The name Wontulp-Bi-Buya stands for faith and the light of Christ. It is made up of an Aboriginal language word and two Torres Strait Islander language words.
Wontulp is the Wik Munkan name for Mount White on Cape York Peninsula. In the traditional story of the Cape Keerweer people at Aayka and Aurukun (see below), this mountain moved from Cape Keerweer to Coen. This reminds us of Jesus’ words about the little faith we need to move mountains (Matthew 17:20).
Bi and Buya each mean ‘light’ and come from the Torres Strait languages of Meriam Mer and Kala Lagaw Ya/Kalaw Kawaw Ya, respectively. These words remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world. The Coming of the Light is a special celebration of Torres Strait Islanders each year that commemorates the arrival of the first Christian missionaries at Darnley Island on 1 July 1871.
Long, long ago, down at Cape Keerweer, there stood a great mountain. The name of the mountain was called pul thalp’mpa in our language. The mountain was high and beautiful to look at. The people at Aayka were proud and happy because of that big white mountain that stood there long ago.
All around the mountain the country was green. There were lots of trees growing on the mountain and on top there was a beautiful water hole. There were lots of lily roots growing in the water and there were lots of bush food that grew around the scrub. People from everywhere stayed there.
One day the people made a great feast. While the people were feasting and dancing and singing and having a good time, there was a little boy of the Quail family who was very sick. The father and his mother and his uncle and auntie felt sad and worried that one day the boy might die.
But they had no visitor to visit them and one evening the boy died. Father Quail cried and mother Quail cried. His uncle and auntie cried too. They all cried and cried because Mr and Mrs Quail only had one son. Then they buried their only son.
Then Mr and Mrs Quail said that one day they would leave. So they left and took that mountain away with them to Coen, east of Aurukun. The name of the mountain in English is “Mount White”. Aboriginal people call it in their language, wont thalp. Today you can go by plane to Coen. You will see that mountain at Coen on the south side of the town.
My father told me this story and I remember it. Sometimes I tell my children this story in the night around the campfire. The story is old, but it is new for today. You can go back to Cape Keerweer and see for yourself this big sand hill. It is about two miles from Aayka to where the sand hill is.
© Wontulp-Bi-Buya College 2023