Australian Legendary Tales
- FOLK-LORE OF THE NOONGAHBURRAHS
- AS TOLD TO THE PICCANINNIES
- COLLECTED BY
- MRS. K. LANGLOH PARKER
- WITH INTRODUCTON BY
- ANDREW LANG, M.A.
- ILLUSTRATIONS BY A NATIVE ARTIST,
AND A SPECIMEN
- OF THE NATIVE TEXT
- SECOND EDITION
- DAVID NUTT, 270-271, STRAND
- MELVILLE, MULLEN & SLADE
- [All Rights Reserved]
- Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON &
- At the Ballantyne Press
- PETER HIPPI
- KING OF THE NOONGAHBURRAHS
- PREFACE ix
- INTRODUCTION, BY ANDREW LANG, M.A.
- DINEWAN THE EMU, AND GOOMBLEGUBBON
THE BUSTARD 1
- THE GALAH, AND OOLAH THE LIZARD 6
- BAHLOO THE MOON, AND THE DAENS 8
- THE ORIGIN OF THE NARRAN LAKE 11
- GOOLOO THE MAGPIE, AND THE WAHROOGAH
- THE WEEOOMBEENS AND THE PIGGIEBILLAH
- BOOTOOLGAH THE CRANE AND GOONUR THE
KANGAROO RAT, THE FIRE MAKERS 24
- WEEDAH THE MOCKING BIRD 30
- THE GWINERBOOS THE REDBREASTS 35
- MEAMEI THE SEVEN SISTERS 40
- THE COOKOOBURRAHS AND THE GOOLAHGOOL
- THE MAYAMAH 50
- THE BUNBUNDOOLOOEYS 52
- OONGNAIRWAH AND GUINAREY 55
- NARAHDARN THE BAT 57
- MULLYANGAH THE MORNING STAR 62
- GOOMBLEGUBBON, BEEARGAII, AND OUYAN
- MOOREGOO THE MOPOKE, AND BAHLOO THE
- OUYAN THE CURLEW 70
- DINEWAN THE EMU, AND WAHN THE CROWS
- GOOLAHWILLEEL THE TOPKNOT PIGEONS
- GOONUR, THE WOMAN-DOCTOR 77
- DEEREEREE THE WAGTAIL, AND THE RAINBOW
- MOOREGOO THE MOPOKE, AND MOONINGUGGAHGUL
THE MOSQUITO BIRD 86
- BOUGOODOOGAHDAH THE RAIN BIRD 90
- THE BORAH OF BYAMEE 94
- BUNNYYARL THE FLIES AND WURRUNNUNNAH
THE BEES 106
- DEEGEENBOYAH THE SOLDIER-BIRD 108
- MAYRAH, THE WIND THAT BLOWS THE WINTER
- WAYAMBEH THE TURTLE 117
- WIRREENUN THE RAINMAKER 120
- NATIVE TEXT OF THE FIRST TALE (APPENDIX)
- GLOSSARY 129
A NEIGHBOR of mine exclaimed, when I mentioned that I proposed
making a small collection of the folk-lorc legends of the tribe
of blacks I knew so well living on this station, "But have
the blacks any legends?"-thus showing that people may live
in a country and yet know little of the aboriginal inhabitants;
and though there are probably many who do know these particular
legends, yet I think that this is the first attempt that has
been made to collect the tales of any particular tribe, and publish
them alone. At all events, I know that no attempt has been made
previously, as far as the folklore of the Noongahburrahs is concerned.
Therefore, on the authority of Professor Max Müller, that
folk-lore of any country is worth collecting, I am emboldened
to offer my small attempt, at a collection, to the public. There
are probably many who, knowing these legends, would not think
them worth recording; but, on the other hand, I hope there are
many who think, as I do, that we should try, while there is yet
time, to gather all the information possible of a race fast dying
out, and the origin of which is so obscure. I cannot affect to
think that these little legends will do much to remove that obscurity,
but undoubtedly a scientific and patient study of the folk-lore
throughout Australia would greatly assist thereto. I, alas! am
but an amateur, moved to my work by interest in the subject,
and in the blacks, of whom I have had some experience.
The time is coming when it will be impossible to make even
such a collection as this, for the old blacks are quickly dying
out, and the young ones will probably think it beneath the dignity
of their so-called civilisation even to remember such old-women's
stories. Those who have themselves attempted the study of an
unknown folk-lore will be able to appreciate the difficulties
a student has to surmount before he can even induce those to
talk who have the knowledge he desires. In this, as in so much
else, those who are ready to be garrulous know little.
I have confined this little book to the legends of the Narran
tribe, known among themselves as Noongahburrahs. It is astonishing
to find, within comparatively short distances, a diversity of
language and custom. You may even find the same word in different
tribes bearing a totally different meaning. Many words, too,
have been introduced which the blacks think are English, and
the English think are native. Such, for example, as piccaninny,
and, as far as these outside blacks are concerned, boomerang
is regarded as English, their local word being burren; yet nine
out of ten people whom you meet think both are local native words.
Though I have written my little book in the interests of folk-lore,
I hope it will gain the attention of, and have some interest
for, children-of Australian children, because they will find
stories of old friends among the Bush birds; and of English children,
because I hope that they will be glad to make new friends, and
so establish a free trade between the Australian and English
nurseries--wingless, and laughing birds, in exchange for fairy
godmothers, and princes in disguise.
I must also acknowledge my great indebtedness to the blacks,
who, when once they understood what I wanted to know, were most
ready to repeat to me the legends repeating with the utmost patience,
time after time, not only the legends, but the names, that I
might manage to spell them so as to be understood when repeated.
In particular I should like to mention my indebtedness to Peter
Hippi, king of the Noongahburrahs; and to Hippitha, Mätah,
Barahgurrie, and Beemunny.
I have dedicated my booklet to Peter Hippi, in grateful recognition
of his long and faithful service to myself and my husband, which
has extended, with few intervals, over a period of twenty years.
He, too, is probably the last king of the Noongabburrahs, who
are fast dying out-, and soon their weapons, bartered by them
for tobacco or whisky, alone will prove that they ever existed.
It seemed to me a pity that some attempt should not be made to
collect the folk-lore of the quickly disappearing tribe-a folk-lore
embodying, probably, the thoughts, fancies, and beliefs of the
genuine aboriginal race, and which, as such, deserves to be,
indeed, as Max Müller says, "might be and ought to
be, collected in every part of the world."
The legends were told to me by the blacks themselves, some
of whom remember the coming of Mitchellän, as they call
Major Mitchell, the explorer of these back creeks. The old blacks
laugh now when they tell you how frightened their mothers were
of the first wheel tracks they saw. They would not let the children
tread on them, but carefully lifted them over, lest their feet
should break out in sores, as they were supposed to do if they
trod on a snake's track. But with all their fear, little did
they realise that the coming of Mitchellän was the beginning
of their end, or that fifty years afterwards, from the remnant
of their once numerous tribe, would be collected the legends
they told in those days to their piccaninnies round their camp-fires,
and those legends used to make a Christmas booklet for the children
of their white supplanters.
I can only hope that the white children will be as ready to
listen to these stories as were, and indeed are, the little piccaninnies,
and thus the sale of this booklet be such as to enable me to
add frocks and tobacco when I give their Christmas dinner, as
is my yearly custom, to the remnant of the Noongahburrahs.
K. LANGLOH PARKER,
BANGATE, NARRAN RIVER, NEW SOUTH WALES,
June 24th, 1895.
AUSTRALIA makes an appeal to the fancy which is all its own.
When Cortes entered Mexico, in the most romantic moment of history,
it was as if men had found their way to a new planet, so strange,
so long hidden from Europe was all that they beheld. Still they
found kings, nobles, peasants, palaces, temples, a great organised
society, fauna and flora not so very different from what they
had left behind in Spain. In Australia all was novel, and, while
seeming fresh, was inestimably old. The vegetation differs from
ours; the monotonous grey gum-trees did not resemble our varied
forests, but were antique, melancholy, featureless, like their
own continent of rare hills, infrequent streams and interminable
deserts, concealing nothing within their wastes, yet promising
a secret. The birds and beasts-kangaroo, platypus, emu-are ancient
types, rough grotesques of Nature, sketching as a child draws.
The natives were a race without a history, far more antique than
Egypt, nearer the beginnings than any other people. Their weapons
are the most primitive: those of the extinct Tasmanians were
actually palæolithic. The soil holds no pottery, the cave
walls no pictures drawn by men more advanced; the sea hides no
ruined palaces; no cities are buried in the plains; there is
not a trace of inscriptions or of agriculture. The burying places
contain relics of men perhaps even lower than the existing tribes;
nothing attests the presence in any age of men more cultivated.
Perhaps myriads of years have gone by since the Delta, or the
lands beside Euphrates and Tigris were as blank of human modification
as was the whole Australian continent.
The manners and rites of the natives were far the most archaic
of all with which we are acquainted. Temples they had none: no
images of gods, no altars of sacrifice; scarce any memorials
of the dead. Their worship at best was offered in hymns to some
vague, half-forgotten deity or First Maker of things, a god decrepit
from age or all but careless of his children. Spirits were known
and feared, but scarcely defined or described. Sympathetic magic,
and perhaps a little hypnotism, were all their science. Kings
and nations they knew not; they were wanderers, houseless and
homeless. Custom was king; yet custom was tenacious, irresistible,
and as complex in minute details as the etiquette of Spanish
kings, or the ritual of the Flamens of Rome. The archaic intricacies
and taboos of the customs and regulations of marriage might puzzle
a mathematician, and may, when unravelled, explain the less complicated
prohibitions of a totemism less antique. The people themselves
in their struggle for existence had developed great ingenuities.
They had the boomerang and the weet-weet, but not the bow; the
throwing stick, but not, of course, the sword; the message stick,
but no hieroglyphs; and their art was almost purely decorative,
in geometrical patterns, not representative. They deemed themselves
akin to all nature, and called cousins with rain and smoke, with
clouds and sky, as well as with beasts and trees. They were adroit
hunters, skilled trackers, born sportsmen; they now ride well,
and, for savages, play cricket fairly. But, being invaded by
the practical emigrant or the careless convict, the natives were
not studied when in their prime, and science began to examine
them almost too late. We have the works of Sir George Grey, the
too brief pamphlet of Mr. Gideon Lang, the more learned labours
of Messrs. Fison and Howitt, and the collections of Mr. Brough
Smyth. The mysteries (Bora) of the natives, the initiatory rites,
a little of the magic, a great deal of the social customs are
known to us, and we have fragments of the myths. But, till Mrs.
Langloh Parker wrote this book, we had but few of the stories
which Australian natives tell by the camp-fire or in the gum-tree
These, for the most part, are Kinder Märchen,
though they include many ætiological myths, explanatory
of the markings and habits of animals, the origin of constellations,
and so forth. They are a savage edition of the Metamorphoses,
and few unbiased students now doubt that the Metamorphoses
are a very late and very artificial version of traditional tales
as savage in origin as those of the Noongahburrah. I have read
Mrs. Parker's collection with very great interest, with "human
pleasure," merely for the story's sake. Children will find
here the Jungle Book, never before printed, of black little boys
and girls. The sympathy.with, and knowledge of beast-life and
bird-life are worthy of Mr. Kipling, and the grotesque names
are just what children like. Dinewan and Goomblegubbon should
take their place with Rikki Tikki and Mr. Kipling's other delightful
creatures. But there is here no Mowgli, set apart in the jungle
as a man. Man, bird, and beast are all blended in the Australian
fancy as in that of Bushmen and Red Indians. All are of one kindred,
all shade into each other; all obey the Bush Law as they obey
the Jungle Law in Mr. Kipling's fascinating stories. This confusion,
of course, is not peculiar to Australian Märchen;
it is the prevalent feature of our own popular tales. But the
Australians "do it more natural:" the stories are not
the heritage of a traditional and dead, but the flowers of a
living and actual condition of the mind. The stories have not
the ingenious dramatic turns of our own Märchen.
Where there are no distinctions of wealth and rank, there can
be no Cinderella and no Puss in Boots. Many stories
are rude ætiological myths; they explain the habits and
characteristics of the birds and beasts, and account in a familiar
way for the origin of death ("Bahloo, the Moon, and the
Daens"). The origin of fire is also accounted for in what
may almost be called a scientific way. Once discovered, it is,
of course, stolen from the original proprietors. A savage cannot
believe that the first owners of fire would give the secret away.
The inventors of the myth of Prometheus were of the same mind.
On the whole the stories, perhaps, most resemble those from
the Zulu in character, though these represent a much higher grade
of civilisation. The struggle for food and water, desperately
absorbing, is the perpetual theme, and no wonder, for the narrators
dwell in a dry and thirsty land, and till not, nor sow, nor keep
any domestic animals. We see the cunning of the savage in the
devices for hunting, especially for chasing honey bees. The Rain-magic,
actually practised, is of curious interest. In brief, we have
pictures of savage life by savages, romances which are truly
realistic. We understand that condition which Dr. Johnson did
not think happy-the state from which we came, and to which we
shall probably return. "Equality," "Liberty",
"Community of Goods," all mean savagery, and even savages,
if equal, are not really free. Custom is the tyrant.
The designs are from the sketch-book of an untaught Australian
native; they were given to me some years ago by my brother, Dr.
Lang, of Corowa. The artist has a good deal of spirit in his
hunting scenes; his trees are not ill done, his emus and kangaroos
are better than his men and labras. Using ink, a pointed stick,
and paper, the artist shows an unwonted freedom of execution.
Nothing like this occurs in Australian scratches with a sharp
stone on hard wood. Probably no other member of his dying race
ever illustrated a book.
Dinewan the Emu, and Goomblegubbon the Bustard
DINEWAN the emu, being the largest bird, was acknowledged
as king bythe other birds. The Goomblegubbons, the bustards,
were jealous of the Dinewans. Particularly was Goomblegubbon,
the mother, jealous of the Diriewan mother. She would watch with
envy the high flight of the Dinewans, and their swift running.
And she always fancied that the Dinewan mother flaunted her superiority
in her face, for whenever Dinewan alighted near Goomblegubbon,
after a long, high flight, she would flap her big wings and begin
booing in her pride, not the loud booing of the male bird, but
a little, triumphant, satisfied booing noise of her own, which
never failed to irritate Goomblegubbon when she heard it.
Goomblegubbon used to wonder how she could put an end to Dinewan's
supremacy. She decided that she would only be able to do so by
injuring her wings and checking her power of flight. But the
question that troubled her was how to effect this end. She kn
ew she would gain nothing by having a quarrel with Dinewan and
fighting her, for no Goomblegubbon would stand any chance against
a Dinewan, There was evidently nothing to be gained by an open
fight. She would have to effect her end by cunning.
One day, when Goomblegubbon saw in the distance Dinewan coming
towards her, she squatted down and doubled in her wings in such
a way as to look as if she had none. After Dinewan had been talking
to her for some time, Goomblegubbon said: "Why do you not
imitate me and do without wings? Every bird flies. The Dinewans,
to be the king of birds, should do without wings. When all the
birds see that I can do without wings, they will think I am the
cleverest bird and they will make a Goomblegubbon king."
"But you have wings," said Dinewan.
"No, I have no wings." And indeed she looked as
if her words were true, so well were her wings hidden, as she
squatted in the grass. Dinewan went away after awhile, and thought
much of what she had heard. She talked it all over with her mate,
who was as disturbed as she was. They made up their minds that
it would never do to let the Goomblegubbons reign in their stead,
even if they had to lose their wings to save their kingship.
At length they decided on the sacrifice of their wings. The
Dinewan mother showed the example by persuading her mate to cut
off hers with a combo or stone tomahawk, and then she did the
same to his. As soon as the operations were over, the Dinewan
mother lost no time in letting Goomblegubbon know what they had
done. She ran swiftly down to the plain on which she had left
Goomblegubbon, and, finding her still squatting there, she said:
"See, I have followed your example. I have now no wings.
They are cut off."
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Goomblegubbon, jumping up
and dancing round with joy at the success of her plot. As she
danced round, she spread out her wings, flapped them, and said:
"I have taken you in, old stumpy wings. I have my wings
yet. You are fine birds, you Dinewans, to be chosen kings, when
you are so easily taken in. Ha! ha! ha!" And, laughing derisively,
Goomblegubbon flapped her wings right in front of Dinewan, who
rushed towards her to chastise her treachery. But Goomblegubbon
flew away, and, alas! the now wingless Dinewan could not follow
Brooding over her wrongs, Dinewan walked away, vowing she
would be revenged. But how? That was the question which she and
her mate failed to answer for some time. At length the Dinewan
mother thought of a plan and prepared at once to execute it.
She hid all her young Dinewans but two, under a big salt bush.
Then she walked off to Goomblegubbons' plain with the two young
ones following her. As she walked off the morilla ridge, where
her home was, on to the plain, she saw Goomblegubbon out feeding
with her twelve young ones.
After exchanging a few remarks in a friendly manner with Goomblegubbon,
she said to her, "Why do you not imitate me and only have
two children? Twelve are too many to feed. If you keep so many
they will never grow big birds like the Dinewans. The food that
would make big birds of two would only starve twelve." Goomblegubbon
said nothing, but she thought it might be so. It was impossible
to deny that the young Dinewans were much bigger than the young
Goomblegubbons, and, discontentedly, Goomblegubbon walked away,
wondering whether the smallness of her young ones was owing to
the number of them being so much greater than that of the Dinewans.
It would be grand, she thought, to grow as big as the Dinewans.
But she remembered the trick she had played on Dinewan, and she
thought that perhaps she was being fooled in her turn. She looked
back to where the Dinewans fed, and as she saw how much bigger
the two young ones were than any of hers, once more mad envy
of Dinewan possessed her. She determined she would not be outdone.
Rather would she kill all her young ones but two. She said, "The
Dinewans shall not be the king birds of the plains. The Goomblegubbons
shall replace them. They shall grow as big as the Dinewans, and
shall keep their wings and fly, which now the Dinewans cannot
do." And straightway Goomblegubbon killed all her young
ones but two. Then back she came to where the Dinewans were still
feeding. When Dinewan saw her coming and noticed she had only
two young ones with her, she called out: "Where are all
your young ones?"
Goomblegubbon answered, "I have killed them, and have
only two left. Those will have plenty to eat now, and will soon
grow as big as your young ones."
"You cruel mother to kill your children. You greedy mother.
Why, I have twelve children and I find food for them all. I would
not kill one for anything, not even if by so doing I could get
back my wings. There is plenty for all. Look at the emu bush
how it covers itself with berries to feed my big family. See
how the grasshoppers come hopping round, so that we can catch
them and fatten on them."
"But you have only two children."
"I have twelve. I will go and bring them to show you."
Dinewan ran off to her salt bush where she had hidden her ten
young ones. Soon she was to be seen coming back. Running with
her neck stretched forward, her head thrown back with pride,
and the feathers of her boobootella swinging as she ran, booming
out the while her queer throat noise, the Dinewan song of joy,
the pretty, soft-looking little ones with their zebra-striped
skins, running beside her whistling their baby Dinewan note.
When Dinewan reached the place where Goomblegubbon was, she stopped
her booing and said in a solemn tone, "Now you see my words
are true, I have twelve young ones, as I said. You can gaze at
my loved ones and think of your poor murdered children. And while
you do so I will tell you the fate of your descendants for ever.
By trickery and deceit you lost the Dinewans their wings, and
now for evermore, as long as a Dinewan has no wings, so long
shall a Goomblegubbon lay only two eggs and have only two young
ones. We are quits now. You have your wings and I my children."
And ever since that time a Dinewan, or emu, has had no wings,
and a Goomblegubbon, or bustard of the plains, has laid only
two eggs in a season.
