Mukarr turtle story


This is the Mukarr Story

There were three Mukarr (Turtle Ancestors) at Guykadala. They were good hunters and they said “lets go and hunt turtle”. One threw his spear and he looked up and saw a cloud in the shape of a Miyapunu (turtle) in the direction of Mirrngatja. He said to the other two I’m going in the direction of the spear. The spear landed and grew into a Warraga (cycad palm). The spear he threw near Mirrngatja was a Dindi spear. The Miyapunu (green turtle) changed into a Madalatj (freshwater short necked turtle ).

All the Yolngu were sitting at Badapaday and the two hunters came to meet them. There were two women who were making a turtle rope. On one side was a big anthill that was growing up for them. From there the two Mukarr came in a canoe with two turtles they caught, one had a lot of fat and one had no fat. The one with fat they shared with the women and everyone shared the turtle meat the women had.

The rock, that is the turtle shell, is still there at Badaypaday.

The sisters gave the Mukarr the new rope, and the old one was rolled up and left there at Badapaday.

The Mukarr and the Women and all the kids packed up their gear and left by canoe. They stopped where there was a big long Lanapu (Cyprus pine). They climbed up the Lanapu and looked around at the country for where to go. They looked back to towards Dhuwalkitj and saw the Miyapunu turtle there. It was a big one, (You can still see it there today). They left the women and children and went to spear it. The women and children turned into different sorts of birds, that was at Manguta.

The Mukarr speared the big turtle but he was very strong and pulled them in. The Mukarr pulled them to Dhuwalkitj, you can see the shell there today. The Burralga (another group of Yolngu) said, “hey that’s my turtle, your stealing it” Then the three of them hit the Turtle on the head to kill it. They also burnt it and started preparing the turtle just like Yolngu do today.

As they cut its throat one of the Mukarr turned and saw smoke cloud in the direction of Bamaka, where their Grandmother’s people were from. Then they said we will leave the turtle and go there. They didn’t eat it, they left their tracks behind as they went in the direction of Bamaka. They could have gone another road but they just went straight to Bamaka.

On the way  the speared a Dhalwatpu (turtle) also called Burrukamurru which is now called the same name. They were eating the meat and drinking the juice and they saw the sky was blue except for one cloud of smoke, in the direction of Gamarrwa (further up the coast) 

The Miyapunu then smelt the strong smell called Ginik, coming from the north. He turned to look towards Garrata and saw smoke. The people there (Bul’mandji – Shark people) were making (Butjulam) chum to attract the Lalu (Blue Tooth fish). The Miyapunu shared some of the turtle meat to them, and they shared the shark and stingray meat with Miyapunu. They were sharing the food. Miyapunu kept following the smoke and the smell and saw Darrpa (King Brown snake) halfway and said, “hey your not from salt water your’re from the bush. You stay there”

Over at Gonguruwuy there were people eating aGarun (Olive Ridley turtle). They smelt this Garun but didn’t want it. They are different people, I don’t know who they are, maybe they are Yirritja. They kept going north, following the smoke of their grand parents tribe right up to Bamaga Island. There was another Mukarr there who needed help (grand child)  and he was helping with his canoe which was broken and he gave them good spears and other tools. And the stronger one said I will stay here forever.

The grandchild Mukarr headed west after he got all the new gear to Muurungga (Crocodile islands north of Milingimbi). Thats where they stopped and the people there speak another language.

125 cm | Acrylic on Wood | Cat. no: 21-1042