Dhuwarrwarr Marika

(Australia circa 1946 – )

Yirrkala, Arnhem region
Language group
Rirratjingu, Arnhem region

Bremer Island Story

Not on display
Further information

Minyipa, a Djambarrpuyngu man and Wulwat from the Rirratjingu clan were turtle hunters. They lived on the coast under Mt. Dundas with their wives and family. Whilst in their canoe the two men saw Dhalwatpu the large sea turtle in the waters between Mt. Dundas on the mainland and Bremer Island. This scene is depicted over the swirling waters in the bottom half of the painting.

The next scene shows the successful hunt as the hunters as seen dragging Dhalwatpu up the beach along with bailer shells and other hunting paraphernalia. The beach was on Bremer Island as it was decided by the men to cook the turtle there because they were closer to Bremer than the mainland. The beach chosen was called Ruwakbuy – they made a fire and started to cook the front part.

A little boy on the other side of the creek was spearing fish when he smelt the turtle cooking. He ran down for a closer look. By this time the hunters had taken the turtle from the fire and placed him on his back ready to cut up. They had also spread out the paperbark and bailer shells ready for soup. The boy called Gakarrarr the sea eagle, turned the turtle back over and sat on it. The hunters grabbed him and threw him on the fire. This was because women and children were never to see the ceremony of cooking and the cutting up of the turtle. The boy turned into the seagull.The men then packed everything back into the canoe and paddled back to the mainland, to the beach of Mt Dundas where their families were waiting for them. They unloaded, cut up the turtle and fed the family.

The Djambarrpuyngu man took most of the meat leaving little for the Rirratjingu. Wulwat asked Minyipa for some of his but the answer was Yaka. A fight ensues, turning these ancestral hunters into rock that are still seen today as prominent parts of the beach under Mt. Dundas.

The people of today use these rocks as wishing places. The rocks are covered with offerings (stones and lumps of coral), thrown on top by fishermen anticipating a good catch. This landscape has been depicted by Dhuwarrwarr in a likeness and style not seen before on a bark from these parts with the more graphic and less contemporary Ruwakbuy scene directly below it. All colours are mixed from natural ochres found on this coastline.

[Art Centre documentation]

Place of origin
Yirrkala, North-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia
Bark painting
natural pigments on bark
262.0 x 60.2 cm (irreg.)
Purchased 1996
Accession number