The Galah, and Oolah the Lizard
OOLAH the lizard was tired of lying in the sun, doing nothing.
So he said, "I will go and play." He took his boomerangs
out, and began to practise throwing them. While he was doing
so a Galah came up, and stood near, watching the boomerangs come
flying back, for the kind of boomerangs Oolah was throwing were
the bubberahs. They are smaller than others, and more curved,
and when they are properly thrown they return to the thrower,
which other boomerangs do not.
Oolah was proud of having the gay Galah to watch his skill.
In his pride he gave the bubberah an extra twist, and threw it
with all his might. Whizz, whizzing through the air, back it
came, hitting, as it passed her, the Galah on the top of her
head, taking both feathers and skin clean off. The Galah set
up a hideous, cawing, croaking shriek, and flew about, stopping
every few minutes to knock her head on the ground like a mad
bird. Oolah was so frightened when he saw what he had done, and
noticed that the blood was flowing from the Galah's head, that
he glided away to hide under a bindeah bush. But the Galah saw
him. She never stopped the hideous noise she was making for a
minute, but, still shrieking, followed Oolah. When she reached
the bindeah bush she rushed at Oolah, seized him with her beak,
rolled him on the bush until every bindeah had made a hole in
his skin. Then she rubbed his skin with her own bleeding head.
"Now then," she said, "you Oolah shall carry bindeahs
on you always, and the stain of my blood."
"And you," said Oolah, as he hissed with pain from
the tingling of the prickles, "shall be a bald-headed bird
as long as I am a red prickly lizard."
So to this day, underneath the Galah's crest you can always
find the bald patch which the bubberah of Oolah first made. And
in the country of the Galahs are lizards coloured reddish brown,
and covered with spikes like bindeah prickles.
Bahloo the Moon and the Daens
BAHLOO the moon looked down at the earth one night, when his
light was shining quite brightly, to see if any one was moving.
When the earth people were all asleep was the time he chose for
playing with his three dogs. He called them dogs, but the earth
people called them snakes, the death adder, the black snake,
and the tiger snake. As he looked down on to the earth, with
his three dogs beside him, Bahloo saw about a dozen daens, or
black fellows, crossing a Creek. He called to them saying, "Stop,
I want you to carry my dogs across that creek." But the
black fellows, though they liked Bahloo well, did not like his
dogs, for sometimes when he had brought these dogs to play on
the earth, they had bitten not only the earth dogs but their
masters; and the poison left by the bites had killed those bitten.
So the black fellows said, "No, Bahloo, we are too frightened;
your dogs might bite us. They are not like our dogs, whose bite
would not kill us."
Bahloo said, "If you do what I ask you, when you die
you shall come to life again, not die and stay always where you
are put when you are dead. See this piece of bark. I throw it
into the water." And he threw a piece of bark into the creek.
"See it comes to the top again and floats. That is what
would happen to you if you would do what I ask you: first under
when you die, then up again at once. If you will not take my
dogs over, you foolish daens, you will die like this," and
he threw a stone into the creek, which sank to the bottom. "You
will be like that stone, never rise again, Wombah daens!"
But the black fellows said, "We cannot do it, Bahloo.
We are too frightened of your dogs."
"I will come down and carry them over myself to show
you that they are quite safe and harmless." And down he
came, the black snake coiled round one arm, the tiger snake round
the other, and the death adder on his shoulder, coiled towards
his neck. He carried them over. When he had crossed the creek
he picked up a big stone, and he threw it into the water, saying,
"Now, you cowardly daens, you would not do what I, Bahloo,
asked you to do, and so forever you have lost the chance of rising
again after you die. You will just stay where you are put, like
that stone does under the water, and grow, as it does, to be
part of the earth. If you had done what I asked you, you could
have died as often as I die, and have come to life as often as
I come to life. But now you will only be black fellows while
you live, and bones when you are dead."
Bahloo looked so cross, and the three snakes hissed so fiercely,
that the black fellows were very glad to see them disappear from
their sight behind the trees. The black fellows had always been
frightened of Bahloo's dogs, and now they hated them, and they
said, "If we could get them away from Bahloo we would kill
tbem." And thenceforth, whenever they saw a snake alone
they killed it. But Babloo only sent more, for he said, "As
long as there are black fellows there sball be snakes to remind
them that they would not do what I asked them."
The Origin of the Narran Lake
OLD BYAMEE said to his two young wives, Birrahgnooloo and
Cunnunbeillee, "I have stuck a white feather between the
hind legs of a bee, and am going to let it go and then follow
it to its nest, that I may get honey. While I go for the honey,
go you two out and get frogs and yams, then meet me at Coorigel
Spring, where we will camp, for sweet and clear is the water
there." The wives, taking their goolays and yam sticks,
went out as he told them. Having gone far, and dug out many yams
and frogs, they were tired when they reached Coorigel, and, seeing
the cool, fresh water, they longed to bathe. But first they built
a bough shade, and there left their goolays holding their food,
and the yams and frogs they had found. When their camp was ready
for the coming of Byamee, who having wooed his wives with a nullah-nullah,
kept them obedient by fear of the same weapon, then went the
girls to the spring to bathe. Gladly they plunged in, having
first divested them selves of their goomillahs, which they were
still young enough to wear, and which they left on the ground
near the spring. Scarcely were they enjoying the cool rest the
water gave their hot, tired limbs, when they were seized and
swallowed by two kurreahs. Having swallowed the girls, the kurreahs
dived into an opening in the side of the spring, which was the
entrance to an underground watercourse leading to the Narran
River. Through this passage they went, taking all the water from
the spring with them into the Narran, whose course they also
dried as they went along.
Meantime Byamee, unwitting the fate of his wives, was honey
hunting. He had followed the bee with the white feather on it
for some distance; then the bee flew on to some budtha flowers,
and would move no further. Byamee said, "Something has happened,
or the bee would not stay here and refuse to be moved on towards
its nest. I must go to Coorigel Spring and see if my wives are
safe. Something terrible has surely happened." And Byamee
turned in haste towards the spring. When he reached there he.saw
the bough shed his wives had made, he saw the yams they had dug
from the ground, and he saw the frogs, but Birrahgnooloo and
Cunnunbeillee he saw not. He called aloud for them. But no answer.
He went towards the spring; on the edge of it he saw the goomillahs
of his wives. He looked into the spring and, seeing it dry, he
said, "It is the work of the kurreahs; they have opened
the underground passage and gone with my wives to the river,
and opening the passage has dried the spring. Well do I know
where the passage joins the Narran, and there will I swiftly
go." Arming himself with spears and woggarahs he started
in pursuit. He soon reached the deep hole where the underground
channel of the Coorigel joined the Narran. There he saw what
he had never seen before, namely, this deep hole dry. And he
said: "They have emptied the holes as they went along, taking
the water with them. But well know I the deep holes of the river.
I will not follow the bend, thus trebling the distance I have
to go, but I will cut across from big hole to big hole, and by
so doing I may yet get ahead of the kurreahs." On swiftly
sped Byamee, making short cuts from big hole to big hole, and
his track is still marked by the morilla ridges that stretch
down the Narran, pointing in towards the deep holes. Every hole
as he came to it he found dry, until at last he reached the end
of the Narran; the hole there was still quite wet and muddy,
then he knew he was near his enemies, and soon he saw them. He
managed to get, unseen, a little way ahead of the kurreahs. He
hid himself behind a big dheal tree. As the kurreahs came near
they separated, one turning to go in another direction. Quickly
Byamee hurled one spear after another, wounding both kurreahs,
who writhed with pain and lashed their tails furiously, making
great hollows in the ground, which the water they had brought
with them quickly filled. Thinking they might again escape him,
Byamee drove them from the water with his spears, and then, at
close quarters, he killed them with his woggarahs. And ever afterwards
at flood time, the Narran flowed into this hollow which the kurreahs
in their writhings had made.
When Byamee saw that the kurreahs were quite dead, he cut
them open and took out the bodies of his wives. They were covered
with wet slime, and seemed quite lifeless; but he carried them
and laid them on two nests of red ants. Then he sat down at some
little distance and watched them. The ants quickly covered the
bodies, cleaned them rapidly of the wet slime, and soon Byamee
noticed the muscles of the girls twitching. "Ah," he
said, there is life, they feel the sting of the ants."
Almost as he spoke came a sound as of a thunder-clap, but
the sound seemed to come from the ears of the girls. And as the
echo was dying away, slowly the girls rose to their feet. For
a moment they stood apart, a dazed expression on their faces.
Then they clung together, shaking as if stricken with a deadly
fear. But Byamee came to them and explained how they had been
rescued from the kurreahs by him. He bade them to beware of ever
bathing in the deep holes of the Narran, lest such holes be the
haunt of kurreahs.
Then he bade them look at the water now at Boogira, and he
"Soon will the black swans find their way here, the pelicans
and the ducks; where there was dry land and stones in the past,
in the future there will be water and water-fowl, from henceforth;
when the Narran runs it will run into this hole, and by the spreading
of its waters will a big lake be made." And what Byamee
said has come to pass, as the Narran Lake shows, with its large
sheet of water, spreading for miles, the home of thousands of
Gooloo the Magpie, and the Wahroogah
Gooloo was a very old woman, and a very wicked old woman too,
as this story will tell. During all the past season, when the
grass was thick with seed, she had gathered much doonburr, which
she crushed into meal as she wanted it for food. She used to
crush it on a big flat stone with small flat stones-the big stone
was called a dayoorl. Gooloo ground a great deal of the doonburr
seed to put away for immediate use, the rest she kept whole,
to be ground as required.
Soon after she had finished her first grinding, a neighbouring
tribe came along and camped near where she was. One day the men
all went out hunting, leaving the women and the children in the
camp. After the men had been gone a little while, Gooloo the
magpie came to their camp to talk to the women. She said, "Why
do you not go hunting too? Many are the nests of the wurranunnahs
round here, and thick is the honey in them. Many and ripe are
the bumbles hanging now on the humble trees; red is the fruit
of the grooees, and opening with ripeness the fruit of the guiebets.
Yet you sit in the camp and hunger, until your husbands return
with the dinewan and bowrah they have gone forth to slay. Go,
women, and gather of the plenty that surrounds you. I will take
care of your children, the little Wahroogabs."
"Your words are wise," the women said. "It
is foolish to sit here and hunger, when near at hand yams are
thick in the ground, and many fruits wait but the plucking. We
will go and fill quickly our comebees and goolays, but our children
we will take with us."
"Not so," said Gooloo, "foolish indeed were
you to do that. You would tire the little feet of those that
run, and tire yourselves with the burden of those that have to
be carried. No, take forth your comebees and goolays empty, that
ye may bring back the more. Many are the spoils that wait only
the hand of the gatherer. Look ye, I have a durrie made of fresh
doonburr seed, cooking just now on that bark between two fires;
that shall your children eat, and swiftly shall I make them another.
They shall eat and be full ere their mothers are out of sight.
See, they come to me now, they hunger for durrie, and well will
I feed them. Haste ye then, that ye may return in time to make
ready the fires for cooking the meat your husbands will bring.
Glad will your husbands be when they see that ye have filled
your goolays and comebees with fruits, and your wirrees with
honey. Haste ye, I say, and do well."
Having listened to the words of Gooloo, the women decided
to do as she said, and, leaving their children with her, they
started forth with empty comebees, and armed with combos, with
which to chop out the bees' nests and opossums, and with yam
sticks to dig up yams.
When the women had gone, Gooloo gathered the children round
her and fed them with durrie, hot from the coals. Honey, too,
she gave them, and bumbles which she had buried to ripen. When
they had eaten, she hurried them off to her real home, built
in a hollow tree, a little distance away from where she had been
cooking her durrie. Into her house she hurriedly thrust them,
followed quickly herself, and made all secure. Here she fed them
again, but the children had already satisfied their hunger, and
now they missed their mothers and began to cry. Their crying
reached the ears of the women as they were returning to their
camp. Quickly they came at the sound which is not good in a mother's
ears. As they quickened their steps they thought how soon the
spoils that lay heavy in their comebees would comfort their children.
And happy they, the mothers, would feel when they fed the Wahroogahs
with the dainties they had gathered for them. Soon they reached
the camp, but, alas! where were their children? And where was
Gooloo the magpie?
"They are playing wahgoo," they said, "and
have hidden themselves."
The mothers hunted all round for them, and called aloud the
names of their children and Gooloo. But no answer could they
hear and no trace could they find. And yet every now and then
they heard the sound of children wailing. But seek as they would
they found them not. Then loudly wailed the mothers themselves
for their lost Wahroogahs, and, wailing, returned to the camp
to wait the coming of the black fellows. Heavy were their hearts,
and sad were their faces when their husbands returned. They hastened
to tell the black fellows when they came, how Gooloo had persuaded
them to go hunting, promising if they did so that she would feed
the hungry Wahroogahs, and care for them while they were away,
but-and here they wailed again for their poor Wahroogahs. They
told how they had listened to her words and gone; truth had she
told of the plenty round, their comebees and goolays were full
of fruits and spoils they had gathered, but, alas! they came
home with them laden only to find their children gone and Gooloo
gone too. And no trace could they find of either, though at times
they heard a sound as of children wailing.
Then wroth were the men, saying: "What mothers are ye
to leave your young to a stranger, and that stranger a Gooloo,
ever a treacherous race? Did we not go forth to gain food for
you and our children? Saw ye ever your husbands return from the
chase empty handed? Then why, when ye knew we were gone hunting,
must ye too go forth and leave our helpless ones to a stranger?
Oh, evil, evil indeed is the time that has come when a mother
forgets her child. Stay ye in the camp while we go forth to hunt
for our lost Wahroogahs. Heavy will be our hands on the women
if we return without them."
The men hunted the bush round for miles, but found no trace
of the lost Wahroogahs, though they too heard at times a noise
as of children's voices wailing.
But beyond the wailing which echoed in the mothers' ears for
ever, no trace was found of the children. For many days the women
sat in the camp mourning for their lost Wahroogahs, and beating
their heads because they had listened to the voice of Gooloo.
The Weeoonibeens and the Piggiebillah
Two Weeoombeen brothers went out hunting. One brother was
much younger than the other and smaller, so when they sighted
an emu, the elder one said to the younger: "You stay quietly
here and do not make a noise, or Piggiebillah, whose camp we
passed just now, will hear you and steal the emu if I kill it.
He is so strong. I'll go on and try to kill the emu with this
stone." The little Weeoombeen watched his big brother sneak
up to the emu, crawling along, almost flat, on the ground. He
saw him get quite close to the emu, then spring up quickly and
throw the stone with such an accurate aim as to kill the bird
on the spot. The little brother was so rejoiced that he forgot
his brother's caution, and he called aloud in his joy. The big
Weeoombeen looked round and gave him a warning sign, but too
late, Piggiebillah had heard the cry and was hastening towards
them. Quickly big Weeoombeen left the emu and joined his little
Piggiebillah, when he came up, said: "What have you found?"
"Nothing," said the big Weeoombeen, "nothing
but some mistletoe berries."
"It must have been something more than that, or your
little brother would not have called out so loudly."
Little Weeoombeen was so afraid that Piggiebillah would find
their emu and take it, that he said: "I hit a little bird
with a stone, and I was glad I could throw so straight."
"It was no cry for the killing of a little bird or for
the finding of mistletoe berries that I heard. It was for something
much more than either, or you would not have called out so joyfully.
If you do not tell me at once I will kill you both."
The Weeoombeen brothers were frightened, for Piggiebillah
was a great fighter and very strong, so when they saw he was
really angry, they showed him the dead emu.
"Just what I want for my supper," he said, and so
saying, dragged it away to his own camp. The Weeoombeens followed
him and even helped him to make a fire to cook the emu, hoping
by so doing to get a share given to them. But Piggiebillah would
not give them any; he said he must have it all for himself.
Angry and disappointed, the Weeoombeens marched straight off
and told some black fellows who lived near, that Piggiebillah
had a fine fat emu just cooked for supper.
Up jumped the black fellows, seized their spears, bade the
Weeoombeens quickly lead them to Piggiebillah's camp, promising
them for so doing a share of the emu.
When they were within range of spear shot, the black fellows
formed a circle, took aim, and threw their spears at Piggiebillah.
As the spears fell thick on him, sticking out all over him, Piggiebillah
cried aloud: "Bingehlah, Bingeblah. You can have it, you
can have it." But the black fellows did not desist until
Piggiebillah was too wounded even to cry out; then they left
him a mass of spears and turned to look for the emu. But to their
surprise they found it not. Then for the first time they missed
Looking round they saw their tracks going to where the emu
had evidently been; then they saw that they had dragged the emu
to their nyunnoo, which was a humpy made of grass.
When the Weeoombeens saw the black fellows coming, they caught
hold of the emu and dragged it to a big hole they knew of, with
a big stone at its entrance, which stone only they knew the secret
of moving. They moved the stone, got the emu and themselves into
the hole, and the stone in place again before the black fellows
reached the place.
The black fellows tried to move the stone, but could not.
Yet they knew that the Weeoombeens must have done so, for they
had tracked them right up to it, and they could hear the sound
of their voices on the other side of it. They saw there was a
crevice on either side of the stone, between it and the ground.
Through these crevices they, drove in their spears, thinking
they must surely kill the brothers. But the Weeoombeens too had
seen these crevices and had anticipated the spears, so they had
placed the dead emu before them to act as a shield. And into
its body were driven the spears of the black fellows extended
for the Weeoombeens.
Having driven the spears well in, the black fellows went off
to get help to move the stone, but when they had gone a little
way they heard the Weeoombeens laughing. Back they came and speared
again, and again started for help, only as they left to hear
once more the laughter of the brothers.
The Weeoombeens finding their laughter only brought back the
black fellows to a fresh attack, determined to keep quiet, which,
after the next spearing, they did.
Quite sure, when they heard their spear shots followed by
neither conversation nor laughter, that they had killed the Weeoombeens
at last, the black fellows hurried away to bring back the strength
and cunning of the camp, to remove the stone.
The Weeoombeens hurriedly discussed what plan they had better
adopt to elude the black fellows, for well they knew that should
they ever meet any of them again they would be killed without
mercy. And as they talked they satisfied their hunger by eating
some of the emu flesh.
After a while the black fellows returned, and soon was the
stone removed from the entrance. Some of them crept into the
hole, where, to their surprise, they found only the remains of
the emu and no trace of the Weeoombeens. As those who had gone
in first crept out and told of the disappearance of the Weeoombeens,
others, incredulous of such a story, crept in to find it confirmed.
They searched round for tracks; seeing that their spears were
all in the emu it seemed to them probable the Weeoombeens had
escaped alive, but if so, whither they had gone their tracks
would show. But search as they would no tracks could they find.
All they could see were two little birds which sat on a bush
near the hole, watching the black fellows all the time. The little
birds flew round the hole sometimes, but never away, always returning
to their bush and seeming to be discussing the whole affair;
but what they said the black fellows could not understand. But
as time went on and no sign was ever found of the Weeoombeens,
the black fellows became sure that the brothers had turned into
the little white-throated birds which had sat on the bush by
the hole, so, they supposed, to escape their vengeance. And ever
afterwards the little white-throats were called Weeoombeens.
And the memory of Piggiebillah is perpetuated by a sort of porcupine
ant-eater, which bears his name, and whose skin is covered closely
with miniature spears sticking all over it.
Bootoolgah the Crane and Goonur the Kangaroo Rat,
the Fire Makers
IN the days when Bootoolgah, the crane, married Goonur, the
kangaroo rat, there was no fire in their country. They had to
eat their food raw or just dry it in the sun. One day when Bootoolgah
was rubbing two pieces of wood together, he saw a faint spark
sent forth and then a slight smoke. "Look," he said
to Goonur, "see what comes when I rub these pieces of wood
together-smoke! Would it not be good if we could make fire for
ourselves with which to cook our food, so as not to have to wait
for the sun to dry it?"
