Way back in the Dreamtime, many tribes prospered - living on the lush lands that Baiame, Great Spirit, had created for them. The trees provided wood for making spears for hunting and didgeridoo for music. Rushes growing around the billabongs gave the women reeds to make baskets for carrying food - animals were plentiful, rivers full of fish. Life was good for the tribes except they couldn't get along with one another; continually arguing and eventually fighting with tribes that lived close by.
The tribes were never happy even though they had everything they needed for a good life and they never smiled.
Baiame, the Great Spirit, having provided everything the tribes would ever need was disappointed with their childish ways. Finally, Baiame lost patience and he sent a strange Weedah or Bower Bird to speak to the tribes about the ungrateful attitudes that the tribes displayed towards their neighbors.
The people were frightened by the Weedah, there was something very different about the bird. At once he spoke, his voice sounded like thunder and the people sat down and listened to what he had to say. They were like small children listening to their parents.
" Great Spirit has given you everything you need to have a happy life and yet, you never smile and are always fighting with one another," he inclined his head and the people were amazed at his message. His feathers were dull and uninteresting and yet he was a messenger from the spirit world.
Weedah circled the land and as the people watched, curiosity soon turned to fear. Weedah was absorbing all the colors of the landscape, taking away the lush greens and browns and as he absorbed the colors, the land turned to a barren desert. As he kept circling, he changed into a Kininderie Weedah, a Rainbow Bower bird. His feathers were so beautiful they shone in the sunlight.
The people soon realized that he was no ordinary bird - he had been sent from the spirit world. They shivered with fear and waited until he spoke again.
"Baiame sent me to teach you a lesson. He has been very patient with you but you continue to fight with one another and you are ungrateful for the beautiful animals and lands that He provided for you."
" What shall we do? Now we will starve, the animals will move on to where they can find food," they huddled together waiting for an answer.
"Tribes that lose respect for one another and are ungrateful for all the wonderful gifts Baiame has given you, need to learn a lesson: Kininderie Weedah puffed himself up and showed the rainbow colors of his plumage.
"You must learn to get along with one another instead of fighting. If you work together you need not starve. Baiame taught your elders how to hunt for food and now you must learn a hard lesson. Learn to share your food, be patient and love one another; for now you are called desert nomads.
This is the legend of how the plain Bower Bird became the Rainbow Bowerbird.
|Author Notes||Photo: The Bower Bird is a native Australian and comes in many colors. Aboriginal Australians have no written language, therefore the myths and legends are handed down from the ancestors. These stories are from the time when the birds and animals were able to speak to the tribes.|
The baby Googarh, or goannas, played happily in the red desert sands - they played all day, not thinking about where their mother was. Chasing each other, nipping tails and eating honey ants. At sundown they were very hungry and they looked up at the ghost gum tree - surely he would know where their mother was.
"Have you seen our mother?" They cried in unison.
"No, but you had better climb my trunk and sleep in my branches." Gum knew the fate of their mother.
Slowly slithering along the ground, Nuraworddubununa, the carpet snake, slyly asked the ghost gum tree if he could sleep in his branches.
"No, you are too fat from feeding, you would never reach my branches "- Gum knew the snake could smell the Googarh twins.
"I suppose you're right, I am well fed today." Nuraworddubununa was asleep in seconds - his meal of goanna eggs would take him all night to digest.
Next morning as the red sun rose over the mountain tops, Gum spoke sternly to the twins:
" The snake sleeps, be careful not to wake him, he will eat you. Follow the trail of the meat-eating ants and you will find food."
The twins thanked the tree and silently slid down his trunk and slowly passed the sleeping, giant carpet snake.
"I can smell meat," one of the twins sniffed the air.
"Me, too!" I am so hungry, all we have eaten is ants and we must do what Gum told us, follow the meat-eating ants to find some food.
Soon they came upon a huge female goanna; hissing and threatening the twins not to come near her kill; never approach a goanna when they are feeding.
The Googarh twins began to cry and the female's motherly instincts began to work on her angry nature - her hissing became quieter.
"My eggs were eaten by Nuraworddubununa, the carpet snake, I am alone without my babies. Come, share my meal with me."
The twins approached her with respect and began to feed on the carcase.
"Our mother didn't come back to feed us, we too are alone." They cried tears together as the mother joined their sadness.
"Your mother was speared by a hunter, you should know that Googarh are the favourite food of the aboriginal hunters. You are too small to hunt for food, I will do the hunting and you can be my children. I will teach you the ways of the Googarh so you will not be caught by man and you will grow up not wanting for food, ever again.
Mother Googarh took the twins with her as she searched for a mate to make more eggs.
And so, the twins were adopted and were taught how to hunt for food, stay clear of the carpet snake and away from man so they would never become food for his tribe.
Googarh: goanna. A large egg-laying lizard that is a carnivore; growing to over three feet long, aggressive and fast moving across the desert. They are the favourite food of the aboriginal people who roast them on spits.
Nuraworddubununa: Beautifully patterned carpet snake, non venomous, suffocates large animals and swallows them whole. They can dislocate their jaws to accommodate animals as big as a kangaroo. They have been known (in suburbia) to swallow babies in the cot. Not a nice thought. Some small ones live in the crawl-space of homes and keep the rat population down.
Long ago beyond the mists of time - a legend was born deep in the Giraween (forests of flowers.) The story has been handed down from generation to generation. It tells of a golden tree that has a female guardian. She will grant a wish to a worthy person. The beautiful Mingga, or golden tree, shines so brightly that it lights up the surrounding forest and makes the flowers more beautiful.
The child's name has been lost over the years, his story comes down to us through legend; he is a special boy who found Mingga.
A small boy was continually taunted by his tribal members - so much so, he became mute and stayed well away from the rest of his tribe. His deformed body prevented him from joining in with his siblings; running races, hunting lizards, throwing pretend spears. And so he gave up; miserable - he sat in the dust helping to sharpen spears for the men and sealing the tips in the dying embers of the campfires - he listened to the countless stories that the elders told around the campfires. They told him about the Mingga and that no one had ever found this marvellous tree. The night brought him peace as he gazed up at the stars and watched the smoke curl upwards from the fires. The elders loved him as he was - his tormenters never came near him as he listened to the stories - they were afraid of insulting the elders.
As the years went by and the boy grew in stature, he decided to run away from the cruel taunting. He thought to himself "Mingga will make me a strong man." And so he crept out of the camp and into the forest, his dingo, only friend, followed him.
For a day and a night he hobbled painfully through the forest and away from his tribe; exhausted, he lay down to sleep. He woke as the sun rose and was alarmed at his surroundings.
The flowers and trees were not like those surrounding his home, instead the colors were bright and the trees stood like sentinels, straight and tall. Small wallaby hopped close to him without fear - overhead he watched the colored birds gliding on the thermals and singing their beautiful songs.
"What is this place?" He thought to himself.
He rose to his feet helped by the crutch that his grandfather had carved from the red gum tree. He was awed by what he saw and yet he was also frightened of his strange surroundings "surely this is magic," he took tentative steps towards a beautiful sight.
A woman floated above the ground, and she beckoned to him. She was the guardian of the Mingga.
"Don't be afraid, there is nothing to fear, come, come to me." Her voice was like the chiming of the Bell Bird across the valleys of his home.
"You have come a long way, child, I am the guardian of the Mingga. Why have you come?"
He wobbled on his makeshift crutch and found so much peace flowed from the guardian he was no longer afraid of her, his eyes were focused on the most beautiful Mingga - whose leaves shone in the morning sun.
"The elders told me about the Mingga and that wishes were granted to worthy seekers."
"Have you come to be healed?" The guardian reached out and touched his woolly cap of hair.
"No, I just wish that my tribe would stop fighting and learn to love each other. I do want to go home to my family, but they fight all the time and besides, they think that I am worth nothing."
"Because you wished, not for yourself, but for the fighting to stop and peace to come upon your tribe - I will grant that unselfish wish to you."
"Oh, thank you...I, I can walk straight?" He stood proudly and knelt at her feet.
The guardian touched his beaming face and told him: "Now, run home and find your tribe at peace."
For the first time in his young life he ran and jumped for the joy of being whole.
|Author Notes||Australian English and grammar: The story of the Mingga (golden tree) found by a disabled boy who was healed by the tree's guardian spirit. Today, crippled children are cherished (or not.) Fawned over by parents that think they can change the child - there is no need to worry about the physical appearance. The body is simply a lesson to teach able bodies; and a suitcase for the perfect soul. Thanks for reading.|
Gindee was a young man about to be initiated into manhood. He sat by the campfire and pondered the Bora ring, or initiation ceremony. As he thought about the morrow, he was both excited and fearful of his special day when he would become a fully fledged member of the tribe - he would no longer be a child.
