This artwork was part of a special slideshow feature for the fundraising auction Ochre: Supporting Indigenous Health in 2008.

Baraltja is the residence of Burrut“’tji (also known as Mundukul) the lightning serpent. It is an area of flood plains that drain into northern Blue Mud Bay. It is on country belonging to the Madarrpa and denotes an area of special qualities pertaining to fertility and the mixing of waters. From Madarrpa (and Dhalwangu clan) land freshwater spreads onto the Baraltja flood plains with the onset of the Wet. Djambawa led the recent successful Blue Mud Bay High Court case which won Indigenous sea rights. A tidal creek fl ows into Blue Mud Bay with the freshwater flushing the brackish mix into the sea over an ever shifting sandbar (the snake manifest).

This flushing of freshwater excites Burrut“’tji to stand on its tail spitting lightning in the directions from where the weather comes.

Wangupini or thunderheads are seen fl icking lightning on the horizon in the deep water named Mungurru connecting with Madarrpa ancestors of the Dhiliyalyal tribe who lived at Boway Ngipangwuy further down the coast. This ancestral kinship tie is linked over sea country as well as the land and a cycle of events connected by lightning, wind and rain. The cloud is sung as femininity and fecundity, pregnant with life-giving freshwater.

Below the semi submerged serpents, the waters of Baraltja bank up. The new season waters coming down from inland cause Burrut“’tji to herald the event spitting lightning into the sky and over to the horizons where the maternal cumulus cloud Wangupini stands. The influx of the freshwater into the coastal area of Baraltja excites all manner of life. Makani the queen fi sh races into the shore, biting into the bait fi sh there, the sand crab dabbling in its wake, cleaning up the morsels ““ a calm after the storm.

© Djambawa Marawilli and Buku-Larrngay Mulka Arts