Gaanyji (Shells) by Jacqui Hunter out now! 🐚

ART STORY: Yawiny (Stingray) & Wongai (Wattle Tree)

My design is about making a spear from Wongai (wattle). We use the spear to catch fish, crab, and yawiny (stingray). Yawiny is good mayi (food). The Bardi words on the design ‘Moorrodoo irrol aarli ngan’ means ‘small wood from tree makes good spear for seafood hunting.’ ‘Ngan’ means food, ‘aarli ngan’ means ‘fish for food’.

Trees are everything to us: they help keep our local knowledge strong. When the Wongai blooms yellow flowers, we know stingrays are rich and ready for hunting. It’s hot when you go hunting for stingray, usually after the big wet (March / April).

I like to go hunting for yawiny with my grandfather; we go by boat to the reef, or down at the beach when the tide’s coming in or going out. We cook yawiny on the fire. We take the fat out, then we heat the meat up on the fire in a pan until it’s brownish - careful not to burn it; then we mix it together with the fat. Serve it with damper on the side! It tastes nice and chewy, sticky, it’s its own type of flavour. Has a salty taste.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Henarlia Rex

I live in a small community in the North Kimberley WA called Ardyaloon/One Arm Point, with my 10 year old daughter. I went to primary school here, then went to a boarding school in Kalgoorlie from year 8. Growing up I learnt about my local knowledge and culture from older people.

Our family has an outstation on Iwany (Sunday Island). We go out there by boat (less than an hour) and have picnics. It’s nice there - we’ve got little shacks right on the beach. My grandmother - and everyone in Ardyaloon - was originally from Iwany. Then everyone got moved to Derby, then they came back to Ardyaloon.

I work at the Bardi Jawi Rangers; we look after Country. We go collecting seeds of our native plants, bring them back to the ranger base to propagate in our nursery, then put the seedlings back onto Country, where there’s degraded areas. Sometimes we do monitoring in the sea too - for coral bleaching and other issues caused by climate change. I love the work that we do. Hopefully I keep all the culture and knowledge that the old people taught me.