BININJ NAME: MURRWURRUWURR
Dennis’s mother was born to a young girl (about 11 years old) from Murrumburr Clan, in the Patonga/Cooinda area of Kakadu. Her father was a white policeman who never claimed his child. She was taken away at three years old and never saw her mother again. She was taken at first to Kahlin Compound in Darwin then sent to Croker Island. During World War 2 she was amongst a group of children who trekked to Sydney with Sister Sommerville.
Dennis was born on 7 January 1961 at Winnellie Camp near Darwin. During World War 2 Winnellie Camp was a collection of Sidney Williams huts used by the army. At the end of the war this was used as a camp for Aboriginal people. On Dennis’ birth certificate it states he was born at Hut 56. Winnellie camp is now the site of Shady Glen Caravan Park
When he was young Dennis lived in several state homes and has little formal education. He never knew his father. He has worked at Seven Spirit Resort and for National Parks at Kakadu. Dennis has re-established contact with his mother’s relatives – his grandmother had several more children in a tribal marriage. He has an Uncle at Patonga and many cousins and relations. He takes great pride in the art & craft which is an expression of the culture of the Aboriginal people and learns much of his heritage from sitting and painting with the other artists.
Dennis and his family started a gallery for Aboriginal and local art and craft at Humpty Doo in the rural area of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. He has suffered from ill-health due to a bad heart and in early 2008 had to relocate (temporarily) to Victoria. He lived close to Melbourne, where he was a patient of the Alfred Hospital. He had a mechanical heart (LVAD) inserted in April 2008 while he was awaiting a heart transplant. On Christmas Eve 2008 he received a transplant which, unfortunately, failed. He was relisted and received his second transplant in late October 2009.
Dennis is the first Indigenous man to receive a heart transplant in Australia.
In March 2010 Dennis and his wife returned home to the Northern Territory and, despite frequent visits to Melbourne for checkups required, they are rebuilding their business and family life.
Contact us if you would like to see more of Dennis’s art.