Goonur looked, and, seeing the smoke, she said: "Great
indeed would be the day when we could make fire. Split your stick,
Bootoolgah, and place in the opening bark and grass that even
one spark may kindle a light." And hearing wisdom in her
words, even as she said Bootoolgah did. And lol after much rubbing,
from the opening came a small flame. For as Goonur had said it
would, the spark lit the grass, the bark smouldered and smoked,
and so Bootoolgah the crane, and Goonur the kangaroo rat, discovered
the art of fire making.
"This we will keep secret," they said, "from
all the tribes. When we make a fire to cook our fish we will
go into a Bingahwingul scrub. There we will make a fire and cook
our food in secret. We will hide our firesticks in the openmouthed
seeds of the Bingahwinguls; one firestick we will carry always
hidden in our comebee."
Bootoolgah and Goonur cooked the next fish they caught, and
found it very good. When they went back to the camp they took
some of their cooked fish with them. The blacks noticed it looked
quite different from the usual sun-dried fish, so they asked:
"What did you to that fish?
"Let it lie in the sun," said they.
"Not so," said the others.
But that the fish was sun-dried Bootoolgah and Goonur persisted.
Day by day passed, and after catching their fish, these two always
disappeared, returning with their food looking quite different
from that of the others. At last, being unable to extract any
information from them, it was determined by the tribe to watch
them. Boolooral, the night owl, and Quarrian, the parrot, were
appointed to follow the two when they disappeared, to watch where
they went, and find out what they did. Accordingly, after the
next fish were caught, when Bootoolgah and Goonur gathered up
their share and started for the bush, Boolooral and Quarrian
followed on their tracks. They saw them disappear into a Bingahwingul
scrub, where they lost sight of them. Seeing a high tree on the
edge of the scrub, they climbed up it, and from there they saw
all that was to be seen. They saw Bootoolgah and Goonur throw
down their load of fish, open their comebee and take from it
a stick, which stick, when they had blown upon it, they laid
in the midst of a heap of leaves and twigs, and at once from
this heap they saw a flame leap, which flame the fire makers
fed with bigger sticks. Then, as the flame died down, they saw
the two place their fish in the ashes that remained from the
burnt sticks. Then back to the camp of their tribes went Boolooral
and Quarrian, back with the news of their discovery. Great was
the talk amongst the blacks, and many the queries as to how to
get possession of the comebee with the fire stick in it, when
next Bootoolgah and Goonur came into the camp. It was at length
decided to hold a corrobboree, and it was to be one on a scale
not often seen, probably never before by the young of the tribes.
The grey beards proposed to so astonish Bootoolgah and Goonur
as to make them forget to guard their precious comebee. As soon
as they were intent on the corrobboree and off guard, some one
was to seize the comebee, steal the firestick and start fires
for the good of all. Most of them had tasted the cooked fish
brought into the camp by the fire makers and, having found it
good, hungered for it. Beeargah, the hawk, was told to feign
sickness, to tie up his head, and to lie down near wherever the
two sat to watch the corrobboree. Lying near them, be was to
watch them all the time, and when they were laughing and unthinking
of anything but the spectacle before them, he was to steal the
comebee. Having arranged their plan of action, they all prepared
for a big corrobboree. They sent word to all the surrounding
tribes, asking them to attend, especially they begged the Bralgahs
to come, as they were celebrated for their wonderful dancing,
which was so wonderful as to be most likely to absorb the attention
of the firemakers.
All the tribes agreed to come, and soon all were engaged in
great preparations. Each determined to outdo the other in the
quaintness and brightness of their painting for the corrobboree.
Each tribe as they arrived gained great applause; never before
had the young people seen so much diversity in colouring and
design. Beeleer, the Black Cockatoo tribe, came with bright splashes
of orange-red on their black skins. The Pelicans came as a contrast,
almost pure white, only a touch here and there of their black
skin showing where the white paint had rubbed off. The Black
Divers came in their black skins, but these polished to shine
like satin. Then came the Millears, the beauties of the Kangaroo
Rat family, who had their home on the morillas. After them came
the Buckandeer or Native Cat tribe, painted in dull colours,
but in all sorts of patterns. Mairas or Paddymelons came too
in haste to take part in the great corrobboree. After them, walking
slowly, came the Bralgahs, looking tall and dignified as they
held up their red heads, painted so in contrast to their French-grey
bodies, which they deemed too dull a colour, unbrightened, for
such a gay occasion. Amongst the many tribes there, too numerous
to mention, were the rose and grey painted Galabs, the green
and crimson painted Billai; most brilliant were they with their
bodies grass green and their sides bright crimson, so afterwards
gaining them the name of crimson wings. The bright little Gidgereegahs
Great was the gathering that Bootoolgah, the crane, and Goonur,
the kangaroo rat, found assembled as they hurried on to the scene.
Bootoolgah had warned Goonur that they must only be spectators,
and take no active part in the corrobboree, as they had to guard
their combee. Obedient to his advice, Goonur seated herself beside
him and slung the comebee over her arm. Bootoolgah warned her
to be careful and not forget she had it. But as the corrobboree
went on, so absorbed did she become that she forgot the comebee,
which slipped from her arm. Happily, Bootoolgah saw it do so,
replaced it, and bade her take heed, so baulking Beeargah, who
had been about to seize it, for his vigilance was unceasing,
and, deeming him sick almost unto death, the two whom lie was
watching took no heed of him. Back he crouched, moaning as he
turned., but keeping ever an eye on Goonur. And soon was he rewarded.
Now came the turn of the Bralgahs to dance, and every eye but
that of the watchful one was fixed on them as slowly they came
into the ring. First they advanced, bowed and retired, then they
repeated what they had done before, and again, each time getting
faster and faster in their movements, changing their bows into
pirouettes, craning their long necks and making such antics as
they went through the figures of their dance, and replacing their
dignity with such grotesqueness, as to make their large audience
shake with laughter, they themselves keeping throughout all their
grotesque measures a solemn air, which only seemed to heighten
the effect of their antics.
And now came the chance of Beeargah the hawk. In the excitement
of the moment Goonur forgot the comebee, as did Bootoolgah. They
joined in the mirthful applause of the crowd, and Goonur threw
herself back helpless with laughter. As she did so the comebee
slipped from her arm. Then up jumped the sick man from behind
her, seized the comebee with his combo, cut it open, snatched
forth the firestick, set fire to the heap of grass ready near
where he had lain, and all before the two realised their loss.
When they discovered the precious comebee was gone, up jumped
Bootoolgah and Goonur. After Beeargah ran Bootoolgah, but Beeargah
had a start and was fleeter of foot, so distanced his pursuer
quickly. As he ran he fired the grass with the stick he still
held. Bootoolgah, finding he could not catch Beeargah, and seeing
fires everywhere, retired from the pursuit, feeling it was useless
now to try and guard their secret, for it had now become the
common property of all the tribes there assembled.
Weedah the Mocking Bird
WEEDAH was playing a great trick on the black fellows who
lived near him. He had built himself a number of grass nyunnoos,
more than twenty. He made fires before each, to make it look
as if some one lived in the nyunnoos. First he would go into
one nyunnoo, or humpy, and cry like a baby, then to another and
laugh like a child, then in turn, as he went the round of the
humpies he would sing like a maiden, corrobboree like a man,
call out in a quavering voice like an old man, and in a shrill
voice like an old woman; in fact, imitate any sort of voice he
had ever heard, and imitate them so quickly in succession that
any one passing would think there was a great crowd of blacks
in that camp. His object was to entice as many strange black
fellows into his camp as he could, one at a time; then he would
kill them and gradually gain the whole country round for his
own. His chance was when he managed to get a single black fellow
into his camp, which he very often did, then by his cunning he
always gained his end and the black fellow's death. This was
how he attained that end. A black fellow, probably separated
from his fellows in the excitement of the chase, would be returning
home alone passing within earshot of Weedah's camp he would hear
the various voices and wonder what tribe could be there. Curiosity
would induce him to come near. He would probably peer into the
camp, and, only seeing Weedah standing alone, would advance towards
him. Weedah would be standing at a little distance from a big
glowing fire, where he would wait until the strange black fellow
came quite close to him. Then he would ask him what he wanted.
The stranger would say he had heard many voices and had wondered
what tribe it could be, so had come near to find out. Weedah
would say, "But only I am here. How could you have heard
voices? See; look round; I am alone." Bewildered, the stranger
would look round and say in a puzzled tone of voice: "Where
are they all gone? As I came I heard babies crying, men calling,
and women laughing; many voices I heard but you only I see."
"And only I am here. The wind must have stirred the branches
of the balah trees, and you must have thought it was the wailing
of children, the laughing of the gouggourgahgah you heard, and
thought it the laughter of women and mine must have been the
voice as of men that you heard. Alone in the bush, as the shadows
fall, a man breeds strange fancies. See by the light of this
fire, where are your fancies now? No women laugh, no babies cry,
only I, Weedah, talk." As Weedah was talking he kept edging
the stranger towards the fire; when they were quite close to
it, he turned swiftly, seized him, and threw him right into the
middle of the blaze. This scene was repeated time after time,
until at last the, ranks of the black fellows living round the
camp of Weedah began to get thin.
Mullyan, the eagle hawk, determined to fathom the mystery,
for as yet the black fellows had no clue as to how or where their
friends had disappeared. Mullyan, when Beeargah, his cousin,
returned to his camp no more, made up his mind to get on his
track and follow it, until at length he solved the mystery. After
following the track of Beeargah, as he had chased the kangaroo
to where he had slain it, on he followed his homeward trail.
Over stony ground he tracked him, and through sand, across plains,
and through scrub. At last in a scrub and still on the track
of Beeargah, he heard the sounds of many voices, babies crying,
women singing, men talking. Peering through the bush, finding
the track took him nearer the spot whence came the sounds, he
saw the grass humpies. "Who can these be?" he thought.
The track led him right into the camp, where alone Weedah was
to be seen. Mullyan advanced towards him and asked where were
the people whose voices he had heard as he came through the bush.
Weedah said: "How can I tell you? I know of no people;
I live alone."
"But," said Mullyan, the eagle hawk, "I heard
babies crying, women laughing, and men talking, not one but many."
"And I alone am here. Ask of your cars what trick they
played you, or perhaps your eyes fail you now. Can you see any
but me? Look for yourself."
"And if, as indeed it seems, you only are here, what
did you with Beeargah my cousin, and where are my friends? Many
are their trails that I see coming into. this camp, but none
going out. And if you alone live here you alone can answer me."
"What know I of you or your friends? Nothing. Ask of
the winds that blow. Ask of Bahloo the moon, who looks down on
the earth by night. Ask of Yhi the sun, that looks down by day.
But ask not Weedah, who dwells alone, and knows naught of your
friends." But as Weedah was talking he was carefully edging
Mullyan towards the fire.
Mullyan, the eagle hawk, too, was cunning, and not easy to
trap. He saw a blazing fire in front of him, lie saw the track
of his friend behind him, he saw Weedah was edging him towards
the fire, and it came to him in a moment the thought that if
the fire could speak, well could it tell where were his friends.
But the time was not yet come to show that he had fathomed the
mystery. So he affected to fall into the trap. But when they
reached the fire, before Weedah had time to act his usual part,
with a mighty grip Mullyan the eagle hawk seized him, saying,
Even as you served Beeargah the hawk, my cousin, and my friends,
so now serve I you." And right into the middle of the blazing
fire he threw him. Then he turned homewards in haste, to tell
the black fellows that he had solved the fate of their friends,
which had so long been a mystery. When he was some distance from
the Weedah's camp, he heard the sound of a thunder clap. But
it was not thunder it was the bursting of the back of Weedah's
head, which had burst with a bang as of a thunder clap. And as
it burst, out from his remains had risen a bird, Weedah, the
mocking bird; which bird to this day has a hole at the back of
his head, just in the same place as Weedah the black fellow's
head had burst, and whence the bird came forth.
To this day the Weedah makes grass playgrounds, through which
he runs, imitating, as he plays, in quick succession, any voices
he has ever heard, from the crying of a child to the laughing
of a woman; from the mewing of a cat to the barking of a dog,
and hence his name Weedah, the mocking bird.
The Gwineeboos the Redbreasts
GWINEEBOO and Goomai, the water rat, were down at the creek
one day, getting mussels for food, when, to their astonishment,
a kangaroo hopped right into the water beside them. Well they
knew that he must be escaping from hunters, who were probably
pressing him close. So Gwineeboo quickly seized her yam stick,
and knocked the kangaroo on the head; he was caught fast in the
weeds in the creek, so could not escape. When the two old women
had killed the kangaroo they hid its body under the weeds in
the creek, fearing to take it out and cook it straight away,
lest the hunters should come up and claim it. The little son
of Gwineeboo watched them from the bank. After having hidden
the kangaroo, the women picked up their mussels and started for
their camp, when up came the hunters, Quarrian and Gidgereegah,
who had tracked the kangaroo right to the creek.
Seeing the women they said: "Did you see a kangaroo?"
The women answered: "No. We saw no kangaroo."
"That is strange, for we have tracked it right up to
"We have seen no kangaroo. See, we have been digging
out mussels for food. Come to our camp, and we will give you
some when they are cooked."
The young men, puzzled in their minds, followed the women
to their camp, and when the mussels were cooked the hunters joined
the old women at their dinner. The little boy would not eat the
mussels; he kept crying to his mother, "Gwineeboo, Gwineeboo.
I want kangaroo. I want kangaroo. Gwineeboo. Gwineeboo."
"There," said Quarrian. "Your little boy has
seen the kangaroo, and wants some; it must be here somewhere."
"Oh, no. He cries for anything he thinks of, some days
for kangaroo; he is only a little boy, and does not know what
he wants," said old Gwineeboo. But still the child kept
saying, "Gwineeboo. Gwinceboo. I want kangaroo. I want kangaroo."
Goomai was so angry with little Gwineeboo for keeping on asking
for kangaroo, and thereby making the young men suspicious, that
she hit him so hard on the mouth to keep him quiet, that the
blood came, and trickled down his breast, staining it red. When
she saw this, old Gwineeboo grew angry in her turn, and hit old
Goomai, who returned the blow, and so a fight began, more words
than blows, so the noise was great, the women fighting, little
Gwineeboo crying, not quite knowing whether he was crying because
Goomai had hit him, because his mother was fighting, or because
he still wanted kangaroo.
Quarrian said to Gidgereegah. "They have the kangaroo
somewhere hidden; let us slip away now in the confusion. We will
only hide, then come back in a little while, and surprise them."
They went quietly away, and as soon as the two women noticed
they had gone, they ceased fighting, and determined to cook the
kangaroo. They watched the two young men out of sight, and waited
some time so as to be sure that they were safe. Then down they
hurried to get the kangaroo. They dragged it out, and were just
making a big fire on which to cook it, when up came Quarrian
and Gidgereegah, saying:
"Ah! we thought so. You had our kangaroo all the time;
little Gwinceboo was right."
"But we killed it," said the women.
"But we hunted it here," said the men, and so saying
caught hold of the kangaroo and dragged it away to some distance,
where they made a fire and cooked it. Goomai, Gwineeboo, and
her little boy went over to Quarrian and Gidgereegah, and begged
for some of the meat, but the young men would give them none,
though little Gwineeboo cried piteously for some. But no; they
said they would rather throw what they did not want to the hawks
than give it to the women or child. At last, seeing that there
was no hope of their getting any, the women went away. They built
a big dardurr for themselves, shutting themselves and the little
boy up in it. Then they began singing a song which was to invoke
a storm to destroy their enemies, for so now they considered
Quarrian and Gidgereegah. For some time they chanted:
"Moogaray, Moogaray, May, May,
Eehu, Eehu, Doongarah."
First they would begin very slowly and softly, gradually getting
quicker and louder, until at length they almost shrieked it out.
The words they said meant, "Come hailstones; come wind;
come rain; come lightning."
While they were chanting, little Gwineeboo kept crying, and
would not be comforted. Soon came a few big drops of rain, then
a big wind, and as that lulled, more rain. Then came thunder
and lightning, the air grew bitterly cold, and there came a pitiless
hailstorm, hailstones bigger than a duck's egg fell, cutting
the leaves from the trees and bruising their bark. Gidgereegah
and Quarrian came running over to the dardurr and begged the
women to let them in.
" No," shrieked Gwineeboo above the storm, "there
was no kangaroo meat for us: there is no dardurr shelter for
you. Ask shelter of the hawks whom ye fed." The men begged
to be let in, said they would hunt again and get kangaroo for
the women, not one but many. "No," again shrieked the
women. "You would not even listen to the crying of a little
child; it is better such as you should perish." And fiercer
raged the storm and louder sang the women:
"Moogaray, Moogaray, May, May,
Eehu, Eehu, Doongarah."
So long and so fierce was the storm that the young men must
have perished had they not been changed into birds. First they
were changed into birds and afterwards into stars in the sky,
where they now are, Gidgereegah and Ouarrian with the kangaroo
between them, still bearing the names that they bore on the earth.
Meamei the Seven Sisters
WURRUNNAH had had a long day's hunting, and he came back to
the camp tired and hungry. He asked his old mother for durrie,
but she said there was none left. Then he asked some of the other
blacks to give him some doonburr seeds that he might make durrie
for himself, But no one would give him anything. He flew into
a rage and he said, "I will go to a far country and live
with strangers; my own people would starve me." And while
he was yet hot and angry, he went. Gathering up his weapons,
he strode forth to find a new people in a new country. After
he had gone some distance, he saw, a long way off, an old man
chopping out bees' nests. The old man turned his face towards
Wurrunnah, and watched him coming, but when Wurrunnah came close
to him he saw that the old man had no eyes, though he had seemed
to be watching him long before he could have heard him. It frightened
Wurrunnah to see a stranger having no eyes, yet turning his face
towards him as if seeing him all the time. But he determined
not to show his fear, but go straight on towards him, which he
did. When he came up to him, the stranger told him that his name
was Mooroonumildah, and that his tribe were so-called because
they had no eyes, but saw through their noses. Wurrunnah thought
it very strange and still felt rather frightened, though Mooroonumildah
seemed hospitable and kind, for, he gave Wurrunnah, whom he said
looked hungry, a bark wirree filled with honey, told him where
his camp was, and gave him leave to go there and stay with him.
Wurrunnah took the honey and turned as if to go to the camp,
but when he got out of sight he thought it wiser to turn in another
direction. He journeyed on for some time, until he came to a
large lagoon, where he decided to camp. He took a long drink
of water, and then lay down to sleep. When he woke in the morning,
he looked towards the lagoon, but saw only a big plain. He thought
he must be dreaming; he rubbed his eyes and looked again.
"This is a strange country," he said. "First
I meet a man who has no eyes and yet can see. Then at night I
see a large lagoon full of water, I wake in the morning and see
none. The water was surely there, for I drank some, and yet now
there is no water." As he was wondering how the water could
have disappeared so quickly, he saw a big storm coming up; he
hurried to get into the thick bush for shelter. When he had gone
a little way into the,bush, he saw a quantity of cut bark lying
on the ground.
"Now I am right," he said. "I shall get some
poles and with them and this bark make a dardurr in which to
shelter myself from the storm I see coming."
He quickly cut the poles he wanted, stuck them up as a framework
for his dardurr. Then he went to lift up the bark. As he lifted
up a sheet of it he saw a strange-looking object of no tribe
that he had ever seen before.
