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Jardilunji Mia: A new training cafe at Gwoonwardu Mia launches

Gwoonwardu Mia, a recognised cultural hub of the region, dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich heritage of the five language groups of the Gascoyne, is thrilled to announce the official opening of Jardilunji Mia. The name, derived from the local Yinggarda language, translates to ‘eating house,’ and it serves as an emblematic establishment dedicated to cultural preservation and professional development in the hospitality industry.

In collaboration with key partners, Gwoonwardu Mia has joined forces with Real Futures, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australian Museum, Tourism WA (Jina Plan), and Gascoyne Development Commission realise the vision of Jardilunji Mia as part of the Gwoonwardu Mia Training and Development Hub. This visionary initiative is designed to provide unique on-the-job training opportunities in the field of hospitality.

Jardilunji Mia officially launched on the 20 October 2023 with an unforgettable Gala Dining by the Firepit event featuring chef Paul Iskov from Ferver. The evening, which attracted 45 esteemed guests, was inaugurated by Burke Maslen, a board member of the Gascoyne Development Commission. This event marked the culmination of months of training and passion by the entire team.

Since its soft opening on the 13 April 2023, just ahead of the Solar Eclipse programming of events, Jardilunji Mia has already made significant strides in fulfilling its mission. Four talented hospitality students have successfully completed their certificates, and an additional thirteen students are currently enrolled, demonstrating the incredible potential and demand for this unique training café.

Sean Challis, Regional Manager at Real Futures stated, “Jardilunji Mia represents the embodiment of our commitment to preserving and sharing the Aboriginal heritage of our region while providing promising individuals with the tools to forge successful careers in the hospitality industry. We are excited about the possibilities this venture holds for our students, our community, and the broader region, and we look forward to nurturing their talent and passion.”

Barry Bellotti, Regional Manager at Gwoonwardu Mia, added, “The grand opening of Jardilunji Mia symbolises a harmonious blend of tradition and opportunity, a bridge between our rich heritage and the bright future of aspiring Aboriginal hospitality professionals. We are proud to be at the forefront of cultural enrichment and economic development in the Gascoyne region.”

This initiative exemplifies the dedication of Gwoonwardu Mia and its partners to fostering cultural enrichment and economic development in the Gascoyne region. By marrying tradition with opportunity, Jardilunji Mia is set to become a pathway into the hospitality industry, offering not only an exceptional dining experience but also a unique pathway to success for the next generation of Aboriginal hospitality professionals. The Gwoonwardu Mia Training and Development Hub will expand to offer tourism, Aboriginal business leadership, horticulture and cultural awareness.

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Gwoonwardu Mia’s Burrowing Bee Community Day a buzz

In celebrating nature’s tiny heroes, Gwoonwardu Mia has launched an engaging new interactive experience centred around the Mungurragurra Burrowing Bee. The initiative was inaugurated on the occasion of the highly anticipated Mungurragurra Burrowing Bee Community Day on 24 June.

Visitors to Gwoonwardu Mia can now immerse themselves in the enchanting world of the Mungurragurra Burrowing Bees by participating in the newly launched interactive Burrowing Bee colouring-in table. Open Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, this innovative exhibit offers an engaging and educational experience for people of all ages.

Gwoonwardu Mia, renowned for its commitment to Aboriginal cultural heritage and environmental preservation, aims to inspire visitors to appreciate the intricate interplay between nature and culture. By engaging with the Burrowing Bee colouring-in table, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the significance of these native bees within the local ecosystem and the importance of conserving their habitats.

The launch of this interactive experience coincided with the Mungurragurra Burrowing Bee Community Day, an event that drew attention to the plight of these essential pollinators. Attendees had the opportunity to engage in a range of experiences that highlighted the critical role of the Mungurragurra Burrowing Bees in maintaining biodiversity and supporting sustainable food production.


Whether visitors are nature enthusiasts, families, or curious individuals seeking to explore the wonders of the natural world, the Burrowing Bee colouring-in table at Gwoonwardu Mia promises an enriching and memorable experience by stepping into the buzzing world of the Mungurragurra Burrowing Bees.

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Untouchable Stories of the Gascoyne

Gwoonwardu Mia launched two new exhibitions in the permanent exhibition of Burlganyja Wanggaya: Old People Talking 27 May 2023. The two new experiences included an audio exhibit called Untouchable Stories of the Gascoyne and a state-of-the-art touch table which brings to life Gwoonwardu Ganyarra, the swirling waters of the Gascoyne.

Untouchable Stories of the Gascoyne is a unique audio-visual exhibition which allows visitors to listen to incredible stories from Aboriginal elders from each of the five language groups in the Gascoyne. Five elders were interviewed, and their stories recorded to create the moving and thought provoking exhibition that focuses on the their childhood memories and time spent growing up in the region.

Gwen Peck, Betty Fletcher, Bella Randall, John Dale and Thomas Dodd were interviewed by Gwoonwardu Mia curators, Antoinette and Norma Lee throughout 2021 and their stories have now been preserved in this new exhibit.

Each audio recording is accompanied with imagery that brings to life the audio recordings and stories being told. You can enjoy the slideshow of images as they sit back and listen to these personal and special stories. The exhibit was designed and brought to life by renowned designer Scott Watson from Multistory. You can sit and listen to the stories on a headset. It’s a place to reflect, learn and absorb these heartfelt recordings.

The touch table tells the Aboriginal story of two sacred saltwater and freshwater snakes, Bubawari and Jingabirdi and how their relationship affected the land and waterways around the Gascoyne.

About the Elders 

Language group: baiyungu

Gwen Peck nee Cooyou was born in 1947 at the old Carnarvon Hospital. Gwen’s mother was Nora Cooyou and her father was George Cooyou. Gwen married Stuart Peck. Gwen went to the Church of Christ Native Mission, the other side of the river.

Language group:  malgana

Betty Fletcher nee Dorey was born at Shark Bay in an old house in 1937 and still remembers her midwife, Nan Weir. Betty’s father was Robert Dorey and her mother was Nancy Winder. Her grandmother on one side was a Poland from Shark Bay and her grandparents on the other, were old Darby and Jane Winder. In 1958, Betty met her husband to be, Gordon Fletcher in Gascoyne Junction. They had four children together, Thomas, Lionel, Ellen and Carol. Betty never left and still lives in Gascoyne Junction.

Language group: thadgari

Bella Randall was born at Wandagee Station in 1941. Her mother was Dolly Butler, nee Fennell and her father was Joe Butler. Bella married her husband Ernie and they had five children. Her family moved around different stations working. Her husband was a windmill man, fixing them up whenever they were broken. Bella’s work was a bit of mustering, cooking and housework.

Language group: Thalanyji

John Dale was the first born of twin boys in 1957 at the Carnarvon District Hospital. His parent’s names were his father Syd Dale, and his mother was Molly Starr. John’s mother was a Yinggarda woman, and his grandmother was Maggie Dodd. His grandfather was Jack Starr.

Thomas Dodd
Language group: Yinggarda

Thomas Dodd was born at Carnarvon Regional Hospital. His parents were Tommy Dodd and Daisy. Thomas grew up amongst his old people, getting knowledge, spiritually and that later he has it all stored and ready to give to our next generation. Thomas grew up on the Carnarvon Reserve near the Gascoyne River. He lived with his family in tin shack. Thomas can speak three different languages as well as English – Yinggarda, Thadgari and Bayungu.