A handsome fellow, athletic and popular with the girls, Gindee fished and hunted with aplomb - always showing off his skills to the young girls that gathered to watch his prowess with the spear and his carving of didgeridoo. He loved to hunt Bindar, the kangaroo, for fun. Around the age of sixteen, a boy becomes a man according to tribal lore.
The Bora ring is a sacred place where only men are allowed to visit, a ring of stones mark the Bora. Women are not allowed to be with their men during the ceremonies - especially the initiation of a boy. Nor, are they allowed to play the didgeridoo; special musical instrument carved from the branch of a hardwood tree, hollowed out, dried, and finally painted with symbols to protect the player.
The didgeridoo has been used for centuries - for corroboree (dance) and to call across the valleys from the mountain tops; warning of an impending attack from warring tribes. Today, the 'didge' as we call it, is mass produced for tourists - the real ones are blessed by an elder and kept within the families and handed down to the sons. A good 'didge' player can make it talk; bird songs and animal noises - it has its own range of notes - every 'didge' is different, and some can be ten feet long - according to the type of tree branch used. The 'didge' has a language understood by tribal members and has always been part of the aboriginal culture.
The day of Gindee's ceremony, he was painted by the women, white and black ash from the fires, and ochre paint, sometimes coloured red and yellow. Chipped from the multi-coloured sandstone and ground down into a paste then applied to the body of Gindee. White Ibis (bird) feathers are placed in his hair and plaited armbands and leg bands made from the reeds surrounding the billabong (water hole) that have been dried out by the women - a gift of love from his mother and sisters.
The women stay behind to cook a special meal for the men, on their return with Gindee a huge feast is enjoyed. The ceremony can take a whole day to complete. The father and uncles are the principal men involved in Bora. This ceremony is taken most seriously and will change the boy forever. He will be allowed to hunt with the men and join in the dancing at the corroboree. Children do dance at a gathering but the men dress up and their bodies are painted - they often tell the stories of the animals through their dance - jumping up and down like the Kangaroo or stalking like the Brolga (bird.) Because there is no written language - these dances tell of a good hunting day or a special warrior that has proved himself through spearing a wild boar.
Gindee was taken to the Bora Ring, once there he was instructed in the lore of the tribe and the sacredness of life - animals must only be taken for food and not for sport. His chest was scarred with a flint knife - kept open with special herbs and antiseptic leaves from the forest. These small cuts across his chest marked him as a man of the Aranda tribe.
On his return, the men danced together and Gindee danced with them as Bindar - he had been given his totem animal - Bindar the kangaroo.
As days went by he earned the respect of the menfolk because he had proved himself a wonderful hunter.
Unbeknown to the tribe, Gindee had broken a sacred rule.
"You are such a great hunter, no longer a child," said his father.
The men were amazed at the amount of wildlife the young man presented to the women, to skin and cook for the tribe.
"Where are you hunting these animals?" Father asked.
Gindee ignored his father and uncles - another type of behaviour that was not acceptable. Gindee was supposed to be instructed by his elders in bushcraft and hunting. Never show disrespect to the tribe - he was so puffed up with his own skills and laughed at tribal lore.
The men were patient with the young man and thought that he would soon learn his place in the tribe. Things got worse and Wirrinum, the wise man, decided to follow Gindee as he set out to hunt.
Wirrinum was horrified as he watched Gindee spear the animals nonchalantly and without respect, it was just a game to him. A terrible game that was played out on the sacred place where these animals were protected by Baiame, Great Spirit, Creator of all life.
Wirrinum hid in the bushes, saddened by the attack on the sacred animals. He decided to approach Baiame and ask why nothing had been done to punish Gindee.
Gindee slung two kangaroos over his shoulder and attached two water fowl to his belt - laughing to himself he muttered, "Now, who is the best hunter in the tribe?"
Great clouds began to gather and Gindee sought shelter, he was sore afraid of the voice that called his name.
"You have hunted on my sacred ground - killed animals protected by me!" Baiame threw lightning bolts and split the gum trees - Gindee was terrified.
"You have broken sacred lore and hunted in secret, now, you shall be hunted. Leave this place, you don't deserve my love and protection."
Slowly, the Willy-Willy (dust storm) surrounded Gindee and he was transformed into a Bindar (kangaroo) to be hunted by his tribe.
The lesson is - never lie and cheat and never take that which doesn't belong to you. Baiame watches all men for all time.
|Author Notes||Australian English and grammar: This is the story of a proud youth who killed the sacred animals and in turn he was punished by Baiame, Great Spirit, maker of all living things.|
High on the iron-stone cliffs of Kakadu - Arnhem land it is called by the tribes. The monsoon rains had failed to ease the drought that gripped the land and its inhabitants. The air was heavy with humidity as the giant mushroom clouds gathered. Lightning danced across the skies and dingos howled to the grey-green clouds, pregnant - and promising the beginning of the wet season.
Crocodiles hid in the mud and lowered their heartbeat to one beat every five minutes - ancient creatures; using their survival skills. Hidden in the mud, an odd eye blinked - they were still alive. Saltwater crocodiles are one of the oldest living creatures on earth.
The spring-fed billabongs were drying up. Wading birds caught the myriads of flies that hovered over the dead and dying fish. Small marsupials gathered together to drink the muddy, vermin - infested waters. The drought was slowly killing the animals. So desperate to drink, they gathered with their enemies. Water more precious than killing each other for food.
Kakadu is a wild place - full of strange and beautiful animals and thousands of brightly coloured birds. The climate is extremely hot until the monsoon rains refresh the sun-baked earth. When the wet season begins the waters race down the ironstone cliffs filling the rivers and quenching the thirst of all living creatures. The sun-baked plains are flooded and fish eggs hidden for months begin to hatch to restock the water courses.
In times of drought, birds are fortunate. They can fly to find water. The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo screeches overhead, joined by the pink and grey Galah and Black Cockatoo - normally heralding the coming rains. Snake and wombat stay underground to shelter from the oppressive heat. The aborigines shelter in their gunyah, homes made of tree branches covered with bark. They cover their bodies with mud to stop the sun burning their skin and the mosquitoes from biting them - some types of these insects carry dengue fever, common in the Northern Territory.
Dania, a beautiful girl-child of the Kakadu tribe lifted the spirits of her people by waiting on the elders. She gave whatever water she could find to the sick and dying people. Some tribal members sucked on the juices of the edible leaves and what was left of the fruits. They prayed to Baiame, Great Spirit, to send the rains to quench the thirst of Mother Earth and its inhabitants.
Dania was dearly loved by all the members of her tribe; selfless and kind to everyone - she was a treasure. Some said she was an old soul - filled with wisdom and love.
Finely boned, with long legs and a smile so wide it lit her lovely face. She brought hope to her people. With ebony curls framing her face -her laughter gathered the children to her. She wore coloured seeds threaded on fine strings of bark from the leopard tree and kangaroo skin to cover her womanhood. She liked to collect colour to decorate her hair, especially blue , orange, and yellow, from the native plants that surrounded her camp.
The camp billabong was rank with debris - fish floated to the surface, scum covered the once beautiful water lilies.
Meribah, evil spirit, fed on the misery of the people. He hated the child that gave so much to her people. His jealousy turned to rage and he thought of a way to destroy the goodness that Dania brought to the tribe.
He planted the thought in her mind. He told her that there was a child caught in the reeds of the billabong. Dania ran towards the dying billabong. Meribah chuckled as he watched Dania's long legs pumping at speed towards the muddy water. She was hoping to be in time to save the child that was drowning.
Meribah ordered the weeds to tangle around Dania's legs and pull her under the muddy water until she drowned.
The reeds were under his control and he watched as she was pulled beneath the muddy waters - never to be seen again. And yet, as her earthly goodness left her, it spread across the face of the water and the dying waters were healed. The inedible fish turned to sweet meat. In time, water birds returned to the billabong.
The tribe mourned her passing and prayed for her spirit to return to Baiame, Great Spirit, maker of all living things.
Suddenly, sheet lightning split the trees, thunder rolled across the skies and Meribah searched for a place he could hide from Baiame.
No one , not even evil spirits can hide from the wrath of the Creator.
