Warning: This article contains images and words about someone from our community that has passed.
Wangkatjungka woman Ningali Lawford-Wolf passed away aged 52 in Edinburgh, Scotland on Sunday while on tour with the Sydney Theatre Company to perform in the play, The Secret River.
In a written statement on behalf of Ms Lawford-Wolf's family and the Sydney Theatre Company, the STC remembered Aunty Ningali as "an incredibly talented performer" and "a wonderfully caring and thoughtful person".
"We've lost one of Australian theatre's greatest treasures," it said.
Ningali was a Wangkatjungka woman born under a tree at Christmas Creek Station near Fitzroy Crossing in the far north Kimberley region of Western Australia. Ningali trained as a dancer at the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre, then continued to perform professionally with Bangarra Dance Theatre in Sydney to build an impressive stage and screen career.
She is well known for her films Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), Bran Nue Dae (2009) and Last Cab to Darwin (2015) and television shows The Circuit (2007 – 2010), 3 Acts of Murder (2009), Little J and Big Cuz (2017) and Mystery Road (2018).
Ningali’s theatre roles included her one-woman show Ningali (1994-1996), which toured nationally and internationally and earnt her a Green Room Award for Best Actress and a Fringe First Award for Best New Production, Aliwa for Company B Belvoir (2001), Uncle Vanya (2005) and Jandamarra (2008) both for Black Swan Theatre Company.
Ningali was involved in the development of The Secret River at STC, narrating its return Sydney season and national tour in 2016, Adelaide Festival performances in 2018 and Edinburgh Festival performances in 2019.
Ningali gave a solo performance in the reading of Windmill Baby in 2014, the winner of the 2003 Patrick White Playwright’s Award, which she co-wrote with David Milroy, and performed in The Long Forgotten Dream at Sydney Opera House last year.
In it's statement, the STC described the cast and crew of The Secret River as being "very distressed" by the news of Aunty Ningali's death.
"All of us at STC offer our condolences to Ningali’s family and friends, and ask that their privacy is respected at this time," it said.
Aunty Ningali is survived by her children Jaden, Rosie, Alexander, William, and Florence, and grandchildren Zavia and Mia.