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Rover (Julama) Thomas

Untitled - Barramundi Dreaming - c.1988

natural earth pigments on canvas
74 x 203 cm
Price Realised: $43,920.00

MP #541


Commissioned by Dr Peter Elliott
Thence by decent.
Private Collection, NSW

Signed 'Rover' verso

74 x 203 cm
80 x 209 cm (frame)

Rover Thomas lived a traditional bush life with his family at Well 33 until, at 10 years of age, he moved with his family to Billiluna Station, where he was initiated after his mother's death. After working for a period as a jackeroo on the Canning Stock Route, he became a fencing contractor in Wyndham. Later he worked as a stockman in the Northern Territory and the fringes of the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts, including Bow River Station. There he married for the first time. Later, he moved on to Texas Downs, Old Lissadell, and Mabel Downs, adjacent to the Warmun community at Turkey Creek, where he settled in his later years.

According to the story that accompanies this work, a beautiful Barramundi made its home in the Tharram river at Bandicoot Bar. The Barramundi travelled up the Dunham River, past where the Worrworrum community is today. A group of old women gave chase and it swam into a cave near the area now known as Barramundi Gap. As it entered the cave, the women prepared to catch it with nets made from dried and rolled Spinifex grass. The Barramundi realised it was trapped in the shallow water of the cave entrance and tried to escape by swimming to the other end. But the Barramundi could not find a way out. It returned to the entrance of the cave where the women were waiting with their nets. The big Barramundi swam towards the women and leapt over them, swimming through to Glen Hill, where some of its scales scraped off on the rocks as it passed through. You can see the scales of Barramundi Gap near the Glen Hill community’s first gate - they are the white rocks on the top of the ranges and they gleam bright white when the sun hits them in the late afternoon.

As the Barramundi died, it turned into a white stone. Its fat (a delicacy to the local people) became the pink diamonds and its organs became the brown and yellow stones sprinkled across the land. Three of the old women who chased the Barramundi