Baiame spoke to Meribah as the sheet lightning danced across the red - dust plains.
"You have taken the life of a sweet child and because of your jealousy you will now suffer."
Meribah was sent to live in the clouds and he is the angry spirit of thunder.
Serving a purpose for good - his angry voice from the roiling clouds heralds the rains to come. Baiame had imprisoned Meribah - forever.
And so, Meribah shouted at the clouds to let loose the life-giving rains to quench the earth. The wet season had begun.
Dania's billabong (as it was called) became a healing place - the waters were sweet and blessed with her beautiful spirit - tribes came from far away just to drink the healing waters. Fish were sweet eating and the barramundi, fish, became a favourite of the aboriginal peoples.
Meribah's anger had been turned to good and Dania became known as the "Sweet Water Child".
Australian English and grammar. Photo courtesy of Bing: billabong covered with water lilies. The child brought sweet water to her tribe when she became the spirit of the billabong (water hole) see photo.
Dingo: wild dog.
Sulphur Crested Cockatoo: large cockatoo that heralds the approach of rain. Wombat: large marsupial that lives in a burrow. A cranky fellow that provides 'good tucker' for the wild tribes of the north. Tucker: food.
I hope you enjoy this story of the triumph of good over evil.
Pointing the bone is a practice not used today because of its dire consequences. Way back in the days of tribal magic, pointing the bone at an enemy meant that the intended victim of the Shaman was bound to die.
Back in the 1930's there was a well documented case of a white man being sung to death by aboriginal magic. The Shaman was much like a witch doctor, feared by all the tribal members. The leg bone of a small marsupial, such as a wallaby (small kangaroo) or even a large leg bone of an adult kangaroo that had been specially treated with magic spells, was used to point at the intended victim.
The white man stole the wife of a tribal member and the husband paid the Shaman to cast the death spell on him - the white man laughed at the spell and as the chanting began...he fell ill and was dead within six months.
Fear of having the bone pointed at you was part of the spell cast. Being white, the man who stole the aboriginal's wife; thought himself immune. Do we believe in magic? The tribes in those days were terrified of the Shaman (sorcerer.)
Tribal aboriginals hunt and fish their sacred lands in the Northern Territory of Australia. It has taken many years for the white man to hand back their tribal lands and finally say "Sorry."
The First Australians cared for the land and its animals. Animals were only killed for food and before the animal (mostly kangaroo) was speared to death - it was asked by the hunter to give up its spirit. Much like the American Indians, ceremonies were common.
Most cultures (except whites) have sorcerers or witch doctors. Going back 3,000 years to the time of the Egyptians - it was common practice for the Pharaoh to consult the court magician on matters that pertained to the safety of the court or the telling of fortunes. If we look back at the time of Moses, he was asking Pharaoh to let his people go - Moses turned his staff into a snake.
BONE MAGIC : -
The house of horrors sat arrogantly on a hill above the baanya (camp) of the Bindaloo tribe. The mighty Murray River snaked its way past the camp as the tribe fished it's waters for barramundi (large fish.)
The days of tranquil living on their own sacred land was over; white men had taken control of the tribes and made them slaves.
The Rev. John McLeod sat on his wide verandas sipping his wine and watching the black women washing white-man's clothes in the river. Aboriginal people wore no clothes in those days - women covered their nakedness with kangaroo pelts; purely as a gesture of modesty. The men wore nothing except a plaid belt to carry flint knives, boomerangs (throwing sticks) - or to attach dead game to the belt.
When the whites invaded our country, the blacks were trusting just like little children; cruel and arrogant slave masters soon changed our peoples' way of life. They were made to wear white man's clothing which soon chafed their perfect skin. The whites needed hats and long pants to work in the fields because they were not used to our intense sunlight that virtually cooked their skin. Blacks never saw the need for such frivolity and grinned at the white man. Shoes were provided, causing blisters to the feet. Aboriginals never wore shoes. Finally, the shoes were thrown away because they hindered their ability to work in the vegetable gardens for the white man. Even today, the blacks of the Northern Territory have bare feet - calloused from walking and hunting their lands. Custom made shoes that never wear out!
The Rev. John McLeod was a hypocrite. He taught the children and young people of the Bindaloo tribe how to worship a man on a cross - thinking them savages that had to be brought to Jesus. If anything, the people were more spiritual in their own ways of worship. They looked to Baiame, Great Spirit, for guidance - every living animal and tree was sacred to them. Whilst hunting kangaroo - they would ask the kangaroo to give up it's spirit because they needed the meat to feed their family. They never killed for fun. They took only what they needed.
On the other hand, the whites took everything, pretending that they had the right to kill man or beast. Every day the men from the Bindaloo tribe were chained together and marched out to the fields. They were made to hoe the fields for the planting of vegetables to feed the whites.
At harvest time, the men were harnessed to carts and used like donkeys to bring the vegetables back to McLeod's home.
The children were separated from their mothers and made attend school. McLeod thought them stupid - he tried in vain to teach them English. The tribe was far more advanced in caring for the land and at that time there were 10,000 dialects around Australia of the Aboriginal tongue. Still, they waited for their freedom. They knew the power of the 'fire-stick' - rifles that the overseers carried.
One night, right on sundown, McLeod got it into his head to go and pick a ripe peach (as he called the young women) he was drunk as a skunk.
He stumbled down the hill to where the women were cooking dinner. Pointing his rifle at a beautiful woman - he said "You! Come here - you black bitch."
The older women wailed and the men stared in horror, they were unable to stop the 'Boss - Cocky.' His rifle was loaded.
Maraboo, wife of Bindar, stepped forward, she knew what the enraged white man wanted.
The Rev. John McLeod dragged Maraboo by the hair, screaming obscenities at him in pigeon English; she had no choice - she had to accept her fate - rape was on his menu this night.
After McLeod had his fun with Maraboo he slapped her silly and kicked her down the front stairs. She half-hobbled, half - staggered down to her people. Her lip split and her body bruised, cracked ribs crunched every time she moved.
Bindar (husband of Maraboo) was livid when he saw his young wife. She was being nursed by the women and her pain was terrible.
Bindar approached Wurrung, wise-man and sorcerer. He took fresh meat and lay it in front of Wurrung's gunyah (lean-to home) then he sat and waited.
The carcase of a freshly killed kangaroo was payment for a bone - pointing spell. Still Bindar waited. The old sorcerer was slow to move and yet he was lightning fast in bringing enemies down with his powerful spells.
Eventually, Wurrung dragged the carcase into his gunyah.
"Who do you want made dead to this world, Bindar?" Wurrung coughed and spat.
"White man rape my wife - he must die!"
That night the men danced a death dance for the boss man that raped Maraboo and for the cruelty heaped upon their tribe.
McLeod listened to the chanting coming from the camp below his house. He stood up and watched the flames from their fire light the night sky.
Picking up his rifle he made his way slowly down the hill towards the corroboree. Even though he was the boss man of the slaves - he was hesitant to go any closer to the group that were dancing around the ring of stones - the men's blood was up and their faces showed much anger.
Suddenly, McLeod was grabbed from behind and relieved of his rifle. The men marched him towards Wurrung the sorcerer. Wurrung was dressed in a full length kangaroo pelt that hung from his shoulders to the ground. His frail body was painted with symbols of his position as tribal elder and medicine man.
The chanting grew to fever pitch as two men held McLeod in the middle of the stone circle.
In halting English Wurrung spoke to the condemned man:
"You have raped Maraboo, wife of Bindar. Now you must pay for the sins that you have committed." Wurrung's eyes glinted in the fire light as he pointed the enchanted bone at McLeod.
"You silly old fool, do you think that you can hurt me with your childish ways?"
Within six months, Rev. John McLeod was dead. He fell into a coma and no white doctor had any idea what was wrong with the man.
Aboriginal lore is ancient. Even today the elders teach strict lessons for those who break their lore. Rev. John McLeod deserved what he got!
|Author Notes||Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.Pointing the bone to kill someone is banned by the elders. As is spearing an enemy to death. Instead, a man that breaks sacred rules is still speared in the leg - a token death. I have woven this story around an event that actually happened.|
The Jacarei tribe camped by the Hawkesbury River where they fished for bream and flathead. The women sang tribal songs as they slapped kangaroo skins on the sandstone rocks to soften the skins. The men always fished the sacred river; they used flint knives to prise the succulent oysters from the rocks. Some men hunted in the forests surrounding their baanya, camp. The children played in the rock pools, hunting water-spiders and small blue-swimmer crabs. The Jacarei tribe were a selfish people always fighting with other tribes over food or weapons.