This strange object cried out: "I am Bulgahnunnoo,"
in such a terrifying tone that Wurrunnah dropped the bark, picked
up his weapons and ran away as hard as he could, quite forgetting
the storm. His one idea was to get as far as he could from Bulgahnunnoo.
On he ran until he came to a big river, which hemmed him in
on three sides. The river was too big to cross, so he had to
turn back, yet he did not retrace his steps but turned in another
direction. As he turned to leave the river he saw a flock of
emus coming to water. The first half of the flock were covered
with feathers, but the last half had the form of emus, but no
Wurrunnah decided to spear one for food. For that purpose
he climbed up a tree, so that they should not see him; he got
his spear ready to kill one of the featherless birds. As they
passed by, he picked out the one he meant to have, threw his
spear and killed it, then climbed down to go and get it.
As he was running up to the dead emu, he saw that they were
not emus at all but black fellows of a strange tribe. They were
all standing round their dead friend making savage signs, as
to what they would do by way of vengeance. Wurrunnah saw that
little would avail him the excuse that he had killed the black
fellow in mistake for an emu; his only hope lay in flight. Once
more he took to his heels, hardly daring to look round for fear
he would see an enemy behind him. On he sped, until at last he
reached a camp, which be was almost into before he saw it; he
had only been thinking of danger behind him, unheeding what was
However, he had nothing to fear in the camp he reached so
suddenly, for in it were only seven young girls. They did not
look very terrifying, in fact, seemed more startled than he was.
They were quite friendly towards him when they found that he
was alone and hungry. They gave him food and allowed him to camp
there that night. He asked them where the rest of their tribe
were, and what their name was. They answered that their name
was Meamei, and that their tribe were in a far country. They
had only come to this country to see what it was like; they would
stay for a while and thence return whence they had come.
The next day Wurrunnah made a fresh start, and left the camp
of the Meamei, as if he were leaving for good. But he determined
to hide near and watch what they did, and if he could get a chance
he would steal a wife from amongst them. He was tired of travelling
alone. He saw the seven sisters all start out with their yam
sticks in hand. He followed at a distance, taking care not to
be seen. He saw them stop by the nests of some flying ants. With
their yam sticks they dug all round these ant holes. When they
had successfully unearthed the ants they sat down, throwing their
yam sticks on one side, to enjoy a feast, for these ants were
esteemed by them a great delicacy.
While the sisters were busy at their feast, Wurrunnah sneaked
up to their yam sticks and stole two of them; then, taking the
sticks with him, sneaked back to his hiding-place. When at length
the Meamei had satisfied their appetites, they picked up their
sticks and turned towards their camp again. But only five could
find their sticks; so those five started off, leaving the other
two to find theirs, supposing they must be somewhere near, and,
finding them, they would soon catch them up. The two girls hunted
all round the ants' nests, but could find no sticks. At last,
when their backs were turned towards him, Wurrunnah crept out
and stuck the lost yam sticks near together in the ground; then
he slipt back into his hiding-place. When the two girls turned
round, there in front of them they saw their sticks. With a cry
of joyful surprise they ran to them and caught hold of them to
pull them out of the ground, in which they were firmly stuck.
As they were doing so, out from his hiding-place jumped Wurrunnah.
He seized both girls round their waists, holding them tightly.
They struggled and screamed, but to no purpose. There were none
near to hear them, and the more they struggled the tighter Wurrunnah
held them. Finding their screams and struggles in vain they quietened
at length, and then Wurrunnah told them not to be afraid, he
would take care of them. He was lonely, he said, and wanted two
wives. They must come quietly with him, and he would be good
to them. But they must do as he told them. If they were not quiet,
he would swiftly quieten them with his moorillah. But if they
would come quietly with him he would be good to them. Seeing
that resistance was useless, the two young girls complied with
his wish, and travelled quietly on with him. They told him that
some day their tribe would come and steal them back again; to
avoid which he travelled quickly on and on still further, hoping
to elude all pursuit. Some weeks passed, and, outwardly, the
two Meamei seemed settled down to their new life, and quite content
in it, though when they were alone together they often talked
of their sisters, and wondered what they had done when they realised
their loss. They wondered if the five were still hunting for
them, or whether they had gone back to their tribe to get assistance.
That they might be in time forgotten and left with Wurrunnali
for ever, they never once for a moment thought. One day when
they were camped Wurrunnah said: "This fire will not burn
well. Go you two and get some bark from those two pine trees
"No," they said, "we must not cut pine bark.
If we did, you would never more see us."
"Go! I tell you, cut pine bark. I want it. See you not
the fire burns but slowly?"
"If we go, Wurrunnah, we shall never return. You will
see us no more in this country. We know it."
"Go, women, stay not to talk. Did ye ever see talk make
a fire burn? Then why stand ye there talking? Go; do as I bid
you. Talk not so foolishly; if you ran away soon should I catch
you, and, catching you, would beat you hard. Go I talk no more."
The Meamei went, taking with them their combos with which
to cut the bark. They went each to a different tree, and each,
with a strong hit, drove her combo into the bark. As she did
so, each felt the tree that her combo had struck rising higher
out of the ground and bearing her upward with it. Higher and
higher grew the pine trees, and still on them, higher and higher
from the earth, went the two girls. Hearing no chopping after
the first hits, Wurrunnah came towards the pines to see what
was keeping the girls so long. As he came near them he saw that
the pine trees were growing taller even as he looked at them,
and clinging to the trunks of the trees high in the air he saw
his two wives. He called to them to come down, but they made
no answer. Time after time he called to them as higher and higher
they went, but still they made no answer. Steadily taller grew
the two pines, until at last their tops touched the sky. As they
did so, from the sky the five Meamei looked out, called to their
two sisters on the pine trees, bidding them not to be afraid
but to come to them. Quickly the two girls climbed up when they
heard the voices of their sisters. When they reached the tops
of the pines the five sisters in the sky stretched forth their
hands, and drew them in to live with them there in the sky for
And there, if you look, you may see the seven sisters together.
You perhaps know them as the Pleiades, but the black fellows
call them the Meamei.
The Cookooburrahs and the Goolahgool
GOOGARH, the iguana, was married to Moodai, the opossum and
Cookooburrah, the laughing jackass. Cookooburrah was the mother
of three sons, one grown up and living away from her, the other
two only little boys. They had their camps near a goolahgool,
whence they obtained water. A goolahgool is a water-holding tree,
of the iron bark or box species. It is a tree with a split in
the fork of it, and hollow below the fork. After heavy rain,
this hollow trunk would be full of water, which water would have
run into it through the split in the fork. A goolahgool would
hold water for a long time. The blacks knew a goolahgool, amongst
other trees, by the mark which the overflow of water made down
the trunk of the tree, discolouring the bark.
One day, Googarh, the iguana, and his two wives went out hunting,
leaving the two little Cookooburrahs at the camp. They had taken
out water for themselves in their opossum skin water bags, but
they had left none for the children, who were too small to get
any from the goolahgool for themselves, so nearly perished from
thirst. Their tongues were swollen in their mouths, and they
were quite speechless, when they saw a man coming towards them.
When he came near, they saw it was Cookooburrah, their big brother.
They could not speak to him and answer, when he asked where his
mother was. Then he asked them what was the matter. All they
could do was to point towards the tree. He looked at it, and
saw it was a goolahgool, so he said: "Did your mother leave
you no water?" They shook their heads. He said: "Then
you are perishing for want of a drink, my brothers?" They
nodded. "Go," he said a little way off, and you shall
see how I will punish them for leaving my little brothers to
perish of thirst." He went towards the tree, climbed up
it, and split it right down. As he did so, out gushed the water
in a swiftly running stream. Soon the little fellows quenched
their thirst and then, in their joy, bathed in the water, which
grew in volume every moment.
In the meantime, those who had gone forth to hunt were returning,
and as they came towards their camp they met a running stream
of water. "What is this? " they said, "our goolahgool
must have burst," and they tried to dam the water, but it
was running too strongly for them. They gave up the effort and
hurried on towards their camp. But they found a deep stream divided
them from their camp. The three Cookooburrahs saw them, and the
eldest one said to the little fellows: "You call out and
tell them to cross down there, where it is not deep." The
little ones called out as they were told, and where they pointed
Googarh and his wives waded into the stream. Finding she was
getting out of her depth, Cookooburrah the laughing jackass cried
out: "Goug gour gah gah. Goug gour gah gah. Give ine a stick.
Give me a stick."
But from the bank her sons only answered in derision: "Goug
gour gah gah. Goug gour gah gah." And the three hunters
were soon engulfed in the rushing stream, drawn down by the current
THE blacks had all left their camp and gone away to attend
a borah. Nothing was left in the camp but one very old dog, too
old to travel. After the blacks had been gone about three days,
one night came their enemies, the Gooeeays, intending to surprise
them and kill them.
Painted in all the glory of their war-paint came the Gooeeays,
their hair tied in top-knots and ornamented with feathers and
kangaroos' teeth. Their waywahs of paddy, melon, and kangaroo
rat skins cut in strips, round their waists, were new and strong,
holding firmly some of their boomerangs and woggoorahs, which
they had stuck through them.
But prepared as they were for conquest, they found only a
deserted camp containing naught but one old dog. They asked the
old dog where the blacks were gone. But he only shook his head.
Again and again they asked him, and again and again he only shook
his head. At last some of the black fellows raised their spears
and their moorillahs or nullah-nullahs, saying:
"If you do not tell us where the blacks are gone, we
shall kill you."
Then spoke the old dog, saying only: "Gone to the borah."
And as he spoke every one of the Gooeeays and everything they
had with them was turned to stone. Even the waywahs round their
waists, the top-knots on their heads, and the spears in their
hands, even these turned to stone. And when the blacks returned
to their camp long afterwards, when the borah was over, and the
boys, who had been made young men, gone out into the bush to
undergo their novitiate, each with his solitary guardian, then
saw the blacks, their enemies, the Gooeeays, standing round their
old camp, as if to attack it. But instead of being men of flesh,
they were men of stone-they, their weapons, their waywahs, and
all that belonged to them, stone.
And at that place are to be found stones or mayamahs of great
beauty, striped and marked and coloured as were the men painted.
And the place of the mayamah is on one of the mounts near
THE mother Bunbundoolooey put her child, a little boy Bunbundoolooey,
who could only just crawl, into her goolay. Goolay is a sort
of small netted hammock, slung by black women on their backs,
in which they carry their babies and goods in general. Bunbundoolooey,
the pigeon, put her goolay across her back, and started out hunting.
When she had gone some distance she came to a clump of bunnia
or wattle trees. At the foot of one of these she saw some large
euloomarah or grubs, which were good to cat. She picked some
up, and dug with her yam stick round the roots of the tree to
get more. She went from tree to tree, getting grubs at every
one. That she might gather them all, she put down her goolay,
and hunted further round.
Soon in the excitement of her search, she forgot the goolay
with the child in it, and wandered away. Further and further
she went from the Dunnia clump, never once thinking of her poor
birrahlee, or baby. On and still on she went, until at length
she reached a far country.
The birrablee woke up, and crawled out of the goolay. First
he only crawled about, but soon he grew stronger, and raised
himself, and stood by a tree. Then day by day he grew stronger
and walked alone, and stronger still he grew, and could run.
Then he grew on into a big boy, and then into a man, and his
mother he never saw while he was growing from birrahlee to man.
But in the far country at length one day Bunbundoolooey, the
mother, remembered the birrablee she had left.
"Oh," she cried, "I forgot my birrahlee. I
left my birrablee where the Dunnias grow in a far country. I
must go to my birrahlee. My poor birrahlee! I forgot it. Mad
must I have been when I forgot him. My birrahlee! My birrahlee!"
And away went the mother as fast as she could travel back
to the Dunnia clump in the far country. When she reached the
spot she saw the tracks of her birrablee, first crawling, then
standing, then walking, and then running. Bigger and bigger were
the tracks she followed, until she saw they were the tracks of
a man. She followed them until she reached a camp. No one was
in the camp, but a fire was there, so she waited, and while waiting
looked round. She saw her son had made himself many weapons,
and many opossum rugs, which he had painted gaily inside.
Then at last she saw a man coming towards the camp, and she
knew he was her birrahlee, grown into a man. As he drew near
she ran out to meet him, saying:
"Bunbundoolooey, I am your mother. The mother who forgot
you as a birrahlee, and left you. But now I have come to find
you, my son. Long was the journey, my son, and your mother was
weary, but now that she sees once more her birrahlee, who has
grown into a man, she is no longer weary, but glad is her heart,
and loud could she sing in her joy. Ah, Bunbundoolooey, my son!
Bunbundoolooey, my son!"
And she ran forward with her arms out, as if to embrace him.
But stern was the face of Bunbundoolooey, the son, and no
answer did he make with his tongue. But he stooped to the ground
and picked therefrom a big stone. This swiftly he threw at his
mother, hitting her with such force that she fell dead to the
Then on strode Bunbundoolooey to his camp.
Oongnairwah and Guinarey
OONGNAIRWAH, the diver, and Guinarey, the eagle hawk, told
all the pelicans, black swans, cranes, and many others, that
they would take their net to the creek and catch fish, if some
of them would go and beat the fish down towards the net.
Gladly went the pelicans, black swans, and the rest to the
creek. In they jumped, and splashed the water about to scare
the fish down towards where Oongnairwah and Guinarey were stationed
with their net. Presently little Deereeree, the wagtail, and
Burreenjin, the peewee, who were on the bank sitting on a stump,
called out, "Look out, we saw the back of an alligator in
the water." The diver and eagle hawk called back, "Go
away, then. The wind blows from you towards him. Go back or he
will smell you."
But Deereeree and Burreenjin were watching the fishing and
did not heed what was said to them. Soon the alligator smelt
them, and he lashed out with his tail, splashing the water so
high, and lashing so furiously, that all the fishermen were drowned,
even Deereeree and Burreenjin on the bank-not one escaped, And
red was the bank of the creek, and red the stump whereon Deereeree
and Burreenjin had sat, with the blood of the slain. And the
place is called Goomade and is red for ever.
Narahdarn the Bat
NARAHDARN, the bat, wanted honey. He watched until he saw
a Wurranunnah, or bee, alight. He caught it, stuck a white feather
between its hind legs, let it go and followed it. He knew he
could see the white feather, and so follow the bee to its nest.
He ordered his two wives, of the Bilber tribe, to follow him
with wirrees to carry home the honey in. Night came on and Wurranunnah
the bee had not reached home. Narahdarn caught him, imprisoned
him under bark, and kept him safely there until next morning.
When it was light enough to see, Narahdarn let the bee go again,
and followed him to his nest, in a gunnyanny tree. Marking the
tree with his comebo that he might know it again, he returned
to hurry on his wives who were some way behind. He wanted them
to come on, climb the tree, and chop out the honey. When they
reached the marked tree one of the women climbed up. She called
out to Narahdarn that the honey was in a split in the tree. He
called back to her to put her hand in and get it out. She put
her arm in, but found she could not get it out again. Narahdarn
climbed up to help her, but found when he reached her that the
only way to free her was to cut off her arm. This he did before
she had time to realise what he was going to do, and protest.
So great was the shock to her that she died instantly. Narahdarn
carried down her lifeless body and commanded her sister, his
other wife, to go up, chop out the arm, and get the honey. She
protested, declaring the bees would have taken the honey away
"Not so," he said; "go at once."
Every excuse she could think of, to save herself, she made.
But her excuses were in vain, and Narahdarn only became furious
with her for making them, and, brandishing his boondi, drove
her up the tree. She managed to get her arm in beside her sister's,
but there it stuck and she could not move it. Narahdarn, who
was watching her, saw what had happened and followed her up the
tree. Finding he could not pull her arm out, in spite of her
cries, he chopped it off, as he had done her sister's. After
one shriek, as he drove his comebo through her arm, she was silent.
He said, "Come down, and I will chop out the bees' nest."
But she did not answer him, and he saw that she too was dead.
Then he was frightened, and climbed quickly down the gunnyanny
tree; taking her body to the ground with him, he laid it beside
her sister's, and quickly he hurried from the spot, taking no
further thought of the honey. As he neared his camp, two little
sisters of his wives ran out to meet him, thinking their sisters
would be with him, and that they would give them a taste of the
honey they knew they had gone out to get. But to their surprise
Narahdarn came alone, and as he drew near to them they saw his
arms were covered with blood. And his face had a fierce look
on it, which frightened them from even asking where their sisters
were. They ran and told their mother that Narahdarn had returned
alone, that he looked fierce and angry, also his arms were covered
with blood. Out went the mother of the Bilbers, and she said,
"Where are my daughters, Narahdarn? Forth went they this
morning to bring home the honey you found. You come back alone.
You bring no honey. Your look is fierce, as of one who fights,
and your arms are covered with blood. Tell me, I say, where are
"Ask me not, Bilber. Ask Wurranunnah the bee, he may
know. Narahdarn the bat knows nothing." And he wrapped himself
in a silence which no questioning could pierce. Leaving him there,
before his camp, the mother of the Bilbers returned to her dardurr
and told her tribe that her daughters were gone, and Narahdarn,
their husband, would tell her nothing of them. But she felt sure
he knew their fate, and certain she was that he had some tale
to tell, for his arms were covered with blood.
The chief of her tribe listened to her. When she had finished
and begun to wail for her daughters, whom she thought she would
see no more, he said, "Mother of the Bilbers, your daughters
shall be avenged if aught has happened to them at the hands of
Narahdarn. Fresh are his tracks, and the young men of your tribe
shall follow whence they have come, and finding what Narahdarn
has done, swiftly shall they return. Then shall we hold a corrobboree,
and if your daughters fell at his hand Narahdarn shall be punished."
The mother of the Bilbers said: "Well have you spoken,
oh my relation. Now speed ye the young men lest the rain fall
or the dust blow and the tracks be lost." Then forth went
the fleetest footed and the keenest eyed of the young men of
the tribe. Ere long, back they came to the camp with the news
of the fate of the Bilbers.
That night was the corrobboree held. The women sat round in
a half-circle, and chanted a monotonous chant, keeping time by
hitting, some of them, two boomerangs together, and others beating
their rolled up opossum rugs.
Big fires were lit on the edge of the scrub, throwing light
on the dancers as they came dancing out from their camps, painted
in all manner of designs, waywahs round their waists, tufts of
feathers in their hair, and carrying in their hands painted wands.
Heading the procession as the men filed out from the scrub into
a cleared space in front of the women, came Narahdarn. The light
of the fires lit up the tree tops, the dark balahs showed out
in fantastic shapes, and weird indeed was the scene as slowly
the men danced round; louder clicked the boomerangs and louder
grew the chanting of the women; higher were the fires piled,
until the flames shot their coloured tongues round the trunks
of the trees and high into the air. One fire was bigger than
all, and towards it the dancers edged Narahdarn; then the voice
of the mother of the Bilbers shrieked in the chanting, high above
that of the other women. As Narahdarn turned from the fire to
dance back he found a wall of men confronting him. These quickly
seized him and hurled him into the madly-leaping fire before
him, where he perished in the flames. And so were the Bilbers
Mullyangah the Morning Star
MULLYAN, the eagle hawk, built himself a home high in a yaraan
tree. There he lived apart from his tribe, with Moodai the opossum,
his wife, and Moodai the opossum, his mother-in-law. With them
too was Buttergah, a daughter of the Buggoo or flying squirrel
tribe. Buttergah was a friend of Moodai, the wife of Mullyan,
and a distant cousin to the Moodai tribe.
