The Barramundi was the most beautiful fish in the river. Her scales were large and bright and she beamed proudly as they glistened in the sunlight trickling though the water.
Like with many beautiful things, however, people wanted to capture and possess her, because some believe beauty is a thing you can own.
One morning, three old women wanted to catch the Barramundi, so they waited for her in the river. When the Barramundi saw the jealous women, she took her jeweled scales to a shallow and dirty place in the water. She swam quickly, but she soon noticed she’d entered a cave and was at a dead end.
To remain free, the Barramundi returned to the mouth of the cave and with all her strength jumped over the women holding their grass nets. Once above them, she shed her precious scales in the air where the sun turned them into diamonds. Those diamonds are still scattered over the sands at the bottom of the Barramundi Gap.
The old women stayed in the water and looked for the colored jewels for so long that they turned to stone, and remain there today as three white rock formations.
As for the Barramundi, after she cast off her artifices, she landed in a deeper and cleaner place, where she swam freer than she had ever been before.
This story is dedicated to indigenous artist Lena Nyadbi, whose painting ‘Dayiwul Lirlmim’ was transformed into a giant mural now stretching across the roof the Quai Branly Museum. I’m including pictures of the original work, the mural, and other of her works that make up the walls of the Musée Quai Branly.
Nyabi’s ‘Dayiwul Lirlmim’ and this story are both based on the same ‘Ngarranggarni‘ (aboriginal dreaming story). I referred to a copy of the story I found at the Argyle Diamond Mine website when I wrote this piece.
It was my intention to pay tribute to this rich culture, and I in no way mean to denigrate their history or traditions with this text.