Dania and Fraini, ten-year old friends, loved to swing back and forth on the old tree down by the river - Dania's older brother Cangai, had plaited some vines with which he made a strong rope for the children to swing out over the cool waters. Laughing and splashing the other children of the tribe. The Jumpin-pin water-hole was the children's favourite place to swim.
Dania shouted to the other children to stop their noise and look up to the diving rock across the river.
"Who is that man?" Dania asked her friends.
"Stranger come to our baanya," Fraini beckoned to the children to leave the water.
"We must go back and tell father about the strange man standing on one leg,"said Dania.
The stranger continued to stand on one leg with his other foot clamped to his calf-muscle. He supported his weight with a beautifully carved spear.
His ebony skin shone like polished obsidian; tall and well muscled with tattoos - his curly hair pulled back behind his ears trickled down his back.
"Father! There is a strange man standing on the diving rock at Jumpin-pin. We were frightened so we came home to tell you - the stranger stands on one leg!"
"Ah, the old man shook his head, "he is a warrior from another tribe. Did he speak to you?"
All the children shook their heads and waited for the old man to tell them what to do.
"We will all go down to the river and see this stranger - then we will know what he wants from our tribal lands."
The stranger was still standing on one leg when the whole Jacarei tribe arrived at the river. Permission must be sought from an elder if a stranger wants to cross another tribe's land or hunt game.
As the tribe sat quietly watching the stranger; he moved like greased lightning, diving into the river, swimming easily to the shore where the people waited for him to speak.
Masan, camp elder, stood facing the stranger, who was now sitting cross-legged in the sand.
"Who are you and what do you want from our tribe?"
"I have come a long way. I just need a place to camp and it has been a long time since I saw other people - I am lonely," said the tall stranger as he lay his beautifully carved spear at Masan's feet.
"A gift for you, may I share your camp for a while?" He smiled at Masan who was taken aback by the beautiful gift.
Masan's eyes glittered with selfish thoughts of owning the most beautiful spear ever seen in the camp,"Of course, please come and share our fire; our women will bring you food."
"Thank you, I have no need of food, I will make my camp away from your fire."
The stranger's behaviour had the tribe puzzled - he didn't want to share their fire and he had refused their offer of food.
Masan discussed the stranger with the other tribal members and they decided to leave the man to his own devices.
"He seems harmless," said Masan.
"Maybe he is a wise-man?" said another brother.
The days turned into weeks and the stranger talked only to the children who were fascinated with his work.
Every day the stranger made trips to the forest and came back with bundles of long sticks and reeds from the river. He selected two spears, a basket, and a boomerang, to make a complete set for hunting. He toiled daily and stacked the bundles near his sleeping mat.
The children asked him why he made so many spears. They were curious when they saw him carve beautiful native animals on to the boomerangs and paint the spears with ochre. Then he hardened the tips of the spears with sap from the trees and hot embers from the fire. After this, he bound the tips with string from the Stringybark tree. He made bundles of twenty and gave them as gifts to the tribe. After this he walked away and slept.
When he had rested, children gathered around him to ask more questions about the gifts to the tribe.
"Why do you make so many spears and boomerangs?" Dania asked him.
"Because I am selfish, I do not do this for your tribe - I do this for myself."
"How can this be?" The Jacarei tribe were puzzled.
"Because I always feel my best when I make someone else happy. So, you see I make those gifts to please myself. You should try it - you will enjoy the feeling." He gathered his bundle and walked into the forest - blending with the trees. Of course he was a spirit teacher sent to teach the tribe how to be happy through making and giving gifts to others, instead of being selfish an fighting with other people.
The way we give to others is through unconditional love - we do not ask for gifts in return. It does make us feel good to give a gift and see the smile on that person's face. Better still, give a gift without your name on it. You will be rewarded for your loving heart.
|Author Notes||A stranger comes to the camp of the Jacarei people; seeking a place to camp and companionship. He is not what he appears to be. He is a spirit teacher come to teach the tribe a lesson in giving. Bream and flathead are common-eating fish in Oz. We are a nation of fishermen!|
The Morawa tribe lived on the banks of the Warrawee River - the river was just a trickle as drought seized the land and squeezed every drop of water from the river and the billabongs.
Three children, two boys and one girl, were anxiously waiting for the tribal elders to make a decision whether to stay beside the dwindling river or move to the coastal plains.
The koolyangara (children) - Twee, Barcoo, and Marcoola, were great friends that played together in the sparkling waters of the camp billabong. The drought had sucked the waters from their swimming hole and the children were restless and wanting to move to a wet area away from the drought-stricken plains of the inland.
The tribal elder known as Mulloway stood tall on a sandstone rock above the Morawa camp. At night the crackling fire lit the hopeful faces of the tribe as they sat and waited for Mulloway to speak about the current situation. Drought was killing the animals that the tribe relied on for food. The women dug the barren ground for yams (sweet potato) and fallen tree trunks bore fat white grubs called Witchetty grubs - a delicacy eaten live or roasted on the coals of the fires. These were meagre offerings to feed the people. The situation was growing desperate.
Mulloway raised his arms in the fire light - he called to his people to listen to his words.
"I have made a decision about our future, to stay here is to face certain death. Even if the rains come now, we will not survive without the animals and clean water. It is my decision to break camp and move to the coastal plains where there is abundant water and food. Tomorrow the long walk begins."
Bursting with excitement, the three Koolyangara (children) couldn't sleep that night, they talked about the coast and the sea that they had never seen but had heard about in the dreamtime stories. Being an inland tribe they had no knowledge of the coastline and the animals that lived there. Mulloway had spent some of his youth on the coast and was able to describe the lifestyle to his people.
"I was a young man when I fished in the big billabong; turtle, dugong, sea snake and shark were all fish to be hunted. The sea is blue as the skies and the land called sand - the colour of the bark of the leopard tree. Cream in colour and the sand crunches underfoot.
There are so many beautiful birds with vivid colours. The birds here are dull compared with the coastal birds.
It will take us at least three days walking and we must be mindful of the sick and elderly." Mulloway smiled benevolently at the old people who had never left their tribal hunting grounds and were fearful of moving away from the only home they had known.
Next day at sunrise, litters were made from saplings and strapped together with vines - these were to carry the sick and the old folks that couldn't walk.
The women dug as many tubers (sweet potato) as they could and filled their dilly bags for the long journey. The young men hunted what game they could kill - some wallaby and porcupine. Nothing is ever wasted in the killing and eating of bush tucker - the quills from the porcupine are used for needles to sew animal skins together. The young girls gathered seeds and berries for the tribe's medicine chest. All manner of ailments can be treated by using bush medicine.
The Koolyangara were too excited to wait for the rest of the tribe and so they set off by themselves along the track they thought would take them to the coast and the 'big billabong.'
Mulloway missed the children by the time the clan was ready to start their journey and so he sent a young hunter called Jacqueirie after the children. The children hadn't gotten very far before they realised they were totally lost.
"You are in big trouble," Jacqueirie called to the children.
"We are looking for the big billabong," said Marcoola.
Jacqueirie crossed his arms across his broad, brown chest.
"Morawa is angry with you for leaving the camp - we are waiting for you so we can all leave for the coast together.
After returning to the baanya (camp) the tribe assembled ready to set off on the three day walk to the coast. mulloway spoke sternly to the children - "never go off by yourselves again, why, you could have been lost forever," covering his face that was smiling.
The first day's walk was uneventful, the clan camped by sandstone cliffs and built up a big fire to keep the dingo (wild dog) away. The dingo were feeling the effects of the drought too; they would not attack if the fire was kept burning all night.
The third day showed the changes in their surroundings, the ground had turned to sand and the tribe's bare feet crunched on the silica - in the sand. The tribe was amazed at the multi-coloured birds that circled the rainforest canopy. Kangaroo were not so prevalent but small animals like wallaby - we call them Paddy Melons, were.
The tribe were exhausted from their long walk and after they found a clean, clear billabong, they settled down to rest and sleep the night.
The three Koolyangara were also tired but too excited to sleep and so they sneaked off down a sandy path that led to the cliff tops.
"Oh, look at the big billabong," said Marcoola.
"We are the first to find it," said Barcoo. Twee just giggled at her friends. They took hold of each other's hands and stood on the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean.
