Kalumburu community in north-west Western Australia

Women from the remote Kalumburu community in north-west Western Australia went looking in their vast backyard (Kwini Country) and found the makings of a wonderful adventure. They found an abundance of pandanus leaf for weaving baskets and myriad plants for dyeing the dried leaves into vibrant colours.

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Artist and traditional weaver Margaret Duncan teaches the women from the remote Kalumburu community.

The women, all participants of a revival-weaving project, have learned to weave baskets using local pandanas and plants, and along the way have discovered a lot about their country and themselves.

The traditional weaving project, an initiative of Enterprise Learning Projects, was first run last year with support from the John Wallis Foundation. Project manager Clare Wood said the weaving helped the women develop great pride in their land and in their own abilities. About 12 women, ranging in age from 14 to 50 years, took part in the one-week intensive workshop run by Indigenous weaver and artist Margaret Duncan and her sister, Rhonda Duncan.

The women continued meeting regularly to weave and this year another workshop was held and attracted some new participants. The women hope to weave baskets and share their new-found knowledge with others.

“It’s so affirming for the women, who are living with great loss, trauma and health issues within the community, to create something from their own country. One woman was so proud she showed her brother when the basket was finished and he was so proud of her and encouraging,” Clare said.

The women gather to improve skills and are strengthening their community and some hope to one day weave products to sell and form a microenterprise. After all,the materials needed are just out the back.