This painting refers to Bamurrungu, a sacred and solitary rock in Trial Bay. It is depicted as a white dome, as it is in the bay – a round lump of granite, its top coloured by roosting birds. In the painting it is also coloured by the molulpa, the white sea foam associated with turbulent waters agitated by particular tides and winds. The bands of white cross-hatching depict molmul, the lines of foam created on the water's surface by the same conditions. These lines connect Bamurrungu to the mainland of Gurka'wuy by a manifestation of the sacred white-feathered string. The V-hatched ribbon represents the waters of the bay that wash over the roots and stems of the sacred mangroves on the Gurka'wuy shore, Rulirrika and Gathul Makarr The fish shown swimming up to Bamurrungu are referred to as marparrarr, or milk fish (somewhat like a large mullet). According to the artist, these were once people of the stone country, behind the mouth of the Gurka'wuy River where the Marrakulu have now settled. They turned into marparrarr on reaching the shore, and followed the feathered string to Bamurrungu. The Marparrarr beings were the 'same' as the original inhabitants of Gurka'wuy, populating Marrakulu sea country just as land totems do. Yolngu of this area speak of a hole submerged under a rock from which bubbles rise to the surface, sometimes bursting forth with a rush. These bubbles are seen as a life force and a direct ancestral connection for the Marrakulu. The Marparrarr have knowledge of this special phenomenon, as do the law men. The artist explained that here was a 'statue' for Mali Djuluwa Makaratjpi.—Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre © Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory


  • Title: Bamurrungu
  • Creator: Wukun Wanambi
  • Date: 1998
  • Type: Bark Painting
  • Rights: Purchased 1998, Telstra Collection, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory © licensed by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre
  • Medium: natural pigments on bark
  • Geographical Region of Artist: Yirrkala, North-east Arnhem Land
  • Exhibition: 15th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award 1998
  • Ethnic Language Group: Yolngu
  • Dimensions: 188 x 83 cm
  • Collection: Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art
  • Award: Winner Telstra Bark Painting Award
  • Artist Ethnicity: Aboriginal

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