Mick McLean Irinyili was a Wangkangurru and Lower Arrernte man that was sought out by a number of linguists and anthropologists throughout his life. Described as an Aboriginal 'clever man' he was born about 1888 near Pirlakaya well in the Simpson Desert, South Australia. While he belonged to the Wangkangurru people he also had familial and cultural ties to the Lower Arrernte people and learned to speak both of these languages.
Very early on in his life, in 1903, he recalled seeing the anthropologists Walter Baldwin Spencer and Francis Gillen spending a number of days at Peake Station with Arabana elders eliciting information from a number of senior men. Sixty five years later, Alan West, the Curator for Anthropology from the Museum travelled to Port Augusta to record McLeans' knowledge of the Arrernte ceremonies that were recorded by Spencer and Gillen. After hearing each of the recordings McLean was able to identify and sing many of the original song verses as recorded by Spencer, and in many cases could go on to sing the relevant adjoining verses.
Throughout his life McLean worked as a drover, police tracker and a stockman and as an older man was often called upon to provide information to anthropologists and linguists. McLean's recordings with the linguists T.G.H. Strehlow and Luise Hercus during the late 1960s and the early 1970s are particularly important and are held by the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs and the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra. These recordings include McLean singing numerous songs associated with the vast landscape of the Simpson Desert and nearby regions and his recounting of the associated mythologies/histories for this region.