35 x 45 cm
This etching shows the travels of the poisonous black snake in Gunamboorlayi Country
near the Canning Stock Route in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. The stark
black sinuous line is simultaneously his body and the path that he traveled during the
Dreamtime. The snake started his journey in search of food (mungari). On arrival at a
waterhole he scared a small red bird (possibly a Crimson Chat) that lived there. The bird
remonstrated him by flapping his wings and dancing around in circles, this place is now an
important corroboree site. The circles in the print are waterholes created by the snake.
The fully black circle is where he lives now.
Billy Thomas was born c. 1920 near Bililuna, WA. He first saw Gadia (white people) as a
young boy when he was cooking goanna, and a stockman rode up to him on a horse and
offered him an apple. As a young man Billy worked as a stockman, droving cattle along
the Canning Stock Route. During WWII, Billy moved to Derby to work as a Police Tracker.
One incident saw him shot in the leg at Roogoony (Crocodile Creek), near Turkey Creek,
and he has walked with a limp ever since. Billy eventually left the Police service to resume
his stock work, and remained a drover for many years before retiring to Mud Springs
Aboriginal Community near Kununurra. Billy only began painting officially in 1995, for