Sally Gabori’s tribal name is Mirdidingkingathi Jurwarnda. Jurwarnda means ‘dolphin’, which is her totemic sign, and Mirdidingkingathi means ‘born at Mirdidingki’ which is her country on the south side of Bentinck island. The English name Gabori comes from her husband Pat Gabori and is a corruption of his birthplace name, Kabararrji. Her father was born around 1865 and died in 1930. From his name, Thunduyingathi Bijarrb, we know that he was born at Thunduyi, near Oaktree point on the northern end of the Bentinck Island. Her mother, Murrukunabayingathi Karnda Thandamand, was born around 1880 on Albinia Island (Murrukunabayi) and died around 1946.
At the time of coming to Mornington Island, Sally was one of four wives to Pat Gabori. Mission policy encouraged monogamy so two of Pat’s wives were redistributed to wifeless men. Pat managed to hold on to two wives however: Sally and Maudie Pat (Dawaringathi Kulkiji) who died in 1984. Sally brought eleven children of her own into the world, as well as caring for her co-wife’s children, following Kaiadilt tradition, and she is grandmother and great- grandmother to many more.
In Dibirdibi, Sally Gabori has mapped the story places of Dibirdibi (the rock cod ancestor). These lands belonged to her late husband, Pat, whose traditional name was Dibirdibi and thus was the inheritor of the Dibirdibi story and country. Special aspects of Dibirdibi country at a site known as Kabararrji are revealed through Gabori’s seemingly abstract style.
Photography: Kallan MacLeod