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Dreamtime Stories: The Turtle
Turtles are featured in many artworks and Dreamtime stories from the northern parts of Australia such as Arnhemland, Tiwi Islands, Daly River, Torres Strait Islands, Cape York and the Kimberly. This is because they are a highly favoured food source for these Indigenous communities. As a result, these communities have a high level of respect for the food that sustains them. This is seen through celebrations in rituals that help the turtle to thrive and flourish (Japingka, 2020).
“Green Sea Turtle Dreaming” by Luke Mallie
The Dreamtime story of the turtle's creation starts with Wayamba. One day Wayamba strayed from his tribe and seized Oola the lizard and her children. Wayamba took them back to his camp so that Oola could become his wife. Wayamba’s tribe were very angry with him and said that he must suffer the consequences alone, and that they would not defend him when Oola’s tribe came. When Oola’s tribe came they were painted for war and brought fighting weapons such as spears and boomerangs. Wayamba protected himself with shields, however they continued to force him towards the creek where he threw down his shields and dived into the water. Oola’s tribe waited but they never saw him again. In the water, where a Wayamba had disappeared, a strange creature emerged. It had a fixed plate on its back just like a shield. When you try to catch it the creature retreats, drawing in its head and limbs and protecting itself within the shell. This was the beginning of the turtle (Connolly, 2020).
For many tribes the turtle is one of their totems, as such they are dedicated to honouring and protecting it. One such group is the Arakwal people of Byron Bay. Their name for the Sea -Turtle is ‘Binguing’. The ‘Binguing’ is an important messenger that provides knowledge of the sea country. Surfers and swimmers often catch a glimpse of them coming to the surface for air in the Bay. The Arakwal people believe that the turtle should be respected and protected.
One of Bundarra’s artists Luke Mallie has also explored the importance of sea turtles and the Dreamtime with his artwork “Green Sea Turtle Dreaming.” Here’s the artwork’s story:
"The turtle is a free spirit and can glide gracefully through the ocean for over a hundred years. Many people can see the joy in the spirit of a turtle because it lives as though it doesn't have a worry in the world." - Luke Mallie
We offer this beautiful artwork “Green Sea Turtle Dreaming” in a number of different products which you can check out here.
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