Pungenna, Potters Croft & Parrdarrama Nation

by Roger Findlay (with Judith McDonald)

I arrived in Dunalley just after 5pm on the gear-crunching Tassielink bus. Wally, the driver, cruised right past the Potters Croft (my accommodation) and presented me with the dilemma of getting a lift back up the road.

Pungenna - Potters Croft, Dunalley
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My accommodation in Dunalley Tasmania, the Potters Croft

After a phone call, a kind gentleman came to collect me. He dropped me off at the front door of my temporary home. The studio apartment was attached to the main building and met all of my expectations… except for the lack of cooking facilities. To my rescue came the son of the owner and his wife. Within half an hour I was cooking my Cape Grim steak and vegies while drinking a beer and Bream Creek red with this wonderful young family in their kitchen.

Pungenna - Potters Croft Studio Apartment
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The studio apartment at the Potters Croft in Dunalley… minus cooking facilities

The conversation was extraordinary. With the philosophy of only eating what they produce, hunt, fish or exchange, the family are living the way that I would like; but I don’t have the discipline or commitment.

From the Potters Croft into Dunalley

In the morning, I took the brisk 35-minute road walk into Dunalley. I had the whole day to kill and soon realised that there’s not a lot to do in this tiny but somewhat sprawling town.

Pungenna - Dunalley Neighbourhood House
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The Neighbourhood House in Dunalley housed the Pungenna Art Exhibition

I love a cup of tea and the inviting sign outside the Neighbourhood House caught my eye. Even more striking was the sign regarding an art exhibition. My curiosity took me through the door into a place buzzing with activity. Entering a small room on the right, I was immediately impressed by a magnificent display of Aboriginal art along with knitted socks, beanies and cardigans.

Pungenna - Aboriginal Art
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Pungenna Aboriginal Art and Craft on display for NAIDOC in Dunalley Tasmania

Meeting Judith McDonald

In no time at all I was settled in a chair being served hot tea and snacks by the charming Judith McDonald while chatting with her partner, an interesting man with tales to tell.


 

To protect the artists, Judith requested that photos of their work not be published. However, Judith was proud of her mother’s paintings and gave me permission to use the photo of something I consider quite unique.

Pungenna - Aboriginal Art by Judith McDonald's Mother
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Judith McDonald allowed a photograph of her mother’s Aboriginal artwork

Pungenna Art and Cultural Centre, Murdunna

Judith is the curator/coordinator of the Pungenna Art and Cultural Centre at nearby Murdunna. She told me that all of the profits from the sales go back into the Parrdarrama Pungenna Community and it was without hesitation that I bought my first piece of Aboriginal art.

Pungenna - Art Exhibition
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It’s a sign! The Pungenna Community Art Exhibition in Dunalley, Tasmania

I have never been fond of paintings that I don’t understand, but the one I bought is of a kangaroo similar to that on the Qantas logo. Judith had carefully packed it and sent it all the way to G West. Now it hangs opposite our collection of South African art. (I’m sure Mandela would approve!)

Pungenna Community & Parrdarrama Nation History

For those of you that need to know, Judith McDonald explained that the Pungenna Community descend from the peoples of the Paredareme (pronounced “Parrdarrama”).

Language group/tribe: nowadays this region is referred to as the Parrdarrama Nation. The Paredareme tribe was one of eight tribes consisting of 48 known bands of people. The term Oyster Bay Tribe is culturally inappropriate and not used.

The island of Tasmania is known as Trouwunna by the eastern tribes and Lutruwitta by the western and central tribes.

The Pungenna Community also have Aboriginal ancestry from the top end and far west Murray River, Riverine and south east mainland regions but always bearing in mind that the cultural identity is Parrdarrama Pungenne where Pungenna means Aboriginal person in the Parrdarrama language.

Pungenna Arts, Crafts and Cultural Centre is a project of the Parrdarrama Aboriginal Corporation (Central East Coast Tasmania).

From Dunalley Back to the Potters Croft

Walking back to the Potters Croft, I had plenty of time to reflect on the day and the friendliness of the people I met. I admired what they are doing to retain their identity as well as helping those of similar origin. It made me think of the recent passing of my father and what he left behind to remind me of where I came from.

Pungenna - Judith McDonald
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Judith McDonald at the Pungenna Community Art Exhibition in Dunalley

In Tasmania there’s a story around every corner and great people doing wonderful things. Judith McDonald is one of them.

Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the
experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of
research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.

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Map: Potters Croft, Dunalley Tasmania…