Mullyan the eagle hawk was a cannibal. That was the reason
of his living apart from the other blacks. In order to satisfy
his cannibal cravings, he used to sally forth with a big spear,
a spear about four times as big as an ordinary spear. If he found
a black fellow hunting alone, he would kill him and take his
body up to the house in the tree. There the Moodai and Buttergab
would cook it, and all of them would eat the flesh; for the women
as well as Mullyan were cannibals. This went on for some time,
until at last so many black fellows were slain that their friends
determined to find out what became of them, and they tracked
the last one they missed. They tracked him to where he had evidently
been slain; they took up the tracks of his slayer, and followed
them right to the foot of the yaraan tree, in which was built
the home of Mullyan. They tried to climb the tree, but it was
high and straight, and they gave up the attempt after many efforts.
In their despair at their failure they thought of the Bibbees,
a tribe noted for its climbing powers. They summoned two young
Bibbees to their aid. One came, bringing with him his friend
Murrawondah of the climbing rat tribe.
Having heard what the blacks wanted them to do, these famous
climbers went to the yaraan tree and made a start at once. There
was only light enough that first night for them to see to reach
a fork in the tree about half-way up. There they camped, watched
Mullyan away in the morning, and then climbed on. At last they
reached the home of Mullyan. They watched their chance and then
sneaked into his humpy.
When they were safely inside, they hastened to secrete a smouldering
stick in one end of the humpy, taking care they were not seen
by any of the women. Then they went quietly down again, no one
the wiser of their coming or going. During the day the women
heard sometimes a crackling noise, as of burning, but looking
round they saw nothing, and as their own fire was safe, they
took no notice, thinking it might have been caused by some grass
having fallen into their fire.
After their descent from having hidden the smouldering fire
stick, Bibbee and Murrawondah found the blacks and told them
what they had done. Hearing that the plan was to burn out Mullyan,
and fearing that the tree might fall, they all moved to some
little distance, there to watch and wait for the end. Great was
their joy at the thought that at last their enemy was circumvented.
And proud were Bibbee and Murrawondah as the black fellows praised
After dinner-time Mullyan came back. When he reached the entrance
to his house he put down his big spear outside. Then he went
in and threw himself down to rest, for long had he walked and
little had he gained. In a few minutes he heard his big spear
fall down. He jumped up and stuck it in its place again. He had
no sooner thrown himself down, than again he heard it fall. Once
more be rose and replaced it. As he reached his resting-place
again, out burst a flame of fire from the end of his humpy. He
called out to the three women, who were cooking, and they rushed
to help him extinguish the flames. But in spite of their efforts
the fire only blazed the brighter. Mullyan's arm was burnt off.
The Moodai had their feet burnt, and Buttergah was badly burnt
too. Seeing they were helpless against the fire, they turned
to leave the humpy to its fate, and make good their own escape.
But they had left it too late. As they turned to descend the
tree, the roof of the humpy fell on them. And all that remained
when the fire ceased, were the charred bones of the dwellers
in the yaraan tree. That was all that the blacks found of their
enemies; but their legend says that Mullyan the eagle hawk lives
in the sky as Mullyangah the morning star, on one side of which
is a little star, which is his one arm; on the other a larger
star, which is Moodai the opossum, his wife.
Goomblegubbon, Beeargah, and Ouyan
GOOMBLEGUBBON the bustard, his two wives, Beeargah the hawk,
and Ouyan the curlew, with the two children of Beeargah, had
their camps right away in the bush; their only water supply was
a small dungle, or gilguy hole. The wives and children camped
in one camp, and Goomblegubbon a short distance off in another.
One day the wives asked their husband to lend them the dayoorl
stone, that they might grind some doonburr to make durrie. But
he would not lend it to them, though they asked him several times.
They knew he did not want to use it himself, for they saw his
durrie on a piece of bark, between two fires, already cooking.
They determined to be revenged, so said:
"We will make some water bags of the opossum skins; we
will fill them with water, then some day when Goomblegubbon is
out hunting we will empty the dungle of water, take the children,
and run away! When he returns he will find his wives and children
gone and the dungle empty; then he will be sorry that he would
not lend us the dayoorl."
"The wives soon caught some opossums, killed and skinned
them, plucked all the hair from the skins, saving it to roll
into string to make goomillahs, cleaned the skins of all flesh,
sewed them up with the sinews, leaving only the neck opening.
When finished, they blew into them, filled them with air, tied
them up and left them to dry for a few days. When they were dry
and ready to be used, they chose a day when Goomblegubbon was
away, filled the water bags, emptied the dungle, and started
towards the river.
Having travelled for some time, they at length reached the
river. They saw two black fellows on the other side, who, when
they saw the runaway wives and the two children, swam over to
them and asked whence they had come and whither they were going.
"We are running away from our husband Goomblegubbon,
who would lend us no dayoorl to grind our doonburr on, and we
ran away lest we and our children should starve, for we could
not live on meat alone. But whither we are going we know not,
except that it must be far away, lest Goomblegubbon follow and
The black fellows said they wanted wives, and would each take
one, and both care for the children. The women agreed. The black
fellows swam back across the river, each taking a child first,
and then a woman, for as they came from the back country, where
no creeks were, the women could not swim.
Goomblegubbon came back from hunting, and, seeing no wives,
called aloud for them, but heard no answer. Then he went to their
camp, and found them not. Then turning towards the dungle he
saw that it was empty. Then he saw the tracks of his wives and
children going towards the river. Great was his anger, and vowing
he would kill them when he found them, he picked up his spears
and followed their tracks, until he too reached the river. There
on the other side he saw a camp, and in it he could see strange
black fellows, his wives, and his children. He called aloud for
them to cross him over, for he too could not swim. But the sun
went down and still they did not answer. He camped where he was
that night, and in the morning he saw the camp opposite had been
deserted and set fire to; the country all round was burnt so
that not even the tracks of the black fellows and his wives could
be found, even had he been able to cross the river. And never
again did he see or hear of his wives or his children.
Mooregoo the Mopoke, and Bahloo the Moon
MOOREGOO the Mopoke had been camped away by himself for a
long time. While alone he had made a great number of boomerangs,
nullah-nullahs, spears, neilahmans, and opossum rugs. Well had
he carved the weapons with the teeth of opossums, and brightly
had he painted the inside of the rugs with coloured designs,
and strongly had he sewn them with the sinews of opossums, threaded
in the needle made of the little bone taken from the leg of an
emu. As Mooregoo looked at his work he was proud of all he had
One night Babloo the moon came to his camp, and said: "Lend
me one of your opossum rugs."
"No. I lend not my rugs."
"Then give me one."
"No. I give not my rugs."
Looking round, Bahloo saw the beautifully carved weapons,
so he said, "Then give me, Mooregoo, some of your weapons."
"No, I give, never, what I have made, to another."
Again Bahloo said, "The night is cold. Lend me a rug.
"I have spoken," said Mooregoo. " I never lend
Barloo said no more, but went away, cut some bark and made
a dardurr for himself. When it was finished and he safely housed
in it, down came the rain in torrents. And it rained without
ceasing until the whole country was flooded. Mooregoo was drowned.
His weapons floated about and drifted apart, and his rugs rotted
in the water.
Ouyan the Curlew
BLEARGAH the hawk, mother of Ouyan the curlew, said one day
to her son: "Go, Ouyan, out, take your spears and kill an
emu. The women and I are hungry. You are a man, go out and kill,
that we may eat. You must not stay always in the camp like an
old woman; you must go and hunt as other men do, lest the women
laugh at you."
Ouyan took his spears and went out hunting, but though he
went far, he could not get an emu, yet he dare not return to
the camp and face the jeers of the women. Well could they jeer,
and angry could his mother grow when she was hungry. Sooner than
return empty-handed he would cut some flesh off his own legs.
And this he decided to do. he made a cut in his leg with his
comebo and as he made it, cried aloud: "Yuckay! Yuckay,"
in pain. But he cut on, saying: "Sharper would cut the tongues
of the women, and deeper would be the wounds they would make,
if I returned without food for them." And crying: "Yuckay,
yuckay," at each stroke of his comebo, he at length cut
off a piece of flesh, and started towards the camp with it.
As he neared the camp his mother cried out: "What have
you brought us, Ouyan? We starve for meat, come quickly."
He came and laid the flesh at her feet, saying: "Far
did I go, and little did I see, but there is enough for all to-night;
to-morrow will I go forth again."
The women cooked the flesh, and ate it hungrily. Afterwards
they felt quite ill, but thought it must be because they had
eaten too hungrily. The next day they hurried Ouyan forth again.
And again he returned bringing his own flesh back. Again the
women ate hungrily of it, and again they felt quite ill.
Then, too, Beeargah noticed for the first time that the flesh
Ouyan brought looked different from emu flesh. She asked him
what flesh it was. He replied: "What should it be but the
flesh of emu?"
But Beeargah was not satisfied, and she said to the two women
who lived with her: "Go you, to-morrow, follow Ouyan, and
see whence he gets this flesh."
The next day, the two woman followed Ouyan when he went forth
to hunt. They followed at a good distance, that he might not
notice that they were following. Soon they heard him crying as
if in pain: " Yuckay, yuckay, yuckay nurroo gay gay."
When they came near they saw he was cutting the flesh off his
own limbs. Before he discovered that they were watching him,
back they went to the old woman, and told her what they had seen.
Soon Ouyan came back, bringing, as usual, the flesh with him.
When he had thrown it down at his mother's feet, he went away,
and lay down as if tired from the chase. His mother went up to
him, and before he had time to cover his mutilated limbs, she
saw that indeed the story of the women was true. Angry was she
that he had so deceived her: and she called loudly for the other
two women, who came running to her.
"You are right," she said. "Too lazy to hunt
for emu, he cut off his own flesh, not caring that when we unwittingly
ate thereof we should sicken. Let us beat him who did us this
The three women seized poor Ouyan and beat him, though he
cried aloud in agony when the blows fell on his bleeding legs.
When the women had satisfied their vengeance, Beeargah said:
"You Ouyan shall have no more flesh on your legs, and red
shall they be for ever; red, and long and fleshless." Saying
which she went, and with her the other women. Ouyan crawled away
and hid himself, and never again did his mother see him. But
night after night was to be heard a wailing cry of, "Bou
you gwai gwai. Bou you gwai gwai," which meant, "My
poor red legs. My poor red legs."
But though Ouyan the man was never seen again, a bird with
long thin legs, very red in colour under the feathers, was seen
often, and heard to cry ever at night, even as Ouyan the man
had cried: "Bou you gwai gwai. Bou you gwai gwai."
And this bird bears always the name of Ouyan.
Dinewan the Emu, and Wahn the Crows
DINEWAN and his two wives, the Wahn, were camping out. Seeing
some clouds gathering, they made a bark humpy. It came on to
rain, and they all took shelter under it. Dinewan, when his wives
were not looking, gave a kick against a piece of bark at one
side of the humpy, knocked it down, then told his wives to go
and put it up again. When they were outside putting it up, he
gave a kick, and knocked down a piece on the other side; so no
sooner were they in again than out they had to go. This he did
time after time, until at last they su spected him, and decided
that one of them would watch. The one who was watching saw Dinewan
laugh to himself and go and knock down the bark they had just
put up, chuckling at the thought of his wives having to go out
in the wet and cold to put it up, while he had his supper dry
and comfortably inside. The one who saw him told the other, and
they decided to teach him a lesson. So in they came, each with
a piece of bark filled with hot coals. They went straight up
to Dinewan, who was lying down laughing.
"Now," they said, "you shall feel as hot we
did cold." And thev threw the coals over him. Dinewan jumped
up. crying aloud with the pain, for he was badly burnt. He rolled
himself over, and ran into the rain; and his wives stayed inside,
and laughed aloud at him.
Goolahwilleel the Topknot Pigeons
YOUNG GOOLAHWILLEEEL used to go out hunting every day. His
mother and sisters always expected that he would bring home kangaroo
and emu for them. But each day he came home without any meat
at all. They asked him what he did in the bush, as he evidently
did not hunt. He said that he did hunt.
"Then why," said they, "do you bring us nothing
"I cannot catch and kill what I follow," he said.
"You hear me cry out when I find kangaroo or emu; is it
"Yes; each day we hear you call when you find something,
and each day we get ready the fire, expecting you to bring home
the spoils of the chase, but you bring nothing."
"To-morrow," he said, "you shall not be disappointed.
I will bring you a kangaroo."
Every day, instead of hunting, Goolahwilleel had been gathering
wattle-gum, and with this he had been modelling a kangaroo-a
perfect model of one, tail, ears, and all complete. So the next
day he came towards the camp carrying this kangaroo made of gum.
Seeing him coming, and also seeing that he was carrying the promised
kangaroo, his mother and sisters said: "Ah, Goolahwilleel
spoke truly. He has kept his word, and now brings us a kangaroo.
Pile up the fire. To-night we shall eat meat."
About a hundred yards away from the camp Goolahwilleel put
down his model, and came on without it. His mother called out:
"Where is the kangaroo you brought home?
"Oh, over there." And he pointed towards where he
had left it.
The sisters ran to get it, but came back saying: "Where
is it? We cannot see it."
"Over there," he said, pointing again.
"But there is only a great figure of gum there."
"Well, did I say it was anything else? Did I not say
it was gum?"
"No, you did not. You said it was a kangaroo."
"And so it is a kangaroo. A beautiful kangaroo that I
made all by myself." And he smiled quite proudly to think
what a fine kangaroo he had made.
But his mother and sisters did not smile. They seized him
and gave him a good beating for deceiving them. They told him
he should never go out alone again, for he only played instead
of hunting, though he knew they starved for meat. They would
always in the future go with him.
And so for ever the Goolahwilleels went in flocks, never more
singly, in search of food.
Goonur, the Woman-Doctor
GOONUR was a clever old woman-doctor, who lived with her son,
Goonur, and his two wives. The wives were Guddah the red lizard,
and Beereeun the small, prickly lizard. One day the two wives
had done something to anger Goonur, their husband, and he gave
them both a great beating. After their beating they went away
by themselves. They said to each other that they could stand
their present life no longer, and yet there was no escape unless
they killed their husband. They decided they would do that. But
how? That was the question. It must be by cunning.
At last they decided on a plan. They dug a big hole in the
sand near the creek, filled it with water, and covered the hole
over with boughs, leaves, and grass.
"Now we will go," they said, "and tell our
husband that we have found a big bandicoot's nest."
Back they went to the camp, and told Goonur that they had
seen a big nest of bandicoots near the creek; that if he sneaked
up he would be able to suprise them and get the lot.
Off went Goonur in great haste. He sneaked up to witbin a
couple of feet of the nest, then gave a spring on to the top
of it. And only when he felt the bough top give in with him,
and he sank down into water, did he realise that he had been
tricked. Too late then to save himself, for he was drowning and
could not escape. His wives had watched the success of their
stratagem from a distance. When they were certain that they had
effectually disposed of their hated husband, they went back to
the camp. Goonur, the mother, soon missed her son, made inquiries
of his wives, but gained no information from them. Two or three
days passed, and yet Goonur, the son, returned not. Seriously
alarmed at his long absence without having given her notice of
his intention, the mother determined to follow his track. She
took up his trail where she had last seen him leave the camp.
This she followed until she reached the so-called bandicoot's
nest. Here his tracks disappeared, and nowhere could she find
a sign of his having returned from this place. She felt in the
hole with her yarn stick, and soon felt that there was something
large there in the water. She cut a forked stick and tried to
raise the body and get it out, for she felt sure it must be her
son. But she could not raise it; stick after stick broke in the
effort. At last she cut a midjee stick and tried with that, and
then she was successful. When she brought out the body she found
it was indeed her son. She dragged the body to an ant bed, and
watched intently to see if the stings of the ants brought any
sign of returning life. Soon her hope was realised, and after
a violent twitching of the muscles her son regained consciousness.
As soon as he was able to do so, he told her of the trick his
wives had played on him.
Goonur, the mother, was furious. "No more shall they
have you as husband. You shall live hidden in my dardurr. When
we get near the camp you can get into this long, big comebee,
and I will take you in. When you want to go hunting I will take
you from the camp in this comebee, and when we are out of sight
you can get out and hunt as of old."
And thus they managed for some time to keep his return a secret;
and little the wives knew that their husband was alive and in
his mother's camp. But as day after day Goonur, the mother, returned
from hunting loaded with spoils, they began to think she must
have help from some one; for surely, they said, no old woman
could be so successful in hunting. There was a mystery they were
sure, and they were determined to find it out.
"See," they said, "she goes out alone. She
is old, and yet she brings home more than we two do together,
and we are young. To-day she brought opossums, piggiebillahs,
honey yams, quatha, and many things. We got little, yet we went
far. We will watch her."
The next time old Goonur went out, carrying her big comebee,
the wives watched her.
"Look," they said, " how slowly she goes. She
could not climb trees for opossums-she is too old and weak; look
how she staggers."
They went cautiously after her, and saw when she was some
distance from the camp that she put down her comebee. And out
of it, to their amazement, stepped Goonur, their husband.
"Ah," they said, "this is her secret. She must
have found him, and, as she is a great doctor, she was able to
bring him to life again. We must wait until she leaves him, and
then go to him, and beg to know where he has been, and pretend
joy that he is back, or else surely now he is alive again he
will sometime kill us."
Accordingly, when Goonur was alone the two wives ran to him,
"Why, Goonur, our husband, did you leave us? Where have
you been all the time that we, your wives, have mourned for you?
Long has the time been without you, and we, your wives, have
been sad that you came no more to our dardurr."
Goonur, the husband, affected to believe their sorrow was
genuine, and that they did not know when they directed him to
the bandicoot's nest that it was a trap. Which trap, but for
his mother, might have been his grave.
They all went hunting together, and when they had killed enough
for food they returned to the camp. As they came near to the
camp, Goonur, the mother, saw them coming, and cried out:
"Would you again be tricked by your wives? Did I save
you from death only that you might again be killed? I spared
them, but I would I had slain them, if again they are to have
a chance of killing you, my son. Many are the wiles of women,
and another time I might not be able to save you. Let them live
if you will it so, my son, but not with you. They tried to lure
you to death; you are no longer theirs, mine only now, for did
I not bring you back from the dead? "
But Goonur the husband said, "In truth did you save me,
my mother, and these my wives rejoice that you did. They too,
as I was, were deceived by the bandicoot's nest, the work of
an enemy yet to be found. See, my mother, do not the looks of
love in their eyes, and words of love on their lips vouch for
their truth? We will be as we have been, my mother, and live
again in peace."
And thus craftily did Goonur the husband deceive his wives
and make them believe he trusted them wholly, while in reality
his mind was even then plotting vengeance. In a few days he had
his plans ready. Having cut and pointed sharply two stakes, he
stuck them firmly in the creek, then he placed two logs on the
bank, in front of the sticks, which were underneath the water,
and invisible. Having made his preparations, he invited his wives
to come for a bathe. He said when they reached the creek:
"See those two logs on the bank, you jump in each from
one and see which can dive the furthest. I will go first to see
you as you come up." And in he jumped, carefully avoiding
the pointed stakes. "Right," he called. "All is
clear here, jump in."
Then the two wives ran down the bank each to a log and jumped
from it. Well had Goonur calculated the distance, for both jumped
right on to the stakes placed in the water to catch them, and
which stuck firmly into them, holding them under the water.
"Well am I avenged," said Goonur. " No more
will my wives lay traps to catch me." And he walked off
to the camp.
His mother asked him where his wives were. "They left
me," he said, "to get bees' nests."
But as day by day passed and the wives returned not, the old
woman began to suspect that her son knew more than he said. She
asked him no more, but quietly watched her opportunity, when
her son was away hunting, and then followed the tracks of the
wives. She tracked them to the creek, and as she saw no tracks
of their return, she went into the creek, felt about, and there
found the two bodies fast on the stakes. She managed to get them
off and out of the creek, then she determined to try and restore
them to life, for she was angry that her son had not told her
what he had done, but had deceived her as well as his wives.
