Ulpanyali, Australia


Photographer: Dean Sewell

Year of Submission: 2016

Louis Clyne lives in the remote indigenous community of Ulpanyali in central Australia’s Western Desert. At 35, he is already considered an elder amongst his people. His custodial responsibilities include passing down the customs, lore and traditions of a people that have existed for more than 40,000 years. His two nephews, Johnny, 13, and Denzel, 14, have travelled 400 kilometres from Alice Springs to visit him. The two boys are approaching the age of initiation and must prove to Louis and the other male elders of Ulpanyali that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to move forward to the next stage of their lives. On an excursion to a sacred watering hole, during story-time in an ancestral cave and on a night hunt for kangaroos, Louis passes on lessons in living, surviving and dream-time to his nephews and other young people. Learning in school classrooms is available to the few children living in this part of the Western Desert. But for Louis, experiencing, understanding and preserving the customs and traditions of his people is what education is really about.