They had always jumped together into the billabong - today seemed no different to them. They had no idea of the danger of the drop to the ocean and how deep the sea would be.
They jumped together and soon realised after hitting the ocean, this was no gentle billabong. The waves pulled them this way and that - they were not strong enough to swim against the tide. Wave after wave pulled them under and they began to drown.
The sea spirit, Boomali, had been waiting in his sea-cave when he heard the children's cries for help. He rocketed to the surface and grabbled hold of the three drowning children.
Boomali had to think quickly; save them all for the ocean or let them die to the land. He thought of another way he could save their lives - of course they would never see their kin again and they would be sad, it might just work - Boomali decided to change them into dolphin to swim the oceans forever.
The lesson for the Koolyangara, children, always listen to your elders even if you don't agree with them - adults do know best. When you see three dolphin jump together, think of Twee, Barcoo and Marcoola.
|Author Notes||Three Koolyangara (children) disobey their parents and are nearly drowned at sea. The sea spirit, Boomali heard their cries and rescued them by turning them into dolphins - never again would they see their tribe. They would swim together in the ocean as dolphins.|
A long time ago when legends were being made, a beautiful tribe lived on the edge of (what is now called) the Simpson Desert, where the wind blows without ceasing and the birds fly backwards - the Brinjal tribe hunted for enough food to keep them fed from day to day. The men hunted wild pig, kangaroo, wallaby, emu; women dug out various snakes to cook and root vegetables, like Yam (sweet potato) these were the staples of their diet. The Brinjal tribe were a kind and peaceful people, willing to share what meagre food they had with surrounding tribes - even inviting them to hunt on their land.
Some tribes took advantage of the kindness of the Brinjal people, taking more than they were entitled too.
"They are weak," said Mesta who was head man of the Kantilla tribe. Mesta was a cruel man, selfish and hungry for anything he could add to his cache of stolen belongings.
Mesta and his mob hunted so much on Brinjal land that the game grew scarce and the Brinjal mob were on the point of starvation. Baraga, head man of the Brinjal tribe, called a meeting. "We must ask the Kantilla tribe for some food - they have taken most of our animals and now they must repay the kindness shown them. Sharpen your spears and be ready to walk to their camp," said Baraga.
The Brinjal men walked some miles outside of their own land to find the Kantilla camp. Old man crow and his mob circled overhead, this was a sign there was food to be had - crows are scavengers and love meat. The camp was empty except for the women and children - Baraga watched the women skin the kangaroo and he pointed to the live animals tied up ready to be slaughtered for food.
"Women! Where are your men?" said Baraga angrily - he was so shocked at the sight of live animals waiting to be slaughtered. Aboriginal people only take what they need to survive and they always thank the animal for giving it's life to feed the tribe.
One woman laughed through toothless gums - "They gone hunting - more food to trade."
"Trade?" Baraga realised that the Kantilla tribe was trading the animals from Brinjal land for goods from other tribes that needed meat.
With heavy hearts and heads hung low, the men shuffled towards their home land.
As they reached the outskirts of their camp, they saw the Kantilla tribe laden down with game from places beyond Brinjal lands. They carried kangaroo on their shoulders, birds were hung on their belts and some wild goats were tethered nearby.
Baraga raised his arm and shouted to Mesta.
"You have abused our kindness and now we have no meat to feed our people. When are you going to repay your debt to us?" Bargara was so angry with the Kantilla people, he spat in the dry dust.
The Kantilla tribe started laughing - especially their leader Mesta. He walked towards Bargara and poked him in the chest.
"You silly old fool, did you think we would return your favour? Your people are weak and now you will starve - maybe find a snake in the tree to eat?" This comment made the Kantilla men laugh harder.
This ungrateful attitude so saddened the hungry brinjal mob that once they had reached their own lands they sat down and wept.
Baiame, Great Spirit, maker of all life, watched on and he was so saddened by the weeping of his beautiful, and kind Brinjal tribe that he decided to change his own law of not interfering in tribal ways. And so he let the tribe cry until they could cry no more.
Great Spirit then added to their tears by creating a special billabong with salt water - salt from their tears and water for the fish to swim in.
The tribe watched as the water rose and lapped their knees; never having seen fish - they ran as fast as they could to escape the silver devils flapping around them.
Baiame laughed at his children and sent a mighty water spout high into the air.
"What is this devilment?" said Bargara. The tribe hid behind the mighty red gum trees - ready to flee at any given moment.
A bolt of lightning from the clear blue sky struck the lake and the voice of Baiame was heard as the rainbow arced across the lake - now alive with all kinds of fish.
The elders realised that Baiame, Great Spirit, had made the lake for them. The tribe went down on their knees to thank the Creator.
"We thank you for your gift, but we don't know what the silver animals are?"
"You will never go hungry again - the fish will feed you, forever. Don't be afraid of other tribes taking your fish - firstly, they will not be able to see them, only you can see the fish and because the Kantilla tribe took your food and treated you so badly, I will banish them to the deserts. As for their wicked leader - Mesta, who kept my animals tied up to slaughter and trade...this act has so enraged me that Mesta will crawl on his belly in the desert as a serpent. His tribe will wander the deserts searching for food - they will always be hungry.
One good turn must deserve another and when someone uses you and your good nature, it is he or she that will suffer in the long run because Great Spirit sees all. By giving all that we have, we heap coals on the head of the selfish people that take advantage of our nature. So, in the end, selfish and cruel people never win, it may seem that they do, but they will always be hungry and discontented with their life."
Australian English and grammar -Thanks to Bing for the recent photo of a 'Barramundi' (large fish) most prized in Australia. Baiame, Great Spirit, rewarded the Brinjal tribe with a magic, fishing billabong - only the Brinjal tribe could fish the waters and see the fish. The greedy tribes that abused the brinjal generosity were punished by Baiame - hunger forced them to leave the desert country and find new hunting grounds. While the Brinjal tribe continued to prosper through the wonderful fish found in the magic billabong.
Throughout the mists of creation - Baiame, Great Spirit, maker of all things, had decided to light the skies with beautiful rainbows. When he sent the rains to quench the parched earth - a rainbow was born. Some were small rainbows in the mist above streams and some rose high in the skies to let the tribes know that he loved them and wanted them to see all the colours. A reminder to the tribes that he was a loving Creator.
The beautiful rainbow, controlled by the Rainbow Serpent, arced the skies with many colours, signifying the pact between Great Spirit and Yalunga, The Rainbow Serpent. Yalunga lived beneath the earth in a deep red lake. Yalunga's baanya, or camp, unlike any other, is deep within the lake itself. He can only come to the surface when the rains come, if he emerges during the dry, he will lose all his beautiful colours.
Yalunga opened his large eye and listened to the dripping water in his cave. Emerging from the red lake, sloughing off his old skin, he grinned at his beautiful colours. Diamond patterns filled with every colour of the rainbow that he, only he, could create for the tribes that lived on the desert plains of the Northern Territory.
"Hmm...I can hear the rain and the sounds of children playing in the billabong. Maybe I can catch me a fine, fat, dinner," Yalunga's forked tongue licked his wide lips. Slithering out of the red lake and making his way slowly towards the red dust plains, he listened to the children.
Karangi and Buranda were brothers from the Aranda tribe - both boys had disobeyed their parents and slipped away from their baanya to go in search of witchetty grubs - a treat found in the bark of the trees.
Yalunga's large head popped out into the pouring rain on the plains. As he rose up he created a large rainbow across the river. The boys were oblivious of the danger as Yalunga slithered towards them.
Karangi gasped as he saw the huge serpent grinning at him.
"Run!" Karangi pulled his little brother towards him and away from the beast.
Yalunga's deep voice reverberated around the high cliffs and could be heard above the rush of the waterfalls.
"Wait, I won't hurt you, I just want to talk to you," a sly grin came across his lips.
"No, you eat children," said Buranda.
Yalunga realised how lonely he was living in his red lake. He was hungry as he had just come out of a very long hibernation. Still, his loneliness had overcome his taste for children.
"I promise that I won't eat you, instead I will show you how I paint the skies. I am an old serpent now, I wish to sleep in the arms of Baiame."
The boys walked towards Yalunga without fear, seeing the tears in his great eyes.
"How old are you? Oh, great Yalunga," said Karangi.
"I think I am ten thousand years old; from the beginning of the earth I came - before the sky was lit and the stars in the heavens. I committed an offence by eating one of the first of your tribe. Baiame, Great Spirit, he punished me; told me I could stay beneath the earth forever or be useful and paint the skies with colours - rainbow colours during the rainy season. Of course I said I would paint the skies!"
