“This design is about the native wattle tree, with a lot of honey bird eating all the flowers. The bird flies and flies, and gets all the honey, he can’t even land. This wattle tree grows all over the Territory and WA.
There’s also a curlew in this design – the bigger bird. The curlew is a really sacred bird; I do a lot of curlew paintings. The moon and the curlew work together. In my mother’s country in Robinson River, there’s a carving in a rock that might have been done in the dreamtime, thousands of years ago – half a moon, a curlew, a crocodile’s foot, a turtle, and one fellow standing up with one leg, with a nulla nulla (hunting stick). It’s the story that Moon wanted to take two little kids up to the sky, but curlew didn’t want the kids to go up there – ‘nah you’re not taking my kids!’ Moon reckons ‘if I take those kids up to the sky they’ll live longer’, but curlew wants them on the land, so when they die their spirit is with the land.
On Garrwa country you see a lot of moon, star and sun stories. There’s no dreaming about the honey bird though – he’s just a little bird looking for honey!”