Injalak Arts, NT
Private Collection, NSW
Cooee Art, NSW
This is a story from Wulwunj, to the north of Gunbalanya. In the recent past, a young man named Mardolmardol lived there. This was the time when Balanda (Europeans) were beginning to appear in the area, herding and shooting buffalo. Mardolmardol had a shanghai (slingshot) which he had fashioned from the new materials they introduced. And he was the best shot in the whole area. He would sneak up on water birds, holding a branch in front of himself as camouflage (a hunting technique known as malakani in Kunwinjku) and then shoot them down one by one with his shanghai. Every rock found its mark, he never missed.
Children from every clan in the Wulwunj area would collect rocks for him, and he’d go around hunting birds and handing them out. He got so many that people would eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One day a man, Nabulanj Nakarlarrhdju (Nabulanj skin of the Karlarrhdju clan) approached the children who were collecting rocks for Mardolmardol. He asked them how Mardolmardol was able to catch so many birds. “Does he use manbarlbu?” he asked. (Manbarlbu is a stick which can be used for anything from digging to hunting). They explained to him how Mardolmardol was using the new technology of a shanghai.
Nabulanj thought he’d have to see this for himself, so that day he followed Mardolmardol from a distance, secretly observing how he hit every bird without fail with his slingshot. And he went back and told old people of the area who knew witchcraft. When they heard about it they were jealous of Mardolmardol.
Soon a stranger turned up to the camp, a white man riding a horse. He explained to the people that they were herding buffalo and needed help. So Mardolmardol went with them. Mardolmardol proved his prowess at this as well, and with the whip. One day as they passed near an emu, Mardolmardol pulled out his whip and with a single crack caught the emu around the neck.
But a few days after Mardolmardol had gone off with the buffalo herdersShare