John Williams

Gidegal Bana Thuwathu - The Moon and the Rainbow Serpent, 2020

80 x 38 cm

Ochre and acrylic on bark


"Gidegal Bana Thuwathu means Moon and Rainbow Serpent. The moon is a totem that adjoins the Rainbow Serpent totem and represents the country it belongs to, Lingalee meaning Spring Point. Part of that country is where the moon story came from: A stranger from the west came to Mornington Island when there was a big corroboree. He was very boney and started begging for some tucker, but they wouldn't share. He was telling the men to dance faster and harder and the more they danced, the higher the dust rose. They could not see him eating their food. The stranger ran away with the food and ate it all, he became very fat. The men were angry at him for stealing their food, they tracked him down and speared him and cut him all over. His spirit moved in a big circle around part of the island, then went underground at Lingalee, a spring was made where he went underground. The path he took formed the main water courses. The new moon is the hungry stranger, the full moon is when he is fat from eating all that tucker, and the quarters are when he is chopped up. When there is an eclipse you can see the red of his blood, it reminded people of when the moon man was killed."