ART STORY: Crayfish (Joodarn) Ghost Crab (Manboor) & The Moon
This is my design about catching crabs and crays. It’s also got the new moon, and the half moon. The moon tells you about the tides. We follow the moon. It tells us what we go fishing for, and when we should go fishing. We don't look at tide charts. There's a big tide - big springs - for the new moon. You’re talking 9, maybe 10 metre tides. Then, neap tide for half a moon. Most people go fishing on neap tide. At full moon people go to the fish traps. They’ve been round way before my time - the old Bardi stone trap - people are still using it today! Mainly for fish or stingray. When the tide is low, the big rocks trap fish in there, and you can catch them easily. In the olden days the old people used to chase the fish into the shallows, into the pools, then spear them.
In my design you’ve got the painted cray- joodarn joodarn; and the ghost crab - Manboor. Then there’s lines representing all the tides and holes where they go in. The crayfish will go in under the bigger rocks; into big open caves, but it wont go into small holes. But all the other crabs - mud crabs, ghost crabs, blue swimmer- bury themselves in the sand. Manboor dig holes up on the sandy beach - we use them for bait to catch fish. The mud crab will go into deeper holes probably about 3-4 metres deep. Not many people go out of their way to hunt for painted crays, because they’re hard to catch - but we know some secret places. Secret agent club. But mud crab; they’ll go out all the time. You get the mud crab from the mangroves, when the tides come out from the mud.
To catch a crab, you put a spear through them- we make these out of wattle (wongai), or pick them up with a metal hook. You cook the crab on the open fire. Painted cray probably boil or steam them up. We go out and catch crab when we feel like eating it; we collect it for the grandchildren, or the older people, or for ourselves. Go down catch a crab, light a fire on the beach, cook them up straight away. That’s how people do it around here.