She rubbed the women with some of her medicines, dressed the
wounds made by the stakes, and then dragged them both on to ants'
nests and watched their bodies as the ants crawled over them,
biting them. She had not long to wait; soon they began to move
and come to life again.
As soon as they were restored Goonur took them back to the
camp and said to Goonur her son, "Now once did I use my
knowledge to restore life to you, and again have I used it to
restore life to your wives. You are all mine now, and I desire
that you live in peace and never more deceive me, or never again
shall I use my skill for you:"
And they lived for a long while together, and when the Mother
Doctor died there was a beautiful, dazzlingly bright falling
star, followed by a sound as of a sharp clap of thunder, and
all the tribes round when they saw and heard this said, "A
great doctor must have died, for that is the sign." And
when the wives died, they were taken up to the sky, where they
are now known as Gwaibillah, the red star, so called from its
bright red colour, owing, the legend says, to the red marks left
by the stakes on the bodies of the two women, and which nothing
Deereeree the Wagtail, and the Rainbow
DEEREEREE was a widow and lived in a camp alone with her four
little girls. One day Bibbee came and made a camp not far from
hers. Deereeree was frightened of him, too frightened to go to
sleep. All night she used to watch his camp, and if she heard
a sound she would cry aloud: "Deerceree, wyah, wyah, Deereeree,"
Sometimes she would be calling out nearly all night.
In the morning, Bibbee would come over to her camp and ask
her what was the matter that she had called out so in the night.
She told him that she thought she heard some one walking about
and was afraid, for she was alone with her four little girls.
He told her she ought not to be afraid with all her children
round her. But night after night she sat up crying: "Wyah,
wyah, Deereeree, Deereeree."
At last Bibbee said! "If you are so frightened, marry
me and live in my camp. I will take care of you." But Deereeree
said she did not want to marry. So night after night was to be
heard her plaintive cry of "Wyah, wyah, Deereeree, Deereeree."
And again and again Bibbee pressed her to share his camp and
marry him. But she always refused. The more she refused the more
he wished to marry her. And he used to wonder how he could induce
her to change her mind.
At last he thought of a plan of surprising her into giving
her consent. He set to work and made a beautiful and many coloured
arch, which, when it was made, he called Euloowirree, and he
placed it right across the sky, reaching from one side of the
earth to the other. When the rainbow was firmly placed in the
sky, and showing out in all its brilliancy, of many colours,
as a roadway from the earth to the stars, Bibbee went into his
camp to wait. When Deereeree looked up at the sky and saw the
wonderful rainbow, she thought something dreadful must be going
to happen. She was terribly frightened, and called aloud: "Wyah,
wyah." In her fear she gathered her children together, and
fled with them to Bibbee's camp for protection.
Bibbee proudly told her that he had made the rainbow, just
to show how strong he was and how safe she would be if she married
him. But if she would not, she would see what terrible things
he would make to come on the earth, not just a harmless and beautiful
roadway across the heavens, but things that would burst from
the earth and destroy it.
So by working on her mixed feelings of fear of his prowess,
and admiration of his skill, Bibbee gained his desire, and Deereeree
married him. And when long afterwards they died, Deereeree was
changed into the little willy wagtail who may be heard through
the stillness of the summer nights, crying her plaintive wail
of "Deereeree, wyah, wyah, Deereeree."
And Bibbee was changed into the woodpecker, or climbing tree
bird, who is always running up trees as if he wanted to be building
other ways to the than the famous roadway of his Euloowirree,
the building of which had won him his wife.
Mooregoo the Mopoke, and Mooninguggahgul the Mosquito
AN old man lived with his two wives, the Mooninguggahgul sisters,
and his two sons. The old man spent all his time making boomerangs,
until at last he had four nets full of these weapons. The two
boys used to go out hunting opossums and iguanas, which they
would cook in the bush, and eat, without thinking of bringing
any home to their parents. The old man asked them one day to
bring him home some fat to rub his boomerangs with. This the
boys did, but they brought only the fat, having eaten the rest
of the iguanas from which they had taken the fat. The old man
was very angry that his sons were so greedy, but he said nothing,
though be determined to punish them, for he thought "when
they were young, and could not hunt, I hunted for them and fed
them well; now that they can hunt and I am old and cannot so
well, they give me nothing." Thinking of his treatment at
the hands of his sons, he greased all his boomerangs, and when
he had finished them he said to the boys: "You take these
boomerangs down on to the plain and try them; see if I have made
them well. Then come back and tell me. I will stay here."
The boys took the boomerangs. They threw them one after another;
but to their surprise not one of the boomerangs they threw touched
the ground, but, instead, went whirling up out of sight. When
they had finished throwing the boomerangs, all of which acted
in the same way, whirling up through space, they prepared to
start home again. But as they looked round they saw a huge whirlwind
coming towards them. They were frightened and called out "Wurrawilberoo,"
for they knew there was a devil in the whirlwind. They laid hold
of trees near at hand that it might not catch them. But the whirlwind
spread out first one arm and rooted up one tree, then another
arm, and rooted up another. The boys ran in fear from tree to
tree, but each tree that they went to was torn up by the whirlwind.
At last they ran to two mubboo or beef-wood trees, and clung
tightly to them. After them rushed the whirlwind, sweeping all
before it, and when it reached the mubboo trees, to which the
boys were clinging, it tore them from their roots and bore them
upward swiftly, giving the boys no time to leave go, so they
were borne upward clinging to the mubboo trees. On the whirlwind
bore them until they reached the sky, where it placed the two
trees with the boys still clinging to them. And there they still
are, near the Milky Way, and known as Wurrawilberoo. The boomerangs
are scattered all along the Milky Way, for the whirlwind had
gathered them all together in its rush through space. Having
placed them all in the sky, down came the whirlwind, retaking
its natural shape, which was that of the old man, for so had
he wreaked his vengeance on his sons for neglecting their parents.
As time went on, the mothers wondered why their sons did not
return. It struck them as strange that the old man expressed
no surprise at the absence of the boys, and they suspected that
he knew more than he cared to say. For he only sat in the camp
smiling while his wives discussed what could have happened to
them, and he let the women go out and search alone. The mothers
tracked their sons to the plain. There they saw that a big whirlwind
had lately been, for trees were uprooted and strewn in every
direction. They tracked their sons from tree to tree until at
last they came to the place where the mubboos had stood. They
saw the tracks of their sons beside the places whence the trees
had been uprooted, but of the trees and their sons they saw no
further trace. Then they knew that they had all been borne up
together by the whirlwind, and taken whither they knew not. Sadly
they returned to their camp. When night came they heard cries
which they recognised as made by the voices of their sons, though
they sounded as if coming from the sky. As the cries sounded
again the mothers looked up whence they came, and there they
saw the mubboo trees with their sons beside them. Then well they
knew that they would see no more their sons on earth, and great
was their grief, and wroth were they with their husband, for
well they knew now that he must have been the devil in the whirlwind,
who had so punished the boys. They vowed to avenge the loss of
The next day they went out and gathered a lot of pine gum,
and brought it back to the camp. When they reached the camp the
old man called to one of his wives to come and tease his hair,
as his head ached, and that alone would relieve the pain. One
of the women went over to him, took his head on her lap, and
teased his hair until at last the old man was soothed and sleepy.
In the meantime the other wife was melting the gum. The one with
the old man gave her a secret sign to come near; then she asked
the old man to lie on his back, that she might tease his front
hair better. As he did so, she signed to the other woman, who
quickly came, gave her some of the melted gum, which they both
then poured hot into his eyes, filling them with it. In agony
the old man jumped up and ran about, calling out, "Mooregoo,
mooregoo," as he ran. Out of the camp he ran and far away,
still crying out in his agony, as he went. And never again did
his wives see him though every night they heard his cry of "Mooregoo,
mooregoo." But though they never saw their husband, they
saw a night hawk, the Mopoke, and as that cried always, "Mooregoo,
moregoo," as their husband had cried in his agony, they
knew that he must have turned into the bird.
After a time the women were changed into Mooninguggahgul,
or mosquito birds. These birds arc marked on the wings just like
a mosquito, and every summer night you can hear them cry out
incessantly, "Mooninguggahgul," which cry is the call
for the mosquitoes to answer by coming out and buzzing in chorus.
And as quickly the mosquitoes come out in answer to the summons,
the Mooninguggahgul bid them fly everywhere and bite all they
Bougoodoogahdah the Rain Bird
BOUGOODOOGAHDAH was all old woman who lived alone with her
four hundred dingoes. From living so long with these dogs she
had grown not to care for her fellow creatures except as food.
She and the dogs lived on human flesh, and it was her cunning
which gained such food for them all. She would sally forth from
her camp with her two little dogs; she would be sure to meet
some black fellows, probably twenty or thirty, going down to
the creek. She would say, "I can tell you where there are
lots of paddy melons." They would ask where, and she would
answer, "Over there, on the point of that moorillah or ridge.
If you will go there and have your nullahs ready, I will go with
my two dogs and round them up towards you."
The black fellows invariably stationed themselves where she
had told them, and off went Bougoodoogahdah and her two dogs.
But not to round up the paddy melons. She went quickly towards
her camp, calling softly, "Birree, gougou," which meant
"Sool 'em, sool 'em," and was the signal for the dogs
to come out. Quickly they came and surrounded the black fellows,
took them by surprise, flew at them, bit and worried them to
death. Then they and Bougoodoogahdah dragged the bodies to their
camp. There they were cooked and were food for the old woman
and the dogs for some time. As soon as the supply was finished
the same plan to obtain more was repeated.
The black fellows missed so many of their friends that they
determined to find out what had become of them. They began to
suspect the old woman who lived alone and hunted over the moorillahs
with her two little dogs. They proposed that the next party that
went to the creek should divide and some stay behind in hiding
and watch what went on. Those watching saw the old woman advance
towards their friends, talk to them for a while, and then go
off with her two dogs. They saw their friends station themselves
at the point of the moorillah or ridge, holding their nullahs
in readiness, as if waiting for something to come. Presently
they heard a low cry from the old woman of "Birree gougou,"
which cry was quickly followed by dingoes coming out of the bush
in every direction, in hundreds, surrounding the black fellows
at the point.
The dingoes closed in, quickly hemming the black fellows in
all round; then they made a simultaneous rush at them, tore them
with their teeth, and killed them.
The black fellows watching, saw that when the dogs had killed
their friends they were joined by the old woman, who helped them
to drag off the bodies to their camp.
Having seen all this, back went the watchers to their tribe
and. told what they had seen. All the tribes round mustered up
and decided to execute a swift vengeance. In order to do so,
out they sallied well armed. A detachment went on to entrap the
dogs and Bougoodoogahdah. Then just when the usual massacre of
the blacks was to begin and the dogs were closing in round them
for the purpose, out rushed over two hundred black fellows, and
so effectual was their attack that every dog was killed, as well
as Bougoodoogahdah and her two little dogs.
The old woman lay where she had been slain, but as the blacks
went away they heard her cry "Bougoodoogahdah." So
back they went and broke her bones, first they broke her legs
and then left her. But again as they went they heard her cry
"Bougoodoogahdah." Then back again they came, and again,
until at last every bone in her body was broken, but still she
cried "Bougoodoogahdah." So one man waited beside her
to see whence came the sound, for surely, they thought, she must
be dead. He saw her heart move and cry again "Bougoodoogahdah"
and as it cried, out came a little bird from it. This little
bird runs on the moorillahs and calls at night "Bougoodoogahdah."
All day it stays in one place, and only at night comes out. It
is a little greyish bird, something like a weedah. The blacks
call it a rain-maker, for if any one steals its eggs it cries
out incessantly "Bougoodoogahdah" until in answer to
its call the rain falls. And when the country is stricken with
a drought, the blacks loook for one of these little birds, and
finding it, chase it, until it cries aloud "Bougoodoogahdah,
Bougoodoogahdah" and when they hear its cry in the daytime
they know the rain will soon fall.
As the little bird flew from the heart of the woman, all the
dead dingoes were changed into snakes, many different kinds,
all poisonous. The two little dogs were changed into dayall minyah,
a very small kind of carpet snake, non-poisonous, for these two
little dogs had never bitten the blacks as the other dogs had
done. At the points of the Moorillahs where Bougoodoogahdah and
her dingoes used to slay the blacks, are heaps of white stones,
which are supposed to be the fossilised bones of the massacred
The Borah of Byamee
WORD had been passed from tribe to tribe, telling, how that
the season was good, there must be a great gathering of the tribes.
And the place fixed for the gathering was Googoorewon. The old
men whispered that it should be the occasion for a borah, but
this the women must not know. Old Byamee, who was a great Wirreenun,
said he would take his two sons, Ghindahindahmoee and Boomahoomahnowee,
to the gathering of the tribes, for the time had come when they
should be made young men, that they might be free to marry wives,
eat emu flesh, and learn to be warriors.
As tribe after tribe arrived at Googoorewon, each took up
a position at one of the various points of the ridges, surrounding
the clear open space where the corrobborees were to be. The Wähn,
crows, had one point; the Dummerh, pigeons, another; the Mahthi,
dogs, another, and so on; Byamee and his tribe, Byahmul the black
swans tribe, Oooboon, the blue tongued lizard, and many other
chiefs and their tribes, each had their camp on a different point.
When all had arrived there were hundreds and hundreds assembled,
and many and varied were the nightly corrobborees, each tribe
trying to excel the other in the fancifulness of their painted
get-up, and the novelty of their newest song and dance. By day
there was much hunting and feasting, by night much dancing and
singing; pledges of friendship exchanged, a dillibag for a boomerang,
and so on; young daughters given to old warriors, old women given
to young men, unborn girls promised to old men, babies in arms
promised to grown men; many and diverse were the compacts entered
into, and always were the Wirreenun, or doctors of the tribes
After some days the Wirreenun told the men of the tribes that
they were going to hold a borah. But on no account must the innerh,
or women, know. Day by day they must all go forth as if to hunt
and then prepare in secret the borah ground. Out went the man
each day. They cleared a very large circle quite clear, then
they built an earthen dam round this circle, and cleared a pathway
leading into the thick bush from the circle, and built a dam
on either side of this pathway.
When all these preparations were finished, they had, as usual,
a corrobboree at night. After this had been going on for some
time, one of the old Wirreenun walked right away from the crowd
as if he were sulky. He went to his camp, to where he was followed
by another Wirreenun, and presently the two old fellows began
fighting. Suddenly, when the attention of the blacks was fixed
on this fight, there came a strange, whizzing, whirring noise
from the scrub round. The women and children shrank together,
for the sudden, uncanny noise frightened them. And they knew
that it was made by the spirits who were coming to assist at
the initiation of the boys into young manhood. The noise really
sounded, if you had not the dread of spirits in your mind, just
as if some one had a circular piece of wood at the end of a string
and were whirling it round and round.
As the noise went on, the women said, in an awestricken tone,
"Gurraymy," that is "borah devil," and clutched
their children tighter to them. The boys said "Gayandy,"
and their eyes extended with fear. "Gayandy " meant
borah devil too, but the women must not even use the same word
as the boys and men to express the borah spirit, for all concerning
the mysteries of borah are sacred from the ears, eyes, or tongues
The next day a shift was made of the camps. They were moved
to inside the big ring that the black fellows had made. This
move was attended with a certain amount of ceremony. In the afternoon,
before the move had taken place, all the black fellows left their
camps and went away into the scrub. Then just about sundown they
were all to be seen walking in single file out of the scrub,
along the path which they had previously banked on each side.
Every man had a fire stick in one hand and a green switch in
the other. When these men reached the middle of the enclosed
ring was the time for the young people and women to leave the
old camps, and move into the borah ring. Inside this ring they
made their camps, had their suppers and corrobboreed, as on previous
evenings, up to a certain stage. Before, on this occasion, that
stage arrived, Byamee, who was greatest of theWirreenun present,
had shown his power in a remarkable way. For some days the Mahthi
had been behaving with a great want of respect for the wise men
of the tribes. Instead of treating their sayings and doings with
the silent awe the Wirreenun expect, they had kept up an incessant
chatter and laughter amongst themselves, playing and shouting
as if the tribes were not contemplating the solemnisation of
their most sacred rites. Frequently the Wirreenun sternly bade
them be silent. But admonitions were useless, gaily chattered
and laughed the Mahthi. At length Byamee, mightiest and most
famous of the Wirreenun, rose, strode over to the camp of Mahthi,
and said fiercely to them: "I, Byamee, whom all the tribes
hold in honour, have thrice bade you Mahthi cease your chatter
and laughter. But you heeded me not. To my voice were added the
voices of the Wirreenun of other tribes. But you heeded not.
Think you the Wirreenun will make any of your tribe young men
when you heed not their words? No, I tell you. From this day
forth no Mahthi shall speak again as men speak. You wish to make
noise, to be a noisy tribe and a disturber of men; a tribe who
cannot keep quiet when strangers are in the camp; a tribe who
understand not sacred things. So be it. You shall, and your descendants,
for ever make a noise, but it shall not be the noise of speech,
or the noise of laughter. It shall be the noise of barking and
the noise of howling. And from this day if ever a Mahthi speaks,
woe to those who hear him, for even as they hear shall they be
turned to stone."
And as the Mahthi opened their mouths, and tried to laugh
and speak derisive words, they found, even as Byamee said, so
were they. They could but bark and howl; the powers of speech
and laughter had they lost. And as they realised their loss,
into their eyes came a look of yearning and dumb entreaty which
will be seen in the eyes of their descendants for ever. A feeling
of wonder and awe fell on the various camps as they watched Byamce
march back to his tribe.
When Byamee was seated again in his camp, he asked the women
why they were not grinding doonburr. And the women said: "Gone
are our dayoorls, and we know not where."
"You lie," said Byamee. "You have lent them
to the Dummerh, who came so often to borrow, though I bade you
"No, Byamee, we lent them not."
"Go to the camp of the Dummerh, and ask for your dayoorl."
The women, with the fear of the fate of the Mahthi did they
disobey, went, though well they knew they had not lent the dayoorl.
As they went they asked at each camp if the tribe there would
lend them a dayoorl, but at each camp they were given the same
answer, namely, that the dayoorls were gone and none knew where.
The Dummerh had asked to borrow them, and in each instance been
refused, yet had the stones gone.
As the women went on they heard a strange noise, as of the
cry of spirits, a sound like a smothered "Oom, oom, oom,
oom." The cry sounded high in the air through the tops of
trees, then low on the ground through the grasses, until it seemed
as if the spirits were everywhere. The women clutched tighter
their fire sticks, and said: "Let us go back. The Wondah
are about," And swiftly they sped towards their camp, hearing
ever in the air the "Oom, oom, oom " of the spirits.
They told Byamee that all the tribes had lost their dayoorls,
and that the spirits were about, and even as they spoke came
the sound of "Oom, oom, oom, oom," at the back of their
The women crouched together, but Byamee flashed a fire stick
whence came the sound, and as the light flashed on the place
he saw no one, but stranger than all, he saw two dayoorls moving
along, and yet could see no one moving them, and as the dayoorls
moved swiftly away, louder and louder rose the sound of "Oom,
oom, oom, oom," until the air seemed full of invisible spirits.
Then Byamee knew that indeed the Wondah were about, and he too
clutched his fire stick and went back into his camp.
