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"Yathikpa" 2011(audio described)

Wall text

Wall text

Djambawa Marawili AM

Born 1953, Bäniyala, Maḏarrpa Country.

Maḏarrpa. Lives and works in Bäniyala, Maḏarrpa Country. 

Pronouns: he/him

"Yathikpa" 2011


earth pigments on bark


Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2013. 

Yathikpa is a bark painting depicting the sacred saltwater territory where fire was received by Yolŋu People from the Ancestral Crocodile Bäru. The artwork features a variation of miny’tji (sacred clan designs) that describes the Sea Country belonging to the Maḏarrpa clan. Yathikpa is the spiritual base for Maḏarrpa people, of whom artist Djambawa Marawili is a Senior Leader. Marawili is also a prominent leader for Indigenous land and sea rights.


The saltwater estate of Yathikpa lies in Blue Mud Bay, Arnhem Land, the region where the first Native Title rights were recognised over Sea Country. The Blue Mud Bay decision, handed down in July 2008 by the High Court, was the first significant ruling of its kind in Australia, because it granted exclusive ownership of the intertidal zone to Traditional Owners. The campaign for Blue Mud Bay Native Title arose from the concern of Yolŋu Elders whose Country was regularly violated by illegal fishing and the desecration of sacred sites. Marawili as Maḏarrpa leader coordinated Yolŋu Elders to express their pain and frustration through the depiction of their care and custodianship for Country in bark paintings that are known as the Saltwater Collection. These paintings were legal documents in the Blue Mud Bay case.


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