Lily Karadada was born in the bush in her father’s country around the Prince Regent River called Woomban – goo – wan – gorr. Both parents were living a traditional life and they were both of the Woonambal tribe.
Lily’s bush name Mindindal means “bubbles” was given to Lily, after her father looked down into the spring water from the top of the hill and saw the spring bubbling a few hours after Lily was born. When Lily was born she was carried around in a bark coolamon which is called a namarrga, similar to the ones Lily makes today.
Lily grew up on bush tucker such as Kangaroo, honey, yams, fish and goanna. When she was a young girl her family used to go to visit relations living at Kunmunya Mission in the Wororora country. They used to cross the Prince Regent at a shallow place and follow regular tracks south through the bush. They only stayed there for short times and then went back to the bush.
Lily’s father passed away when Lily was quite young. When she became an adolescent her mother took her and her young brother north to a country called Giboolday on the Mitchell Plateau. There she met and married Jack Karadada who was also Woonambal. They had ten children.
Lily and Jack left the bush and went to Kalumburu during the Second World War. Lily worked at the Mission helping to plant mango trees, they use to carry all the water from the river in drums on their backs for the gardens. Lily still lives in Kalumburu where she made traditional artifacts, on which she painted pictures seen in caves in the country she walked through, when she was a girl. She is now almost blind and hasn’t painted for some years.
Lily Karadada is arguably the best known painter of the “Wandjina Rock Art” of the Kimberley region of Western Australia – her art is included in major collections worldwide.