Lilla

Lilla holds a special place in our hearts and this is their story

Lilla is an aboriginal outstation community located in the Watarrka National Park. In the native tongue of the Luritja country, Lilla means sweet water. If you visit Lilla you will get a chance drink the best tasting water that has been filtered through the Mereenie sandstone from underground springs.

For twenty years, Reg Ramsden, owner of Remote Tours has been forging a close relationship with the people of Lilla. Reg has spent years with them learning and understanding their traditional culture, and trying to impart that knowledge to the visitors he brings to the area. 

LILLA FAMILY TREE

GRANDFATHER & GRANDMOTHERS: Mussolino & Rosi

FATHER & MOTHER: Leo (Passed Away) & Ena

DAUGHTERS: Judith (passed away), Sadie, Vera & Sonia

This is the story of Lilla told by Sadie.

Originally the Grandparents were from Yuendumu. Mussolino was getting into trouble for something that is unspoken about. As a result they fled with the whole family to Jay Creek on camel back.
Mussolino left his family there where they were safe. Armed with spears and number 7 boomerangs, he went back to Yuendumu to deal with the problem. He was very successful and on his return he was smothered in happy children.

Enas’ husbands father was from Docker River way and her mother from Pintubi. On their journey one year to sacred initiation grounds between Mt Leibig and Docker River the two of them met and were married and made a family, thus Ena's husband was born.

Ena met her husband. They Married and had their 4 children. He was granted land rights in 1978 as Lilla was his birth place. Unfortunately he passed away in 1987.

For many years they lived at a town camp in Alice Springs, long after their fathers death. Due to alcohol and bad people their sister died 1 minute after midnight on new years eve in the year 2000. As a result they moved back to their fathers country at Lilla.

Leo had told stories of the early days where his father and uncle had fled into the hills with as much family as they could. They hid in the caves as the white men came through the area and massacred all those people that were left behind. Later on they were taken to Hermansburg mission where they were taught English and Christianity. And also the native tongue of Arrente. However because there were lots of them their own language of Luritja was kept strong and that’s where Ena met her husband (to be).

Now days the families live in 2 houses that were build in 1980. Although the houses are kept in good condition they are getting old and need renovating. Because of the massacre in the area there are not many Luritja people left, maybe 500 or so. They stretch from Areyonga to Maryvale and down to Ernabella. They really want more housing in their area so they can get more family to come back from the towns where there is alcohol and no history. A school was opened at Lilla also in 1980. Because the children were put there to learn from other areas they fought a lot and as a result the teacher left and the school closed down in 1987.

With the help from student groups and other community members this school house reopened in January 2011, creating another page in history!! Reg is very proud to have been the primary leader in making this happen! Now these children from Lilla (and two other communities in the surrounding area) have the opportunity for an education.

Tourism in the area has helped a lot with funding for things like solar power for lights and gas for hot showers and stoves. There is also a generator for those cloudy days. The Mereenie gas fields also give royalties to the traditional owners as the gas is extracted from their land.

Lilla as a community are happy talking and teaching about their Tjukurpa (dreamtime). As they say Pitchama naygooakoo nooragaroo nayooloo nyuntu nga tjukurpa wankahnye. (come to my country and I will teach you a dreamtime story).

The sacred story of Lilla is drawn with 3 circles

Each circle is joined by 2 connecting lines. The circles represent sacred areas. The 1st circle is Women’s area. This is where women gave birth, no men were allowed to enter. It is near water for cleaning the mother and new born baby. The 2nd circle is the Men’s sacred area. This is where younger boys would be taken for initiation and to learn. The 3rd circle (and part of the reason for the massacre) is the sacred drinking water. The George Gill mountain Range that makes up the back drop of Lilla, the sandstone from an ancient sea bed. After the sand had been compressed about 360 million years ago there was a massive geological uplift that created the mountain range. The underlying rock is permanently saturated and therefore creates permanent water.