Monday, April 03, 2006


My name is Gayili Yunupingu Marika. I am a senior Yolngu custodian of the Gumatj clan of NE Arnhemland.We call this place Buku-Larrnygay Mulka.

Yolngu are the people who come from this place.

Everything that exists in the sea and on this land has a place in the sacred songs.
Nyadi the termite is a totem of my mother clan the Djapu Tribe from Wandawuy homeland.

Nyadi is Yolngu too.

We live with them and they help us clean and look after the land.

When we cook in the ground we break pieces Gundirr from the outside of the termite mound to heat them up in the cooking fire and provide even heat around the animal we are cooking
During the wet season when mosquitoes are around in the bush we break open the top of the mound and light a smoky fire inside them to keep the mosquitoes away.

When our children get bellyache we leave the waste near the termite mound Nyadi cleans up the mess and out children get better.

Nyadi eats the heart wood out of the tree which provides our Yidaki didgeridoo and Larrakitj burial logs.

Nyadi eats the fallen branches keeps the forest floor clear. She collects and stores grass seed during the wet so it can regerminate with the new season.
Nyadi creates the hollow trees that are the homes of birds, possums and other animals that we depend on.

Nyadi is my mother.

© Dictated by Gayili to Noel Wright of Birds, Bees Trees & Things - Jan 2003

Story is © N. Wright


Gayili's Name translated into English means (new main road). True to her name Gayili is a senior Gumatj elder and landowner of NE Arnhemland.

She was borne on the shores of Melville Bay at the Galupa Community where she still resides to this day. Galupa was the only community in this vicinity when the Nabalco (now Alcan) bauxite treatment plant was being developed.

Borne prematurely Gayili was carried by her auntie in a Nambarra (paperbark cradle) to the clinic at Yirrkala Mission. The life force was strong in Gayili and as a young girl her father took her on long sea journeys in his 8m long Lippalippa (carved log boat - photo above).

They traveled from Djarakpi (Cape Shield) to Yirrkala in this way harvesting sea and bush food along the way for Gayili to attend school.

Gayili's father was asked to take custodial responsibility for the Nandjaka Peninsular (Cape Arnhem) by the last descendents of the Lamamari Clan. When she was a young woman Gayili's father was killed in a tribal battle. He had worked with the anthropologists Nancy Williams and Jenny Isacs. Gayili was employed as secretary to the Dhanbul association and recorded the anthropologists record of the landowners of NE Arnhemland.

Gayili is proud of her heritage and is respected by the elders for her interest in the traditional stories and has been given permission by the senior elders of the Gumatj, Galpu, Wanguri, Djapu, Djumbalupungu & Rirratjingu clans to reproduce clan designs.

With husband Banduwa Gayili spends all her spare time producing fine artifacts. Her uncle Djalu a master Yidaki maker taught Gayili how to select and make the best Yidaki's. A conservation minded person Gayili never takes a full bark knowing that this ring barks and kills the tree, which provides her with shelter, fire, sugar-bag (honey) and a pallet for her craft.

Gayili trained as a health worker and is regarded as a traditional healer by her community. Gayili's Arts and Craft have been sold to clients all around the world. She paints with ochre carves native wood.

Her designs are intellectual copyright of the Dilaks who permit her to reproduce them. Her important works are accompanied with story and signed certificate of authenticity.

Contacting E-mail can purchase Gayili's craft direct.