National Geographic : 1988 Feb
The next day Kapirigi takes us on a walk up the canyon, along a running stream full of fish, tur tles, and an occasional freshwater crocodile. The canyon ends in austere rock walls; a waterfall trickles down one face, and be low it we see a still, black pool. "That's where Almudj lives, down there. You got to be careful and not bathe here, or fish, or speak loudly. And don't throw stones into this pool. A few years ago I bring an archaeologist fella here. I told him the same. Don't throw stone. But he laugh and throw a big rock in the pool, right there. That night a big storm come up and wash away his camp. And that was in the dry season too." Kapirigi laughs-but quietly. On the way back we rest on a sandy beach. "See those caves," Kapirigi says. "That's where Mimis live." Kapirigi now tells us that these elusive spirits live inside the rocks. They are so thin that the slightest wind will break their long necks. Only when it is calm do they come out to hunt and paint. If anyone comes or a breeze springs up, they blow on the rocks, which then part to let them enter and close behind them again. People must be care ful, Kapirigi says, for sometimes the Mimis will lure them into the rocks and then lock them up. "When do the Mimis come out?" we ask. "Every evening, but we can't see them. They leave messages. Like this leaf, or a painting." The moment seems right to question Kapirigi about his view of the next world. "If men can become animals, and animals men," we ask, "when we die, do we become animals?" The answer is unequivocal: MiASSIVE JAWS of a saltwater crocodilecrush a barramundi, afish alsofavored by a white breastedsea eagle (above). To the Gagudju, the crocodileis Ginga. Once, in the form of a man, he caughtfire and rushed into the water, turning himself into a crocodilewith a legacy of blister like bumps. The eagle, known as Marrawuti,snatches away a per son's soul at death and brought water lilies to the floodplain. The seeds of the red lily (right) are a traditionalGagudjufood.