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Mosquito Dreaming

The first mosquito was originally a man living near the Mann River with his family, all of whom were swallowed by the Rainbow Serpent. Only he escaped by transforming himself into a mosquito and flying away. When he was a long way from his homeland he changed back into a man and wandered westwards until he arrived at Gunbalanya and climbed to the top of Arrkuluk Hill. From here he could survey the country through which he had passed. Nimbuwah Rock stood out as a landmark. Then looking in the opposite direction he saw the East Alligator River and decided to cross over this and see what lay beyond. A short distance over the river he came across wetlands and made camp for the night on a dry hillock, now a sacred site, on the banks of Magella Creek.

One morning Mosquito Man awoke and decided that because he was constantly lonely without his beloved family life was not worth living. So he took a mighty leap from one of the stones at his camp and landed in a cave high up in the nearby escarpment. Here he found some ochres and proceeded to draw the shape of a huge mosquito along a ledge of the cave. Wanting his species to live on forever, he changed back into a mosquito and laid a lot of eggs. He then metamorphosed into a pointed rock, called “Birndu”, in which his spirit now resides.

Nobody is allowed to visit this sacred site, which is looked after by Jacob Nayinggul, Big Bill Naidji and Yvonne Magurrurlu of the Mirrar Clan. Buried until recently in the ground below the cave was a large, white, almost translucent, oval stone known as the Mosquito Egg, but because of the threat of it being found by miners or tourists, Jacob has now removed this to a safe place, known only to the traditional owners. He said that he knew of the threat that if the rock was ever moved hordes of mosquitoes would be released, but considered this preferable to the possibility of outsiders finding the stone. The site is close to the proposed Jabiluka Mine, at present being bitterly opposed by the traditional owners.

In this painting the artist has depicted the cave in which there is the huge rock painting of the Mosquito Dreaming. Dots represent larvae, and mosquitoes are flying outside the cave. The artist has shown the very sharp pointed snout of the Mosquito Rock which juts out into the sky. It is clearly visible to travellers on the main road below which connects Kakadu to Arnhem Land. Two Mimis are dancing among the mosquitoes and the artist has blown his handprints onto the painting . Foliage growing on the escarpment in which the Mosquito Rock is situated is scattered throughout the painting.

It is the proximity of this road to the Mosquito Rock which is so worrying for the traditional owners. Although they have declared the rock and its surrounds off limits to outsiders, this injunction is sometimes disregarded. There is no official notification visible to warn off intruders. Inclusion in the Register of the National Estate would greatly assist the owners.

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