"Are you serpent or spirit?" The boys asked the old Yalunga.
"I was a serpent as you know my clan. Baiame changed my form to one of spirit. I am a shape-shifter and can take any form for good deeds. Watch and learn, children." Yalunga stood on his great tail and he became a ghost gum tree, speaking from a great height as his leaves looked down at the children.
"I must hurry, I can only exist in the rain." Yalunga came down to the flowing waterfall and created beautiful, crystal, colours for the boys to wonder at.
"Thank you, dear Yalunga - tonight we will dance for you," said the boys.
Yalunga had tears in his old eyes as he curled up in a large cave above the waterfall.
"Thank you dear children, I must sleep now, the cave will protect my colours from the sunlight until it rains again."
As the boys watched Yalunga and heard him snoring, his colours turned to muddy-brown. Still the rainbow arced the skies.
A deep voice spoke to the children and they were frightened. The voice came from the mountains, hills, plains, and skies.
"You must return to your baanya, your family search for you - they know the Rainbow Serpent will eat you!" Great Spirit smiled to himself.
"Oh, Great Spirit we meant no harm and Yalunga said he wouldn't eat us. He is very old and wants to come to you and find his dreaming forever."
Baiame thought about Yalunga and he decided it was time for the old serpent to come home.
"Watch Yalunga, you naughty boys from the Aranda tribe," Baiame gathered the sleeping form of Yalunga in his arms as the sun broke the clouds. In Yalunga's place, a small diamond-backed, rock-python slithered away to find cover.
"We must go home now, brother. Tonight we will tell our people about Yalunga and call the elders to gather for a special dance to honour the Rainbow Serpent that sleeps in the arms of Baiame, Great Spirit." The boys ran down the dirt track towards their baanya.
Yalunga slept in the mountains - he slept the sleep of the dead. However, his form is always visible during the rains - he colours the skies for all to see.
Australian regional English. Thanks to Bing for the beautiful dot painting of the aboriginal legend - 'Rainbow Serpent.'The legend of Yalunga, The Rainbow Serpent is found in every aboriginal tribe in Australia. It is said that Yalunga helped make the rivers as he slithered across the lands during the wet season.
Baiame: Great Spirit, maker of all living things.
Baanya: Tribal campsite.
Sister Moon kissed brother Sun as he rose to light a new day. The call of the Whip bird awakened the Jandawarra tribe. They rubbed sleep from their eyes and slowly started to pack their belongings. Today was the day to move to a new camp, and new billabong.
The elders had decided that the tribe must seek another campsite close to water - the long winter drought had sent the animals away from the dying billabong and the tribe had to trek miles to find game to hunt. The water level in the old billabong was low and the water brackish.
Men, women and children busied themselves packing up their small bundles of hand-made belongings. Essential digging tools, used for finding Kumara, sweet potato - tubers, found underground. The women's digging sticks were also used for scraping out witchetty grubs living in the bark of trees.
The grubs are a delicacy toasted over the fire or popped in the mouth -- eaten whole. Forked sticks are used for catching snakes. Snake is popular, roasted over the fire -- tastes like chicken.
The men bundled their spears including their woomera, and boomerang, wrapped them in kangaroo skins and slung them over their shoulders.
The youngest boy and girl twins, Mararee and Kirrawee were excited to be moving to a new home. They were the most favoured twins in the tribe. Twins were special - revered by families.
Kookaburra laughed at the people scurrying around below his perch in the ghost gum tree. He could fly to find water -- unlike the humans who relied on the billabong. Still, pickings had been lean since the old billabong had almost dried up. Snakes, and small marsupials were not so abundant now. Kookaburra thought he just might follow the Jandawarra tribe, they were happy people and he liked laughing at the children's antics.
As the sun rose high in the sky, the tribe arrived at the new billabong. The journey had been long and arduous - litters carried the old people. Men had made them from saplings and Kangaroo skins lashed together.
The children laughed and splashed water at each other, dove and beckoned to their parents to follow them -- time would tell how long this campsite would suit the Jandawarra tribe. The new billabong was dark and deep. Alive with fish and water-snakes. Water-fowl with their broad feet walked the lily-pads.
The billabong is a great source of food for the people; wading birds walking on huge lily pads, roots of the lilies are used for weaving baskets; dilly-bags are used by the women to collect their kumara to roast over the fire; sometimes ground to a paste to make a type of bread. The cool, clean waters attract a multitude of animals such as wallaby, kangaroo, native birds and the wild dog called Dingo; coming to drink in the cool of the evening.
"Ah, this is a nice tree," cackled Kookaburra "many juicy snakes and mice for me to eat, I see a good life here."
Game was plentiful and every animal came to drink from the cool, green waters. Whilst the men were hunting, the women dug for kumara or waded into the water to gather reeds for plaiting. The children played games amongst the lily pads. Life was good until Kurria arrived.
Kurria was a huge salt-water crocodile that decided to take up residence in the billabong. All sorts of measures were taken to try and scare him away. He was much too clever to be caught and so the men tried to scare the animals away so he would move on - they reasoned, with no food, Kurria would leave them in peace. The animals wouldn't leave the billabong and men couldn't catch Kurria. The tribe was in trouble. Kurria controlled both the tribe and the hunting grounds. He wasn't about to leave his source of food.
Jandawarra elders told the children they must stay away from the billabong. Still, children will be children, sneaking a look at Kurria wouldn't hurt. All the children were horrified at the size of the giant crocodile and scared enough to stay out of the water - all, that is, except the twins.
Mararee and Kirrawee had decided to pay back Kurria for taking their fun away, not being able to swim in the billabong. They watched as he slept in the sun and ran to the other side of the waters, splashing and calling out. Kurria was old and didn't care much for children's games - he slept on with one eye open.
Still, the twins didn't give up teasing the old crocodile, running to the water's edge and then jumping out of Kurria's way. The old man crocodile had had enough of their teasing - he used to be the fastest crocodile at catching game, now he was laughed at and losing his self-esteem!
"Watcha think you doing?" Kurria opened his large toothless jaws at the twins.
"You too old to catch us kids," the twins replied.
Kurria had had enough of the teasing, he slowly crept out of the beautiful billabong and waddled away to find another place where he would find peace in his old age - no one to tease him and he could spend his days fishing and sleeping.
The twins had been cruel to tease old-man Kurria and what they didn't know, every bad deed has a payback. They had disobeyed the elders and been cruel to an animal.
Jayawah, the water-spirit, had been watching them for a long time, in the hope they would leave Kurria alone. Now, he realised that they wouldn't change their selfish ways and so he intervened - it would be a terrible lesson for the youngsters.
The twins ran to the cool waters to splash and play, they had no fear now that Kurria had left.
Jayawah had turned himself into the old-man crocodile. The children thought it was Kurria returning. They were unaware that it was a water-spirit. Jayawah swam towards them; trying to flee to the bank of the billabong - the twins, frozen with fear and unable to move, Jayawah swallowed them both.
The tribe looked for the twins and mourned their loss. Throwing ashes from the cold fires upon their heads as a sign of loss. The twins were never found and eventually, the tribe moved on.
Jayawah kept the twins in his belly for so long, when he finally released them, their people had grown old and forgotten the children.
"Don't you know us? We are Mararee and Kirrawee." They had finally found their long-lost tribe.
The tribe had grown old and long forgotten the children, they drove the twins away. The twins remained lost and alone. The rest of their lives were spent teaching children who visited their camp to obey their elders and show respect to all animals.
Australian regional dialect. The billabong is a water-hole usually teeming with small fish, water snake, never crocodiles! The lesson taught to the twins by Jayawah is relevant today - never tease animals they will, one day come back and collect their dues.
Boomerang: usually made from hardwood - to throw at game or use for fun, thrown properly, the shape of the boomerang will return it to the thrower!
Woomera: attached to a spear, will increase the distance of the spears travel.
The lesson spirit teaches for all men - never tease animals and show respect to all living creatures.
"According to Aboriginal legend, humans were created and needed a place to live, the mighty god Beiral sent his messenger Yendingie with the goddess K'gari down from heaven to create the land and the mountains, rivers and sea.
K'gari fell in love with the earth's beauty and did not want to leave it. So, Yendingie changed her into a heavenly island - Fraser Island." Wikipedia.
