The Stingray Sisters story
When Michael Eather left Tasmania at twenty-one years of age and followed his linguist sister to a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory, he had no idea that his life would change very dramatically and forever. As a young artist on the adventure of a lifetime, Michael fell in love with Maningrida and with one woman in particular, Helen Djimbarrawala Williams. On a beautiful night in July 1985, mentored by local men, Michael mastered the art of stingray hunting. He caught six stingray in one night, surely more than a coincidence, as that was the same evening their first daughter, Noni, was brought into the world. Hence the stingray story was born. Helen gave birth to two more beautiful daughters, Alice and Grace. This story is about those daughters… the Stingray Sisters.
Now in 2016, thirty years later, Noni, Alice and Grace are an integral part of the Maningrida community. All three are leaders in their own right, living and working in the community.
Battling personal issues that few of us will ever face; witnessing young people lose hope and more and more elders pass and a lifetime of knowledge pass with them, the sisters are facing their next daunting challenge. They received notice of an application to explore for oil or gas throughout Arnhem Land. They know that even with everything that’s come before this, the threat of mining will be one of the biggest and most relentless challenges the community will ever face. The sisters believe that the impact of exploration will destroy important, historically sacred areas, along with devastating fishing grounds that the community rely on for survival. More than anything, it would destroy their home and it will destroy the person they cherish above anyone else, their mother Helen Djimbarrawala Williams. The sisters have opened their world to all of us in the hope that we, as viewers, can learn something about what it means to be a young Indigenous person in a nation where being Indigenous has never been seen for what it really is, a precious gift.
Katrina Channells and Bridget O'Shea are the women behind the production company Yarn. If you'd like to get in touch, please make contact via our contact page or at www.weareyarn.com.au