"My painting is about how our old people only killed turtles for food. They are born here on Cemetery Beach. Our Pilbara turtles leave their nests and travel all around the world. When breeding season comes, turtles that were born here in Cemetery Beach come back and lay their eggs in their homeland.
When I was growing up every home in Port Hedland had a turtle shell on their wall. Turtles, which were killed for food, were shared between different families. This was how we survived. Turtle eggs were a luxury to get as they were used to cook cakes. You can’t boil turtle eggs: you would have to use all the wood in Australia. You have to swallow them as raw egg or as an ‘Egg Flip’ with a very strong smell. Turtle eggs make beautiful fluffy cakes.
Old people only used spears to get a turtle. To find turtle eggs, we used to walk along the beach poking a stick into the sand. When the spear or stick came up wet, you knew you had struck a turtle nest. When mother turtle lays her eggs, you see her crying. Some people say it’s salt water coming through her eyes, but mother turtle is in pain laying all those eggs.
When mother turtle leaves to go back to the sea her babies are left to fend for themselves. So our Cemetery Beach turtles are truly the ‘spirit of the sea’.”
- Esther Quintal, September 2013.