Leaden clouds rolled towards K'gari, threatening rain. Wind whipped white sand and bent sea-grasses low. Still, the tourists raced along the pristine beach with their four-wheel drives, tearing up K'gari face.
Old man Dingo rested his shaggy head on his paws -- well out of reach of crazy humans. The seething mass of protoplasm, called humans, had taken his homeland.
Kirree sighed as he watched his beach torn apart by metal boxes; not knowing what they were. He did know the terrible noise and smells of petrol and diesel.
Some times he wandered the human campsites feeding on food thrown to him by tourists. The smell of meat cooking was enough to entice a pack of Dingos. He was sick of foraging for insects and small animals. Handouts from humans at least filled his belly. His pack had become bolder around tourists and in the last three months two human children had been killed by his pack.
Small children had been easy prey to pack Dingo; starving animals will attack for food. Of course, the penalty was death. Rangers hunted the dogs responsible and shot them. According to white-man's law, if a dog attacked a human then he was a dead dog.
Kirree lifted his old head and sneezed.
"I smell you little ones," he panted.
"Grandfather, we are hungry," the pups squeaked at old man Dingo.
"You pups always hungry. How about I tell you a story?" Kirree rose and stretched his arthritic limbs. "About the time when our mob roamed free and plenty tucker on K'gari."
The pups looked wide-eyed at their grandfather. They settled down, listening intently as Kirree began to tell of the Dingo Dreamtime.
"Long time ago when Great Spirit made K'gari, He made all the tribes like the Badtjala people, covered the island with good tucker like Kangaroo, Emu, Wombat and lots of things, I can't remember now, even brumbies ran wild," the old Dingo's eyes misted over with thoughts of the past when their bellies were fat and they were content.
"We get along fine with Badtjala mob, Dingo come to camps and stay with Badtjala -- camp dogs they were called. People loved Dingo ancestors and fed them in bad times." A tear rolled down his grey muzzle.
The pups had become bored with the old dog's ramblings and decided to go play with the rest of their mob. Kirree slept through the noise of the tourists and he dreamed of the old days when he was a camp dog. The tribe would go out hunting wild brumbies and kangaroos and he would trot behind the men. Of course these were just stories passed down to him of the dreamtime. He wasn't old enough to be an ancestor. He was just a Dingo Elder.
The sound of white men woke Kirree as they stumbled through the underbrush.
"Hey, you see that old dog laying there?" said one Ranger.
"Don't worry about him, he's got no teeth and he's ready for the graveyard," the second Ranger roared with laughter.
"Bloody tourists need to keep a leash on their kids, now we out searching for another one." The men stumbled on towards Lake Mackenzie (Boorangoora) and the Champagne Pools( Moora Buthu)
The cool, clear waters of the fresh water lake, had sustained the native animals and Indigenous tribes since the beginning of time. The Badtjala tribe used to bring their children to swim and frolic in her waters. No more. The white settlers had taken the land and all the clear lakes - what was left of the Badtjala tribe had been scattered to the four winds. Some men had left the island in chains and the women had become housemaids for the white boss-men.
After the brumbies were shipped over to the mainland, the Dingo had no real meat except kangaroo and small marsupials. They became too lean and mean towards the white tourists. The tourists still think they are just dogs and try to coax them like you would coax a domestic dog. Terrible stories of visitors being savaged by the Dingo or, as said previously, two children were killed by the starving dogs.
The Dingo population is dwindling and there doesn't seem to be any answers to their future. Locally, near to where I live, there is a Wildlife Sanctuary. The owners have just bred a white Dingo and it seems the only way to preserve these animals is to keep them safe from humans.
Tourists come to Fraser (K'gari) for its beauty. Lake Wabby (Boomanjin)is a traditional men's business area. Used for the initiation and ceremony sacred to men. Court documents talk about many sightings of bora rings in this area. Within 100 years this area will be gone.
Coloured sands: There are 72 coloured sands for women's business area. The clan responsible for childbirth were taken to this rock by elder women. Taught the skills, which they then passed on to the other women in the Butchulla tribe. I am proud to have a friend from that tribe.
The Butchulla people had six different clan on K'gari and her people occupied the area called Central Station. Woonamutta was the "clever man" of the tribe, his family were involved in doctoring and initiation. Woonamutta (Jack Noble) was the black tracker who hunted down one of our most famous bush rangers, Ned Kelly. He was present at Kelly's capture in 1880. Woonamutta returned to Fraser Island (Butchulla country) where he resumed his traditional way of life, fishing, gathering and hunting lifestyle.
Wanggoolba Creek (Central Station) was a Butchulla women's area where birthing took place. Men were excluded. This area became the site for forestry and logging operations from 1920 until the late fifties.
Takky Wooroo (Indian Head) where tears were shed by the Butchulla people when the massacre took place and still today, the people weep for their ancestors.
Captain Cook (good old white fella', sent by King George 111) to take whatever land he could steal.) Dat good old white fella' landed on K'gari in 1770. He sighted the Butchulla people, offering trinkets to the tribe. The tribe stood on the foreshore, frightened by the sight of Cook and his crew. Little did the Butchulla people know what was to be their fate at the hands of the white men.
The white men took the strongest blacks for work groups and they were chained together. The rest of the tribe, old people, women and children were marched to the rocky outcrop, called Takky Wooroo (Indian Heads) and forced to jump into the sea.
Takky Wooroo (Indian Heads) remains a most sacred place for the Butchulla tribe. In 2014 Fraser Island was handed back to the various tribes.Today, plans are being made to keep tourists off the rocky outcrop. To protect the most spiritual place where their ancestors perished.
Kirree yawned, stood up, and shook sand off his mangy coat. Looking around, he wondered where he was?
"C'mon, old fella, tucker time." Wildlife Ranger John called to Kirree.
"Must have been dreamin' thought I was home on K'gari, never mind, tucker pretty good this place. Wildlife Sanctuary, no worries, nice bed and that female over there...she nice young Dingo. My pups drive me bonkers!"
The Wildlife Sanctuary caters for all native animals at risk - John Walker worked as a ranger on Fraser Island and has a passion for saving the dingo.
|Author Notes||Written as tribal people would speak in English, however, the old man Dingo was speaking to his clan. Before the mists of time, man spoke to animals and vice versa. Tucker means food.|
As sister moon kissed brother sun and went to her rest; Sun rose to light the new day. On a cold winter's morning, the Brooweena tribe made ready to break camp and move on to warmer climes on the northern borders of their tribal lands.
Forty tribal members, including children, washed the sleep away in the nearby stream. The lubra brought cool, clean, stream water to the old people. They carried it cradled in huge, empty, Bunya nuts. All the children were rounded up and were warned by the elders not to wander off.
Wandi (aged fifteen) and his young sister, Melie (aged ten) were bored with the adults. They had been given chores to do: cover the fires and make sure the old people were warm.
The children then wrapped the small amount of dried meat for the journey. Along the way to the summer camp, men would spear Kangaroo and other animals for food.
The young men cut saplings for litter poles, to carry the old and sick. Two poles strapped together by bark made strong litters.This they did by cutting strips of bark, wetting it and twisting it into ropes. When the litters were finished they laid kangaroo skins between the poles. The women filled their dilly bags with dried snake and Kumar.
Lately, the animals had moved away from the Brooweena camp, leaving the tribe hungry and living on vegetable roots, witchetty grubs and snake roasted over the fires.
Wandi was tall and lean. He had just been initiated into the tribe and was considered a man by their standards. His Father, whose tribal name was Baralga, had politely asked a sheep to spare it's life for the sake of his tribe; they were starving. He then speared the sheep, which had wandered from the white man's land. He scraped the skin clean of meat and roasted the carcase.
Baralga stretched the skin until it was dry. He used the soap plant to soften the skin so it could be worn. The sheepskin was then given to his son, Wandi, as an initiation gift.
Wandi strutted around like a peacock. Nobody had a beautiful ,white, sheepskin like his. The two children were terribly bored and Wandi suggested to his sister Melie "Let's take a walk in the forest. Maybe we can catch a snake for dinner?"
They sneaked away from the camp, not saying anything to their elders. As they continued up the familiar walking track to the mountains, Wandi thought to himself, "Perhaps Melie is too young to walk so far." He pushed that thought aside and pulled his new sheepskin around himself as he took Melie's small hand. He knew he was being selfish but he didn't really care that much now that he was officially a 'man.'
Time slipped by as the children looked at the beauty of their homeland. They were sad to be moving away to the summer camp. Melie was shivering and started to complain to her brother.
