Manimunak, Komorlo and Kernalk

Here in Gunbalanya there is a big billabong. In the wet season it overflows and fills the floodplain. Then we see the manimunak (magpie geese) come and make nests from modjdje (spike rushes) and mankurladj (water chestnuts). Magpie geese are important animals for us Bininj (Aboriginal people), and can be found on floodplains in many clan countries. In Gunbalanya there is a Magpie Goose Dreaming site on the top of Arrkuluk Hill.

Komorlo (the egret) is a white bird which lives on billabongs, rivers, creeks and in open forest. We see them in all seasons, in many different countries in West Arnhem Land. Today we see lots of egrets around the billabong in Gunbalanya.

We find ngalmangiyi (Long Necked Turtles) in open areas like flood plains. Women will go out looking for “mim”, the small holes the turtles breathe through as they lie buried under the mud. In the old days, women would take a digging stick called “kunbarlkbu”, which they sharpened so it would penetrate the mud. Nowadays women fashion turtling sticks from old pieces of metal, which they sharpen and make wooden handles for. These are called “kubba” (from the English “crowbar”). If the stick makes a knocking sound when it goes into the mud, people know there is a turtle there. People take the turtles and cook them on the fire or in ground ovens, opening them up to eat them. There is a Long-Necked Turtle Dreaming site in Gunbalanya, at the base of the large rocky hill called Nimbabirr to the northeast of the town.