“Minyapa and Dhanggatjiya were the sons of Mururruma who we refer to as the Grandfather of our family. Mururruma was killed in a ritual spearing by the family of his young wife, who, Mururruma had killed because she 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 Minyapa and Dhanggatjiya across the sea to Dhambaliya (Bremer Island) but were themselves defeated. For their stealth and courage in battle Minyapa and Dhanggatjiya became renowned Wangarr (spirit forms living in times past) to the Rirritjingu and Djambarrpuyngu people.
As Guthara (Grandchild/Rirritjingu) and Mari (Grandfather/Djambarrpuyngu) clans to each other – “Guthara is the body of the Mari” – these two clans share responsibility for the areas of the mainland and Dhambaliya.
It was between the mainland and the island that Minyapa and Dhanggatjiya hunted turtles after their escape. To the end of their long lives they placed the shells of the turtles that they caught in rows on the beach of Dhambaliya between Romp and Rowak (a distance of about two kilometres). From that place the cooked meat was distributed to their families.
My father Mawalan during his life relived Wangarr law by assiduously following its customs. He too was a great turtle hunter, going out in pursuit of them in his canoe (Galnayalma), which he had fashioned by hand, from a giant melaleuca tree. In his bark painting of Minyapa and Dhanggatjiya done in the 1950’s Mawalan showed them hunting turtle. As he painted, my father would retell the stories relating to Minyapa and Dhanggatjiya from the Wangarr to those gathered around him.
I have chosen this subject and followed very closely Mawalan’s composition in the hope that this important story, which linked my people to place in the past, will continue in future to maintain this relationship.”