Djalinda here has painted her mother’s Rirratjiŋu clan sea country at Yirrkala, the waters between the mainland and Bremer Island. These waters are shared with the Djambarrpuyngu clan. Here lies the sacred rock Manhala. Turtle swim here and feed on the Yathiny, a blue sea anemone that floats on the surface.
Looking left up the coast from Yirrkala about two kilometres is the rocky escarpment leading down into the sea known as Galariya by the Rirratjiŋu. Off shore from there the island of Dhambaliya can be seen. These two areas and the sea in between is an important site influenced by Djambawal the Thunder Man and Daymirri the Ancestral Whale.
The Ancestral hunters took turtle in these waters and also left their mark on the mainland at Galariya as well as Dhambaliya. The land and associate events connect the two clan groups of the Rirratjiŋu and Djambarrpuyŋu who have custodial rites to this country. Minyipa and Dhaŋgatjiya were young sons of Mururruma who is referred to as the Grandfather of the Rirratjiŋu family. Mururruma was killed in a ritual spearing by the family of his young wife who Mururruma had killed because she had constantly complained about being separated from her own family.
After killing Mururruma on the mainland, the warriors of the young wife’s family pursued his sons Minyipa and Dhaŋgatjiya across the sea to Dhambaliya but were themselves defeated. For their stealth and courage in the battle Minyipa and Dhangatjiya became renown Waŋarr (spirit forms living in times past), to the Rirratjiŋu and Djambarrpuyŋu people. As Gutharra (Grandchild/Rirratjiŋu) and Märi (Grandfather/Djambarrpuyŋu) clans to each other – “Gutharra is the body of the Märi” – these two clans share responsibility for areas of the mainland and Dhambaliya.
It was between the island and the mainland that Minyipa and Dhaŋgatjiya hunted turtle after their escape. To the end of their long lives they placed the shells of the turtles that they caught in rows of lines on the beach of Dhambaliya between Rompuy and Ruwak (a distance of about two Kms). From that place the cooked meat was distributed to their families. In the songs, at one time they went and got a turtle and when they looked back towards the mainland it was too far for them. Closer was Bremer Island so they went there.
They made gurtha (fire) then took the miyapunu (turtle) out of the lipa lipa and put it on top of the fire. There was a little boy with a gara (fishing spear) and some fish around on the other bay. He smelled the flavour of the turtle as the smoke was coming towards him. He ran to where the hunters were but they told him to go away as the cooking and cutting up of the turtle was sacred men’s business but the boy could not listen to them and sat near them with his fish. The hunters didn’t even take the miyapunu out of the fire to cut up they put it back onto the lipa lipa and took it back to the camp at Mt Dundas.
The Rirratjiŋu shared his part of the turtle with other groups of people but the Djambarrpuyŋu did not but that’s another story. These Ancestral Hunters are now manifest as rock that are still seen today as prominent parts of the beach under Galariya. The people of today use these rocks as a wishing place. The rocks are covered with offerings (stones and lumps of coral), thrown on top by fishermen anticipating a good catch.
The star shapes in this design are the Yathiny, an anenome like colony of single cell organisms which presents as a disc up to 5cm across with fine blue hairlike scillae. This is the food of turtles and a Dhuwa icon. Since 2007 Djalinda has distinguished herself as an innovator with the mixing of traditional pigments to create new tones such as pink and green.