In the morning it was seen that not only were all the dayoorls
gone, but the camp of the Dummerh was empty and they too had
gone. When no one would lend the Dummerh dayoorls, they had said,
"Then we can grind no doonburr unless the Wondah bring us
stones." And scarcely were the words said before they saw
a dayoorl moving towards them. At first they thought it was their
own skill which enabled them only to express a wish to have it
realised. But as dayoorl after dayoorl glided into their camp,
and, passing through there, moved on, and as they moved was the
sound of "Oom, oom, oom, oom," to be heard everywhere
they knew it was the Wondah at work. And it was borne in upon
them that where the dayoorl went they must go, or they would
anger the spirits who had brought them through their camp.
They gathered up their belongings and followed in the track
of the dayoorls, which had cut a pathway from Googoorewon to
Girrahween, down which in high floods is now a water-course.
From Girrahween, on the dayoorls went to Dirangibirrah, and after
them the Dummerh. Dirangibirrah is between Brewarrina and Widda
Murtee, and there the dayoorls piled themselves up into a mountain,
and there for the future had the blacks to go when they wanted
good dayoorls. And the Dummerh were changed into pigeons, with
a cry like the spirits of "Oom, oom, oom."
Another strange thing happened at this big borah. A tribe,
called Ooboon, were camped at some distance from the other tribes.
When any stranger went to their camp, it was noticed that the
chief of the Ooboon would come out and flash a light on him,
which killed him instantly. And no one knew what this light was,
that carried death in its gleam. At last, Wähn the crow,
said "I will take my biggest booreen and go and see what
this means. You others, do not follow me too closely, for though
I have planned how to save myself from the deadly gleam, I might
not be able to save you."
Wähn walked into the camp of the Ooboon, and as their
chief turned to flash the light on him, he put up his booreen
and completely shaded himself from it, and called aloud in a
deep voice "Wäh, wäh, wäh, wäh "
which so startled Ooboon that he dropped his light, and said
"What is the matter? You startled me. I did not know who
you were and might have hurt you, though I had no wish to, for
the Wähn are my friends."
"I cannot stop now," said the Wähn, "I
must go back to my camp. I have forgotten something I wanted
to show you. I'll be back soon." And so saying, swiftly
ran Wähn back to where he had left his boondee, then back
he came almost before Ooboon realised that he had gone. Back
he came, and stealing up behind Ooboon dealt him a blow with
his boondee that avenged amply the victims of the deadly light,
by stretching the chief of the Ooboon a corpse on the ground
at his feet. Then crying triumphantly, "Wäh, wäh,
wäh," back to his camp went Wähn and told what
he had done.
This night, when the Borah corrobboree began, all the women
relations of the boys to be made young men, corrobboreed all
night. Towards the end of the night all the young women were
ordered into bough humpies, which had been previously made all
round the edge of the embankment surrounding the ring. The old
women stayed on.
The men who were to have charge of the boys to be made young
men, were told now to be ready to seize hold each of his special
charge, to carry him off down the beaten track to the scrub.
When every man had, at a signal, taken his charge on his shoulder,
they all started dancing round the ring. Then the old women were
told to come and say good-bye to the boys, after which they were
ordered to join the young women in the humpies. About five men
watched them into the humpies, then pulled the boughs down on
the top of them that they might see nothing further.
When the women were safely imprisoned beneath the boughs,
the men carrying the boys swiftly disappeared down the track
into the scrub. When they were out of sight the five black fellows
came and pulled the boughs away and released the women, who went
now to their camps. But however curious these women were as to
what rites attended the boys' initiation into manhood, they knew
no questions would elicit any information. In some months' time
they might see their boys return minus, perhaps, a front tooth,
and with some extra scarifications on their bodies, but beyond
that, and a knowledge of the fact that they had not been allowed
to look on the face of woman since their disappearance into the
scrub, they were never enlightened.
The next day the tribes made ready to travel to the place
of the little borah, which would be held in about four days'
time, at about ten or twelve miles distance from the scene of
the big borah.
At the place of the little borah a ring of grass is made instead
of one of earth. The tribes all travel together there, camp,
and have a corrobboree. The young women are sent to bed early,
and the old women stay until the time when the boys bade farewell
to them at the big borah, at which hour the boys are brought
into the little borah and allowed to say a last good-bye to the
old women. Then they are taken away by the men who have charge
of them together. They stay together for a short time, then probably
separate, each man with his one boy going in a different direction.
The man keeps strict charge of the boy for at least six months,
during which time he may not even look at his own mother. At
the end of about six months he may come back to his tribe, but
the effect of his isolation is that he is too wild and frightened
to speak even to his mother, from whom he runs away if she approaches
him, until by degrees the strangeness wears off.
But at this borah of Byamee the tribes were not destined to
meet the boys at the little borah. just as they were gathering
up their goods for a start, into the camp staggered Millindooloonubbah,
the widow, crying, "You all left me, widow that I was, with
my large family of children, to travel alone. How could the little
feet of my children keep up to you? Can my back bear more than
one goolay? Have I more than two arms and one back? Then how
could I come swiftly with so many children? Yet none of you stayed
to help me. And as you went from each water hole you drank all
the water. When, tired and thirsty, I reached a water hole and
my children cried for a drink, what did I find to give them?
Mud, only mud. Then thirsty and worn, my children crying and
their mother helpless to comfort them; on we came to the next
hole. What did we see, as we strained our eyes to find water?
Mud, only mud. As we reached hole after hole and found only mud,
one by one my children laid down and died; died for want of a
drink, which Millindooloonubbah their mother could not give them."
As she spoke, swiftly went a woman to her with a wirree of
water. "Too late, too late," she said. "Why should
a mother live when her children are dead?" And she lay back
with a groan. But as she felt the water cool her parched lips
and soften her swollen tongue, she made a final effort, rose
to her feet, and waving her hands round the camps of the tribes,
cried aloud: "You were in such haste to get here. You shall
stay here. Googoolguyyah. Googoolguyyah. Turn into trees. Turn
into trees." Then back she fell, dead. And as she fell,
the tribes that were standing round the edge of the ring, preparatory
to gathering their goods and going, and that her hand pointed
to as it waved round, turned into trees. There they now stand.
The tribes in the background were changed each according to the
name they were known by, into that bird or beast of the same
name. The barking Mahthi into dogs; the Byahmul into black swans:
the Wähns into crows, and so on. And there at the place
of the big borah, you can see the trees standing tall and gaunt,
sad-looking in their sombre hues, waving with a sad wailing their
branches towards the lake which covers now the place where the
borah was held. And it bears the name of Googoorewon, the place
of trees, and round the edge of it is still to be seen the remains
of the borah ring of earth. And it is known as a great place
of meeting for the birds that bear the names of the tribes of
old. The Byahmuls sail proudly about; the pelicans, their water
rivals in point of size and beauty; the ducks, and many others
too numerous to mention. The Ooboon, or blue-tongued lizards,
glide in and out through the grass. Now and then is heard the
"Oom, oom, oom," of the dummerh, and occasionally a
cry from the bird Millindooloonubbah of "Googoolguyyah,
googoolguyyah." And in answer comes the wailing of the gloomy-looking
balah trees, and then a rustling shirr through the bibbil branches,
until at last every tree gives forth its voice and makes sad
the margin of the lake with echoes of the past.
But the men and boys who were at the place of the little borah
escaped the metamorphosis. Theywaited long for the arrival of
the tribes who never came.
At last Byamee said: "Surely mighty enemies have slain
our ftiends, and not one escapes to tell us of their fate. Even
now these enemies may be upon our track; let us go into a far
And swiftly they went to Noondoo. Hurrying along with them,
a dog of Byamee's, which would fain have lain by the roadside
rather than have travelled so swiftly, but Byamee would not leave
her and hurried her on. When they reached the springs of Noondoo,
the dog sneaked away into a thick scrub, and there were born
her litter of pups. But such pups as surely man never looked
at before. The bodies of dogs, and the heads of pigs, and the
fierceness and strength of devils. And gone is the life of a
man who meets in a scrub of Noondoo an earmoonän, for surely
will it slay him. Not even did Byamee ever dare to go near the
breed of his old dog. And Byamee, the mighty Wirreenun, lives
for ever. But no man must look upon his face, lest surely will
he die. So alone in a thick scrub, on one of the Noondoo ridges,
lives this old man, Byamee, the mightiest of Wirreenun.
Bunnyyarl the Flies and Wurrunnunnah the Bees
THE Bunnyyarl and Wurrunnunnah were relations, and lived in
one camp. The Wurrunnunnah were very hardworking, always trying
to gather food in a time of plenty, to lay in a store for a time
of famine. The Bunnyyarl used to give no heed to the future,
but used to waste their time playing round any rubbish, and never
thinking even of laying up any provisions. One day the Wurrunnunnah
said, "Come out with us and gather honey from flowers. Soon
will the winter winds blow the flowers away, and there will be
no more honey to gather."
" No," said the Bunnyyarl, " we have something
to look to here." And off they went, turning over some rubbish
and wasting their time, knowing whatever the Wurrunnunnah brought
they would share with them. The Wurrunnunnah went alone and left
the Bunnyyarl to their rubbish. The Wurrunnunnah gathered the
flowers and stored the honey, and never more went back to live
with the Bunnyyarls, for they were tired of doing all the work.
As time went on the Wurrunnunnah were changed into little
wild bees, and the lazy Bunnyyarls were changed into flies.
Deegeenboyah the Soldier-bird
DEEGEENBOYAH was an old man, and getting past hunting much
for himself; and he found it hard to keep his two wives and his
two daughters supplied with food. He camped with his family away
from the other tribes, but he used to join the men of the Mullyan
tribe when they were going out hunting, and so get a more certain
supply of food than if he had gone by himself. One day when the
Mullyan went out, he was too late to accompany them. He hid in
the scrub and waited for their return, at some little distance
from their camp. When they were coming back he heard them singing
the Song of the Setting Emu, a song which whoever finds the first
emu's nest of the season always sings before getting back to
the camp. Deegeenboyah jumped up as he heard the song, and started
towards the camp of the Mullyan singing the same song, as if
he too had found a nest. On they all went towards the camp sing
Nurdoo, nurbber me derreen derreenbah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.
Garmbay booan yunnahdeh beahwah ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.
Gubbondee, dee, ee, ee, ee.
Neäh neïn gulbeejah, ah, ah, ah, ah."
Which song roughly translated means:
I saw it first amongst the young trees,
The white mark on its forehead,
The white mark that before I had only seen as the emus moved
together in the day-time.
Never did I see one camp before, only moving, moving always.
Now that we have found the nest
We must look out the ants do not get to the eggs.
If they crawl over them the eggs are spoilt."
As the last echo of the song died away, those in the camp
took up the refrain and sang it back to the hunters to let them
know that they understood that they had found the first emu's
nest of the season.
When the hunters reached the camp, up came Deegeenboyah too.
The Mullyans turned to him, and said:
"Did you find an emu's nest too?"
"Yes," said Deegeenboyah, "I did. I think you
must have found the same, though after me, as I saw not your
tracks. But I am older and stiff in my limbs, so came not back
so quickly. Tell me, where is your nest?"
"In the clump of the Goolahbahs, on the edge of the plain,"
said the unsuspecting Mullyan.
"Ah, I thought so. That is mine. But what matter? We
can share-there will be plenty for all. We must get the net and
go and camp near the nest to-night, and to-morrow trap the emu."
The Mullyan got their emu trapping net, one made of thin rope
about as thick as a thin clothes line, about five feet high,
and between two and three hundred yards long. And off they set,
accompanied by Deegeenboyah, to camp near where the emu was setting.
When they had chosen a place to camp, they had their supper and
a little corrobborce, illustrative of slaying emu, etc. The next
morning at daylight they erected their net into a sort of triangular
shaped yard, one side open. Black fellows were stationed at each
end of the net, and at stated distances along it. The net was
upheld by upright poles. When the net was fixed, some of the
blacks made a wide circle round the emu's nest, leaving open
the side towards the net. They closed in gradually until they
frightened the emu off the nest. The emu seeing black fellows
on every side but one, ran in that direction. The blacks followed
closely, and the bird was soon yarded. Madly the frightened bird
rushed against the net. Up ran a black fellow, seized the bird
and wrung its neck. Then some of them went back to the nest to
get the eggs, which they baked in the ashes of their fire and
ate. They made a hole to cook the emu in. They plucked the emu.
When they had plenty of coals, they put a thick layer at the
bottom of the hole, some twigs of leaves on top of the coals,
some feathers on the top of them. Then they laid the emu in,
more feathers on the top of it, leaves again on top of them,
and over them a thick layer of coals, and lastly they covered
all with earth.
It would be several hours in cooking, so Deegeenboyah said,
"I will stay and cook the emu, you young fellows take moonoons-emu
spears-and try and get some more emu."
The Mullyan thought there was sense in this proposal, so they
took a couple of long spears, with a jagged nick at one end,
to hold the emu when they speared it; they stuck a few emu feathers
on the end of each spear and went off. They soon saw a flock
of emu coming past where they were waiting to water. Two of the
party armed with the moonoon climbed a tree, broke some boughs
and put these thickly beneath them, so as to screen them from
the emu. Then as the emu came near to the men they dangled down
their spears, letting the emu feathers on the ends wave to and
fro. The emu, seeing the feathers, were curious as to how they
got there, came over, craning their necks and sniffing right
underneath the spears. The black fellows tightly grasped the
moonoons and drove them with force into the two emu they had
picked One emu dropped dead at once. The other ran with the spear
in it for a short distance, but the black fellow was quickly
after it, and soon caught and killed it outright. Then carrying
the dead birds, back they went to where Deegeenboyah was cooking
the other emu. They cooked the two they had brought, and then
all started for the camp in great spirits at their successful
chase. They began throwing their mooroolahs as they went along,
and playing with their bubberahs, or returning boomerangs. Old
Deegeenboyah said, "Here, give me the emus to carry, and
then you will be free to have a really good game with your mooroolahs
and bubberahs, and see who is the best man."
They gave him the emus, and on they went, some throwing mooroolahs,
and some showing their skill with bubberahs. Presently Deegeenboyah
sat down. They thought he was just resting for a few minutes,
so ran on laughing and playing, each good throw eliciting another
effort, for none liked owning themselves beaten while they had
a mooroolah left. As they got further away -they noticed Deegeenboyah
was still sitting down, so they called out to him to know what
was the matter. "All right," he said, "only having
a rest; shall come on in a minute." So on they went. When
they were quite out of sight Deegeenboyah jumped up quickly,
took up the emus and made for an opening in the ground at a little
distance. This opening was the door of the underground home of
the Murgah Muggui spider-the opening was a neat covering, like
a sort of trap door. Down though this he went, taking the emus
with him, knowing there was another exit at some distance, out
of which he could come up quite near his home, for it was the
way he often took after hunting.
The Mullyans went home and waited, but no sign of Deegeenboyah.
Then back on their tracks they went and called aloud, but got
no answer, and saw no sign. At last Mullyangah the chief of the
Mullyans, said he would find him. Arming himself with his boondees
and spears, he went back to where he had last seen Deegeenboyah
sitting. He saw where his tracks turned off and where they disappeared,
but could not account for their disappearance, as he did not
notice the neat little trap-door of the Murgah Muggui. But he
hunted round, determined to scour the bush until he found him.
At last he saw a camp. He went up to it and saw only two little
girls playing about, whom he knew were the daughters of Deegeenboyah.
"Where is your father?" he asked them.
"Out hunting," they said.
"Which way does he come home?"
"Our father comes home out of this;" and they showed
him the spiders' trap-door.
"Where are your mothers?"
"Our mothers are out getting honey and yams." And
off ran the little girls to a leaning tree on which they played,
running up its bent trunk.
Mullyangah went and stood where the trunk was highest from
the ground and said: "Now, little girls, run up to here
and jump, and I will catch you. jump one at a time."
Off jumped one of the girls towards his outstretched arms,
which, as she came towards him he dropped, and, stepping aside,
let her come with her full force to the ground where she lay
dead. Then he called to the horror-stricken child on the tree:
"Come, jump. Your sister came too quickly. Wait till I call,
"No, I am afraid."
"Come on, I will be ready this tirne. Now come."
"I am afraid."
"Come on; I am strong." And he smiled quite kindly
up at the child, who, hesitating no longer, jumped towards his
arms, only to meet her sister's fate.
"Now," said Mullyangah, "here come the two
wives. I must silence them, or when they see their children their
cries will warn their husband if he is within earshot."
So he sneaked behind a tree, and as the two wives passed he struck
them dead with his spears. Then he went to the trapdoor that
the children had shown him, and sat down to wait for the coming
of Deegeenboyah. He had not long to wait. The trap-door was pushed
up and out came a cooked eniu, which he caught hold of and laid
on one side. Deegeenboyah thought it was the girls taking it,
as they had often watched for his coming and done before, so
he pushed up another, which Mullyangah took, then a third, and
lastly came up himself, to find Mullyangah confronting him spear
and boondee in hand. He started back, but the trap-door was shut
behind him, and Mullyangah barred his escape in front.
"Ah," said Mullyangah, "you stole our food
and now you shall die. I've killed your children."
Decgeenboyah looked wildly round, and, seeing the dead bodies
of his girls beneath the leaning tree, he groaned aloud.
"And," went on Mullyangah, "I've killed your
Deegenboyah raised his head and looked again wildly round,
and there, on their homeward path, he saw his dead wives. Then
he called aloud, "Here Mullyangah are your emus; take them
and spare me. I shall steal no more, for I myself want little,
but my children and my wives hungred. I but stole for them. Spare
me, I pray you. I am old; I shall not live long. Spare me."
"Not so," said Mullyangah, " no man lives to
steal twice from a Mullyan;" and, so saying, he speared
Deegeenboyah where he stood. Then he lifted up the emus, and,
carrying them with him, went swiftly back to his camp.
And merry was the supper that night when the Mullyans ate
the emus, and Mullyangah told the story of his search and slaughter.
And proud were the Mullyans of the prowess and cunning of their
Mayrah, the Wind that Blows the Winter Away
AT the beginning of winter, the iguanas hide themselves in
their homes in the sand; the black eagle hawks go into their
nests; the garbarlee or shingle-backs hide themselves in little
logs, just big enough to hold them; the iguanas dig a long way
into the sand and cover up the passage behind them, as they go
along. They all stay in their winter homes until Mayrah blows
the winter away. Mayrah first blows up a thunderstorm. When the
iguanas hear the thunder, they know the spring is not far off,
so they begin making a passage to go out again, but they do not
leave their winter home until the Curreequinquin, or butcher
birds sing all day almost without ceasing "Goore, goore,
goore, goore." Then they know that Mayrah has really blown
the winter away, for the birds are beginning to pair and build
their nests. So they open their eyes and come out on the green
earth again. And when the black fellows hear the curreequinquins
singing "Goore, goore," they know that they can go
out and find iguanas again, and find them fatter than when they
went away with the coming of winter. Then, too, will they find
piggiebillahs hurrying along to get away from their young ones,
which they have buried in the sand and left to shift for themselves,
for no longer can they carry them, as the spines of the young
ones begin to prick them in their pouch. So they leave them and
hurry away, that they may not hear their cry. They know they
shall meet them again later on, when they are grown big. Then
as Mayrah softly blows, the flowers one by one open, and the
bees come out again to gather honey. Every bird wears his gayest
plumage and sings his sweetest song to attract a mate, and in
pairs they go to build their nests. And still Mayrah softly blows
until the land is one of plenty; then Yhi the sun chases her
back whence she came, and the flowers droop and the birds sing
only in the early morning. For Yhi rules in the land until the
storms are over and have cooled him, and winter takes his place
to be blown away again by Mayrah the loved of all, and the bringer
Wayarnbeh the Turtle
OOLAH, the lizard, was out getting yams on a Mirrieh flat.
