Jun 4, 2015

last weekend we went here
which is to say we went here
This is Madarrpa country, a place called Baratjula.
The place the amazing women Nongirrnga Marawili, paints.  

 ' Baratjula is a Madarrpa clan estate adjacent to Cape Shield where the artist visited by canoe with her father and his many wives as a young girl. Her father’s name was Mundukul and this is also the name of the serpent (also known as Water Python, Burrut’tji or Liasis Fuscus) which lives deep beneath the sea here.
Her paintings show the deep water and the ‘curse’ or oath that the snake spits into the sky in the form of lightning from this place.
At the base of the image a rock sits firm in the Madarrpa land against which this sea crashes. '

(copyright of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka) 

We drove from Yirrkala on Saturday afternoon, two trophy loads of mostly kids, Yalpi, Rerrkirrwanga, us and Henry Skerritt, a visitor from the usa.
Not many people visit Baratjula, in fact after the cyclones we weren't sure we would even make it. We turned off at Djarrakpi and then spilt again on the road until we passed a homeland with houses, an airstrip but no residents and found a overgrown road to the beach.
On the map above the airstrip is in the top left hand corner. We followed that down towards the beach and drove up over the sand dunes and down onto the beach.
We stopped as the sun went down. In the rock pools we got oysters and huge blue crabs.

Rerrkirrwanga with her crabs ... 
Two Jabiru wading in the low tide
me in the sunset 
We got to Baratjula in the dark - the drive up the beach was something else - through and over rocks and up into the jungle again through a road that wasn't really a road and back on the beach again and over the rocks again until we got to the spot. We camped the night - made a fire, slept under the stars and listened out for Buffulo snorting in the dark.
In the morning we went to the very point, the very rocks that Nongirrnga paints - Baratjula. For her it had been a long time since her last visit. (In fact very few people go to this beach - many Yolngu we have spoken to have never been)
She was so happy to be there - it was a privilege to be with her as she sat on the ancient rocks that hold so much of her clan's sacred stories and knowledge, knowing that she had experiences here that were pre-contact.
everyone went hunting.

not me, I am just posing with a spear - and not Kade and Henry either - well, they tried at least but all the stingray was speared by Yalpi and his young son Djilil.

so we had stingray for lunch - so delicious !

Iggy and Charles - the best of friends - played all day 
looking like seventies crime fighters. 
we drove home - got bogged about 16 times per trophy - stopped to collect turtle eggs and made it back to Yirrkala by evening. It was the best weekend I have had in ages. Maybe EVER. amazing.
Mawang, Djilil and Iggy on the sand tune (between boggings)
Iggy and Rerrkirrwanga digging out the eggs 

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