Milminydjarrk Barnday (dry sacred waterholes) at Garriyak

Bark painting
67 x 33cm
Cat #105-18

Dja’nkawu sisters are travelling from the Yirratjingu people at Yalangbarra (on the east Arnhem mainland). These ancestors then travelled west to Garriyak which is south of Elcho Island. We (the Garrawurra people) sing two songs about them with Birrma, they aren’t really songs, they are stories.

Wherever they stopped, the Dja’nkawu sisters changed their language, names, clan, ceremony and customs. They gave these things to the people. They also made Gapu Milminydjarrk or Milngurr (water holes) by poking their Dhorna or Ganinyidi (digging sticks) into the ground. Some of these waters are sacred but some are alright to drink from. In this work, the waterholes are dry yet retain their significance.

The sisters gave Miku (red), Watharr (white) and Buthjalak (yellow) ochre colours for us to paint with. We use them for the Ngarra law ceremony, which is a cleansing ceremony, performed when people die. These designs also refer to our clan totem animals such as Djanda (goanna), Nyuka (crab), Wanduma or Gudumurrku (fresh water cat fish), Bowarta (turkey), Ngatili (black cockatoo) and the Worrudj (colourful parrot).

Interested in this artwork but thinking about a commission? Email us to discuss the details.

Milingimbi Art and Culture Aboriginal Corporation

The Milingimbi Art and Culture Aboriginal Corporation is a community owned Art Centre that maintains an important position in the national art and cultural arena. Milingimbi Art and Culture has a long history of producing works steeped in active cultural practice such as barks, ceremonial poles, carvings and weavings. Works from Milingimbi are integral to important collections in many National and International institutions.


Contact us

A: Lot 53 Gadupu Rd, Milingimbi via Winellie, NT 0822
P: (+61) 8987 9888
E: [email protected]

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website may contain images and voices of deceased persons.

© Milingimbi Art and Culture Aboriginal Corporation

Follow us