She had three of her children with her. Suddenly she thought
she heard some one moving behind the big Mirrieh bushes. She
listened. All of a sudden out jumped Wayambeh from behind a bush
and seized Oolah, telling her not to make a noise and he would
not hurt her, but that he meant to take her off to his camp to
be his wife. He would take her three children too and look after
them. Resistance was useless, for Oolah had only her yam stick,
while Wayambeh had his spears and boondees. Wayambeh took the
woman and her children to his camp. His tribe when they saw him
bring home a woman of the Oolah tribe, asked him if her tribe
had given her to him. He said, "No, I have stolen her."
"Well," they said, "her tribe will soon be
after her; you must protect yourself; we shall not fight for
you. You had no right to steal her without telling us. We had
a young woman of our own tribe for you, yet you go and steal
an Oolah and bring her to the camp of the Wayambeh. On your own
head be the consequences."
In a short time the Oolahs were seen coming across the plain
which faced the camp of the Wayambeh. And they came not in friendship
or to parley, for no women were with them, and they carried no
boughs of peace in their bands, but were painted as for war,
and were armed with fighting weapons.
When the Wayambeh saw the approach of the Oolah, their chief
said: "Now, Wayambeh, you had better go out on to the plain
and do your own fighting; we shall not help you."
Wayambeh chose the two biggest boreens that he had; one he
slung on him, covering the front of his body, and one the back;
then, seizing his weapons, he strode out to meet his enemies.
When he was well out on to the plain, though still some distance
from the Oolah, he called out, "Come on."
The answer was a shower of spears and boomerangs. As they
came whizzing through the air Wayambeh drew his arms inside the
boreens, and ducked his head down between them, so escaped.
As the weapons fell harmless to the ground, glancing off his
boreen, out again he stretched his arms and held up again his
head, shouting, "Come on, try again, I'm ready."
The answer was another shower of weapons, which he met in
the same way. At last the Oolahs closed in round him, forcing
him to retreat towards the creek.
Shower after shower of weapons they slung at him, and were
getting at such close quarters that his only chance was to dive
into the creek. He turned towards the creek, tore the front boreen
off him, flung down his weapons and plunged in.
The Oolah waited, spears poised in hand, ready to aim directly
his head appeared above water, but they waited in vain. Wayambeh,
the black fellow, they never saw again, but in the waterhole
wherein he had dived they saw a strange creature, which bore
on its back a fixed structure like a boreen, and which, when
they went to try and catch it, drew in its head and limbs, so
they said, "It is Wayambeh." And this was the beginning
of Wayambeh, or turtle, in the creeks.
Wirreenun the Rainmaker
THE country was stricken with a drought. The rivers were all
dry except the deepest holes in them. The grass was dead, and
even the trees were dying. The bark dardurr of the blacks were
all fallen to the ground and lay there rotting, so long was it
since they had been used, for only in wet weather did the blacks
use the bark dardurr; at other times they used only whatdooral,
or bough shades.
The young men of the Noongahburrah murmured among themselves,
at first secretly, at last openly, saying: "Did not our
fathers always say that the Wirreenun could make, as we wanted
it, the rain to fall? Yet look at our country -the grass blown
away, no doonburr seed to grind, the kangaroo are dying, and
the emu, the duck, and the swan have flown to far countries.
We shall have no food soon; then shall we die, and the Noongahburrah
be no more seen on the Narrin. Then why, if he is able, does
not Wirreenun inake rain?"
Soon these murmurs reached the ears of the old Wirreenun.
He said nothing, but the young fellows noticed that for two or
three days in succession he went to the waterhole in the creek
and placed in it a willgoo willgoo-a long stick, ornamented at
the top with white cockatoo feathers-and beside the stick he
placed two big gubberah, that is, two big, clear pebbles which
at other times he always secreted about him, in the folds of
his waywah, or in the band or net on his head. Especially was
he careful to hide these stones from the women.
At the end of the third day Wirreenun said to the young men:
"Go you, take your comeboos and cut bark sufficient to make
dardurr for all the tribe."
The young men did as they were bade. When they had the bark
cut and brought in Wirreenun said: "Go you now and raise
with ant-bed a high place, and put thereon logs and wood for
a fire, build the ant-bed about a foot from the ground. Then
put you a floor of ant-bed a foot high whereever you are going
to build a dardurr."
And they did what he told them. When the dardurr were finished,
having high floors of ant-bed and water-tight roofs of bark,
Wirreenun commanded the whole camp to come with him to the waterhole;
men, women, and children; all were to come. They all followed
him down to the creek, to the waterhole where he had placed the
willgoo willgoo and gubberah. Wirreenun jumped into the water
and bade the tribe follow him, which they did. There in the water
they all splashed and played about. After a little time Wirreenun
went up first behind one black fellow and then behind another,
until at length he had been round them all, and taken from the
back of each one's head lumps of charcoal. When he went up to
each he appeared to suck the back or top of their heads, and
to draw out lumps of charcoal, which, as he sucked them out,
he spat into the water. When he had gone the round of all, he
went out of the water. But just as he got out a young man caught
him up in his arms and threw him back into the water. This happened
several times, until Wirreenun was shivering. That was the signal
for all to leave the creek. Wirreenun sent all the young people
into a big bough shed, and bade them all go to sleep. He and
two old men and two old women stayed outside. They loaded themselves
with all their belongings piled up on their backs, dayoorl stones
and all, as if ready for a flitting. These old people walked
impatiently around the bough shed as if waiting a signal to start
somewhere. Soon a big black cloud appeared on the horizon, first
a single cloud, which, however, was soon followed by others rising
all round. They rose quickly until they all met just overhead,
forming a big black mass of clouds. As soon as this big, heavy,
rainladen looking cloud was stationary overhead, the old people
went into the bough shed and bade the young people wake up and
come out and look at the sky. When they were all roused Wirreenun
told them to lose no time, but to gather together all their possessions
and hasten to gain the shelter of the bark dardurr. Scarcely
were they all in the dardurrs and their spears well hidden when
there sounded a terrific clap of thunder, which was quickly followed
by a regular cannonade, lightning flashes shooting across the
sky, followed by instantaneous claps of deafening thunder. A
sudden flash of lightning, which lit a pathway, from heaven to
earth, was followed by such a terrific clash that the blacks
thought their very camps were struck. But it was a tree a little
distance off. The blacks huddled together in their dardurrs,
frightened to move, the children crying with fear, and the dogs
crouching towards their owners.
"We shall be killed," shrieked the women. The men
said nothing but looked as frightened.
Only Wirreenun was fearless. "I will go out," he
said, "and stop the storm from hurting us. The lightning
shall come no nearer."
So out in front of the dardurrs strode Wirreenun, and naked
he stood there facing the storm, singing aloud, as the thunder
roared and the lightning flashed, the chant which was to keep
it away from the camp
Durreemooray, mooray, mooray," &c.
Soon came a lull in the cannonade, a slight breeze stirred
the trees for a few moments, then an oppressive silence, and
then the rain in real earnest began, and settled down to a steady
downpour, which lasted for some days.
When the old people had been patrolling the bough shed as
the clouds rose overhead, Wirreenun had gone to the waterhole
and taken out the willgoo willgoo and the stones, for he saw
by the cloud that their work was done.
When the rain was over and the country all green again, the
blacks had a great corrobboree and sang of the skill of Wirreenun,
rainmaker to the Noongahburrah.
Wirreenun sat calm and heedless of their praise, as he had
been of their murmurs. But he determined to show them that his
powers were great, so he summoned the rainmaker of a neighbouring
tribe, and after some consultation with him, he ordered the tribes
to go to the Googoorewon, which was then a dry plain, with the
solemn, gaunt trees all round it, which had once been black fellows.
When they were all camped round the edges of this plain, Wirreenun
and his fellow rainmaker made a great rain to fall just over
the plain and fill it with water.
When the plain was changed into a lake, Wirreenun said to
the young men of his tribe: "Now take your nets and fish."
"What good?" said they. "The lake is filled
from the rain, not the flood water of rivers, filled but yesterday,
how then shall there be fish?"
"Go," said Wirreenun. "Go as I bid you; fish.
If your nets catch nothing then shall Wirreenun speak no more
to the men of his tribe, he will seek only honey and yams with
More to please the man who had changed their country from
a desert to a hunter's paradise, they did as he bade them, took
their nets and went into the lake. And the first time they drew
their nets, they were heavy with goodoo, murree, tucki, and bunmillah.
And so many did they catch that all the tribes, and their dogs,
Then the elders of the camp said now that there was plenty
everywhere, they would have a borah that the boys should be made
young men. On one of the ridges away from the camp, that the
women should not know, would they prepare a ground.
And so was the big borah of the Googoorewon held, the borah
which was famous as following on the triumph of Wirreenun the
EDITOR and Publisher have gratefully accepted a suggestion
made by Dr. E. B. Tylor, that the philologist would be thankful
for a specimen of these tales in their native form.
DINEWAN BOOLLARHNAH GOOMBLEGUBBON
Dinewan boorool diggayah gillunnee. Nahmerhneh boorool doorunmai.
Goomblegubbon boolwarrunnee. Goomblegubbon numbardee boorool
boolwarrunnee Dinewan numbardee. Baiyan noo nurruldundi gunnoonah
burraylundi nurreebah burri bunnagullundi. Goomblegubbondoo winnanullunnee
dirrah dungah nah gillunnee, Dinewandoo boonoong noo beonemuldundi.
Goomblegubbondoo winnanullunnee gullarh naiyahneh gwallee
"Wahl ninderh doorunmai gillaygoo. Baiyan noo winnanunnee
boonoong gurrahgoo, wahlneh burraylaygoo. Wahl butndi naiyah
boorool gillunnah boomahleegooneh naiyah butthdinen woggee gwallee
myrenay boonoong gillundi."
Illah noo nurray Dinewan nahwandi. Goomblegubbon lowannee
boonooog noo wunnee wooee baiyan nurrunnee bonyehdool. Baiyan
boollarhgneh gwalleelunnee. Goomblegubbondoo gooway:
"Minyah goo ninderh wahl boonoong dulleebah gillunnee?
Gunnoono diggayah burraylunneh. Wahl boonoong ninderh doorunmai.
Myrenay boonoong gillunneh Gunnoogoo nunnahlah doorunmai gimbehlee."
Dinewandoo gooway "Gheerh ninderh boonoong bayyi."
Nahnee Dinewan noonoo meer gullahgeh. Baiyan boollarhneh budtnah
ginnee. Boonoong butndi nullee gurray wahl Goomblegubbon doorunmai
Dinewandoo gooneejayn gooway cooleer noo noo boonoong gurrahlee
goo comeboo goo.
Baiyan noo gaiathah noonoo boonoong gurray. Baiyan, neh bunnerhgahoonee
Goomblegubbon. Dinewan gooway Goomblegubbon:
"Boonoong nayr gurray." Goomblegubbon gindabnunnee,
barnee, bunna gunnee dirrah gunnee numerhneh. Boonoong beeyonemay,
baiyan noo gooway Dinewan.
"Dungneemay ninnerhneh nayr byjundool boonoong. Mayerboo
nay, nay boonoong, gurrah wahl dunerh. Wombah ninderh byjundool
boonoong." Dinewan bunna gunnee boomahlee-goo Goomblegubbon,
baiyan Goomblegubbon burrunnee. Narahgahdool myrenay boonoong.
Baiyan Dinewan eelaynerhginnee nahnee illah nayahe ninnernah
gullahrah gimbehlee. Illah lah noo noo winnanunnee. Baiyan noo
doorimbai birrahleegul boollarhyel nuddahnooway booroolah binnamayahgahway.
Baiyan neh moorillah die gahraymo noo-noo, boollarh noo garwannee.
Baiyan neh woggee goo nahnee. Goomblegubbondoo birrahleegul oodundi
gunoonoo garwil. Baiyan boollarhgneh gwallannee. Dinewan gooway
"Minyah goo ninderh booroolah birrahleegulgah gillunnah.
Wahl ninder booroolah goo garwil ooday. Tuggil ninderh boollarhyel
gargillay baiyan boollarhgnah, booral giggee, wahl ninderh booroolah
goo gooloon marlday." Goomblegubbon buthdi ginnee nalmee.
"Gullarh nayr nay birrahleegul boorool luggeray Dinewan?
Boollarhyel nay gillundi yahmerh boollarhgnah boorool giggee
Winnanunnee noo dungeway. Baiyan noo nurray Dinewan, nurray
Baiyan noo gooway:
"Boomahlee doo gunnoono boollarhyel nayr gurrahwulday.
Dinewan wahl doorunmai gillay woggee goo. Goomblegubbon weel
gillay doorunmai. Goomblegubbon boorool giggee luggeray Dinewun,
boonoong gunnoo goo gurrahwulday. Baiyan noo boomay gunnoono
birrahlee gul boollarhyel noo gurrahway. Baiyanneh durrahwallunee
nummerh nayr Dinewan doo duldundigoo. Dinewandoo guggay."
"Minyah ninnoo birrahleegul?"
"Gunnoono nayr boomay boollarhyel gargillunnah."
"Wullundoo youlloo ninderh boomay! Booroolah nay birrahleegul,
gooloonmul dunnerli nayr gunnoonoo. Booroolah gunnoonoo. Nurraleh
noill doowar yu booloobunnee. Nurraleh boonboon. Nummerh nayr
bayah muldunnerh nay birrahlee gulloo."
"Boollarhyel ninnoo birrahlee garlee."
"Booroolah boollarh nay. Nayr di gargee ninnoonderh nurranmullee
Dinewan bunnagunnee binnamayahgoo nayr noo doorimbundigoo
birrableegul. Baiyan naiyah durrabwullunee, dirralabeel ginnee
noo boobootella, gwallandy, "Boom, boom." Birrahleegul
noo noo bunna gairlehwahndi, beweererh nurrahwahndi, weeleer,
weerleeer, Tuwerh munneh doorundi, baiyanneh eelay nurrunnee.
Baiyan noo gooway.
"Geeroo nayr ninnunnerh gooway. Gunnoono nayr nay birrahleegul
gurrahwuldunnerh. Nurullah Numerh nayr ninnoo nurragah birrahleegul!
Boomay ninderh ninnoo birrahleegul, ninderh nunnoo dung eemai!
Tuggil nayr lahnylay nayr boonoong ninderh boomah boollarhyel
birrahleegarlee gargillay. Gurrahwuldare ninnoo boonong nayr
luggeeroo, gurrahwulday nay birrahleegul."
Mrs, Parker writes: "The old black woman who first told
me the tale is away, but I got another old woman of the pre-white
era to tell it again to me yesterday; it is almost the same,
minus one of the descriptive touches immaterial to the story
as such; in fact, to all intents and purposes, the same."
Beeleer, black cockatoo.
Beereeun, prickly lizard.
Bibbee, woodpecker, bird.
Bibbil, shiny-leaved box-tree.
Bilber, a large kind of rat.
Billai or Billay, crimson-wing parrot.
Bindeah, a prickle or sinall thorn.
Bingah wingul, needle bush, a tall thorny shrub.
Birrahgnooloo, woman's name, meaning "face like a tomahawk
Boobootella, the big bunch of feathers at the back of an emu.
Boolooral, an owl.
Boomerang, a curved weapon used in hunting and in warfare
by the blacks; called Burren by the Narran blacks.
Bootoolgah, blue-grey crane.
Borah, a large gathering of blacks where the boys are initiated
into the mysteries which make them young men.
Bou-gou-doo-gahdah, the rain bird. Like the bower or mocking
Bowrah or Bohrah, kangaroo.
Bralgahs, native companion, bird.
Bubberah, boomerang that returns.
Buckandee, native cat.
Buggoo, flying squirrel.
Bumble, a fruit-bearing tree, sometimes called wild orange
and sometimes wild pomegranate tree. Capparis.
Bunbundoolooey, brown flock pigeon.
Burreenjin, magpie, lark, or peewee
Budtha, rosewood-tree, also girl's name.
Byamee, man's name, meaning "big man."
Comebee, bag made of kangaroo skins.
Comeboo, stone tomahawk.
Cookooburrah, laughing jackass.
Coorigil, name of place, meaning sign of bees.
Corrobboree, black fellows' dance.
Cunnembeillee, woman's name, meaning pig-weed root.
Curree guin guin, butcher-bird.
Daen, black fellows.
Dardurr, bark, humpy or shed.
Dayah minyah, carpet snake.
Dayoorl, large flat stone for grinding grass seed upon.
Decreeree, willy wagtail.
Dheal, the sacred tree of the Noongahburrahs, only used for
putting on the graves of the dead.
Dingo, native dog.
Doonburr, a grass seed.
Dungle, water hole.
Durrie, bread made from grass seed.
Eär moonän, long sharp teeth.
Euloo marah, large tree grubs. Edible.
Euloo wirree, rainbow.
Galah or Gilah, a French grey and rose-coloured cockatoo.
Gayandy, borah devil.
Gidgereegah, a species of small parrot.
Girrahween, place of flowers.
Googoolguyyah, turn into trees.
Googoorewon, place of trees.
Goolahbah, grey-leaved box-tree.
Goolahgool, water-holding tree.
Goolahwilleel, top-knot pigeon.
Goomade, red stamp.
Goomai, water rat.
Goomblegubbon, bastard or plainturkey.
Goomillah, young girl's dress, consisting of waist strings
made of opossum's sinews with strands of woven oppossum's hair,
hanging about a foot square in front.
Goonur, kangaroo rat.
Goug gour gahgah, laughing-jackass. Literal meaning, "Take
Grooee, handsome foliaged tree bearing a plum-like fruit,
tart and bitter, but much liked by the blacks.
Gubberah, magical stones of Wirreenum. Clear crystallised
Guddah, red lizard,
Guiebet, a thorny creeper bearing masses of a lovely myrtle-like
flower and an edible fruit somewhat resembling passion fruit.
Guinary, light eagle hawk.
Guineboo, robin redbreast.
Gurraymy, borah devil.
Gwaibillah, star. Mars.
Kurreah, an alligator.
Maira, paddy melon.
May or Mayr, wind.
Mayrah, spring wind.
Midjee, a species of acacia.
Millair, species of kangaroo rat.
Mooninguggahgul, mosquito-calling bird.
Moonoon, emu spear.
Mooroonumildah, having no eyes.
Morilla or Moorillah, pebbly ridges.
Mullyan, eagle hawk.
Mullyangah, the morning star.
Murgah muggui, big grey spider.
Murrawondah, climbing rat.
Noongahburrah, tribe of blacks on the Narran.
Nullah nullah, a club or heavy-headed weapon.
Nurroo gay gay, dreadful pain.
Nyunnoo or Nunnoo, a grass humpy.
Ooboon, blue-tongued lizard.
Oolah, red prickly lizard.
Oongnairwah, black divcr.
Piggiebillah, ant-eater. One of the Echidna, a marsupial.
Quarrian, a kind of parrot.
Quatha, quandong; a red fruit like a round red plum.
U e hu, rain, only so called in song.
Waligoo, to hide. A game like hide-and-seek.
Waywah, worn by men, consisting of a waistband made of opossum's
sinews with bunches of strips of paddymelon skins hanging from
Weedall, bower or mocking-bird.
Weeownbeen, a small bird. Something like a redbreast, only
with longer tail and not so red a breast.
Widya nurrah, a wooden battleaxe shaped weapon.
Willgoo willgoo, pointed stick with feathers on top.
Wirree, small piece of bark, canoe-shaped.
Wirreenun, priest or doctor.
Wondah, spirit or ghost.
Wurranunnah, wild bees.
Wurrawilberoo, whirlwind with a devil in it; also clouds of
Wurrunnah, man's name, meaning standing.
Yaraan, white gum-tree.
Yhi, the sun.
Yuckay, oh, dear!
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