Two Brothers – Kinga and Burarr
The two reptiles in this painting were originally human beings. They were two Nabulanj skin (subsection) brothers. The country of the story is Marburrlh, at the mouth of the Moss River.
The brothers were standing on the shore wanting to cross the river’s mouth. A group of men also gathered to cross. There were two paperbark canoes and a rush to get to them first. The two brothers did not reach the canoes in time, as one canoe was filled with Yirridjdja moiety people and the other with Duwa moiety people. In anger, the little brother said “Let’s swim and turn ourselves into a kinga (saltwater crocodile) and burarr (water goanna) and we can follow them”.
They followed the canoes into the middle of the river and capsized them both, tipping the men into the sea. The men turned into birds and flew away. They became the birds of the wetlands.
The younger brother said to the older brother “You go and swim in freshwater and remain as burarr. I’ll stay in saltwater, as kinga”. The younger brother took mandubang, the roots of the ironwood tree, to make his skin rough and strong to protect him in the saltwater. The older brother swam upstream to the freshwater of the inland billabongs.