"I'm cold, I want to go back," she kicked dead leaves at her brother.
"Don't be a baby," said Wandi. He stood on one leg with his spear supporting him and his opposite foot resting on the calf of his standing leg. This stance is a typical resting position for men.
Looking around the bush, he failed to recognise the area. Wandi began to panic. The sun was sinking in the west and the cold night air was coming down. There was no wildlife, no birds singing and he wished he hadn't brought his sister on this walk. She was too small to climb the hills and he wondered what to do?
He would have to find shelter from the freezing sheets of rain now lashing their semi-naked bodies.
Brother sun was slowly sinking in the west. Suddenly, a large red Kangaroo stood tall on the path. The children were scared. Kangaroo could be vicious toward human kind. They used their strong tails to sit on and kicked out with their large feet with seriously, razor-sharp claws. Kangaroo could gut a man in minutes.
"What are you doing so far from your camp?" the Kangaroo said to the children.
"We are cold and have lost our way," said Wandi.
"Hmm, I won't harm you. Baiame sent me to guide you to shelter. Follow me, children." He bounded slowly so the children could follow him. In the old days, animals spoke to humans.
After fifteen minutes' climb, Kangaroo stopped and pointed towards a cave hidden in the high timbers. He then took flight into the thick bush.
"Quickly, before the sun sets," Wandi pulled and half-dragged his sister up the steep granite slope towards the cave.
Once inside the cave, darkness was complete. Sister Moon was rising and gave some light outside the cave. Wandi gathered dry leaves and twigs from the cave floor. With his flint knife, he fashioned a stick to twirl in the leaves to make a fire. After much twirling, the leaves caught and light flickered.
"I will have to go get some branches to keep the fire going," said Wandi.
He slid down the granite bolder and found some dead trees on the forest floor. Many trees had died in the drought. He then made his way back to the cave and piled more fuel on the fire.
The light from the flickering fire threw shadows across the roof of the cave and the children looked up and saw white handprints and drawings of animals that their ancestors had left for future generations. Vampire bats frightened the children as they took their night flight to hunt for cattle, (which they feed on) sucking small amounts of blood from the beast.
Wandi took off his sheepskin and wrapped it around his sister. They huddled together listening to the heavy rain outside the cave.
Suddenly, the cave was lit by a wavering blue light and the children were terrified. They had heard stories about the ghosts of long dead ancestors that guarded the cave. Out of the blue light a figure appeared. He was wrapped in beautiful furs and his skin shone like ebony in the firelight.
"I am called Nunundiri, guardian of the Ghost Cave," he sat cross-legged before the fire.
The children's eyes were white with fear, never having seen a ghost or spirit guide before.
"Wandi, you have disobeyed your parents and put your sister in danger." Nunundiri frowned at the young man as Melie clung to Wandi's white sheepskin.
"You will be a great tribal leader one day, but for now, you must learn a lesson."
Nunundiri whisked the sheepskin from Wandi's shoulders and spun it in the air. It took flight and continued on its journey outside the cave, floating on the air currents, and then it was gone.
"I, I am sorry for my selfishness," stuttered Wandi.
Nunundiri made a spell, putting the children to sleep. He then wove a cloak of safety around them before he flew away to the Brooweena camp.
When Wandi and Melie awoke, the sky was blue and the air fresh from the overnight rains. It was a bright new day. Their small fire were cold ashes and they could hear the sound of voices outside the cave.
"Father! The children cried with joy. We were lost. We are so happy to see you."
On the walk back to the camp they chattered on, as children do. Telling their father about the visit of Nunundiri and how scared they were.
On reaching the old camp, elders gathered around and fed the two lost children.
"Nunundiri visited us and told us where to find you," said their Father.
"I am sorry that we left and disobeyed your wishes. I will try to be more responsible now." Wandi hung his head.
"Wait here, with your sister," said Baralga (Father)
He returned with a beautiful white sheepskin hung over his arm.
"Oh, I thought it was gone forever!" Melie buried her tiny face in the fleece.
Great dancing and celebrations were held to welcome the children back to the tribe. The men painted their bodies and placed feathers in their hair. The women stamped their feet to the deep throb of the didgeridoos.
The dancing was led by the father of the children, called Baralga. His stick-like legs reminded the tribe that he was named after the beautiful Brolga bird. The birds danced in their thousands at mating time. Their feathers were a wonderful pink and red colour, caused by the food they ate.
Wandi also danced with his father, imitating the dance of the Brolga bird.
In a tall gum tree, Nunundiri, spirit of the Ghost Cave, sat watching over the Brooweena tribe.
Australian English and grammar:
Witchetty grubs: a delicacy roasted over the fire or popped in the mouth whole. Sweet and nutritious.
Dilly bags: woven bags from the stalks of water lilies. Women also use them to carry fish and when digging for roots of plants, like Kumara (sweet potato.)
Baiame: Great Spirit, Maker of all living things. Another name for our God.
Lubra: Older female tribal member.
Baralga: Means Brolga. A beautiful bird with long, graceful legs. They dance together at mating time. Wandi's father was named after the bird because he was the best dancer in the tribe.
The Bunya tree has huge nuts that drop to the ground and the aboriginals used to hollow them out and use them for containers. In the olden days, tribes came from all over Oz to celebrate the Bunya Nut Festival, there was much dancing and catching up with other tribes they hadn't seen for a year.
All animals spoke to humans in the old days. If a man would kill a kangaroo, wallaby, emu, he first asked permission from that animal. Then he thanked Baiame (Great Spirit) for the food to sustain his people. Please enjoy our way of life in the days before MacDonald's!
A mattress of bruised cloud hung low over the purple mountains; tribal lands of the Dari people in the Kimberly region of Australia.
The young people of the Dari tribe sat at the feet of their elder; listening to the stories of the Dreamtime.
Jabiru, a man so named because he had spindly legs, just like the Jabiru (bird.) He spoke to the children, and young folk sitting in the red dust at his feet. He was telling them the story of the star-crossed lovers who were forbidden to be together because of their family ties. Of how the couple finally found eternal love.
"Long time ago, camel men came to this country. Dey were from a desert place called Afghanistan," his leathery face lit up with a toothless grin as he tried his best to pronounce that difficult word.
"Many, many camels and Afghani drivers came. The camels could go for days in da desert without water. Dey carried heavy loads for da white people.
"What's a camel, Jabiru?" One of the youngest looked at the old man with a quizzical smile.
"Er, well, dey be big beasts with long necks and two humps, sometimes one hump." Jabiru knew what was coming next, and so, he produced a stick and drew a camel in the red dust for all the children to see and understand what he was talking about.
"What's in da camel's hump?" A skinny teenager asked.
"Dey carry all da water for da journey. Camel can go five days, sometimes twelve days without water." Jabiru explained.
"Dey built a camel station so dey could change over camels for rest after long journey. Dey also built a place to pray to der God called Allah. Dis place for praying was called a Mosque. Dey all sit on pretty mats on da floor. Chanting and bending, chanting and bending. Us black fella's not allowed in dat place.
"Who dat Allah fella'?" A child asked politely.
"Well, he same fella as our Baiame, Great Spirit, maker of all living things. Methinks he would have sore ears from all that chanting and shouting!"
"Do dey sit on bark like us?" The children were so curious.
"No, dey sit on stuff called car, car, car...pet, him woven like our baskets in pretty colours. Him made out of dat sheep wool wot come off dat beast. White fella keep dat sheep for meat and use da wool for da cold weather. Now you be quiet," sighed Jabiru.
"No more questions about dem people. Jabiru gettin' tired and need to finish da story of da girl, Leila and da young fella' Majnun."
"Now, those two children dey first meet when dey were little children in , just like you. Dey go to school together in Afghanistan; play games, and as da time went on, dey fell in love. Dat girl, Leila, she come from family with lots of tings. Her people very rich. Dat boy, Majnun, he not so good, had nothin' to give to her. But, he love dat girl so much and ask her parent's could he marry her."
"Dat rich family dey get real angry and send him away. Dey said he poor boy and he never come to see Leila again. Well, Leila she upset girl, she loved dat good fella. Her family dey try, and try to change her mind, dey even get spirit man called magician. Dat no work, den day get magician to mix potions for dat lovely Leila; still nothing worked to change her mind, she was Majnun's soul mate," Jabiru cuddled up against the ghost gum and in seconds he was snoring.
"Hey!" Wake up and tell us the rest of the story!" The children shook Jabiru.
"Or right, mine tin kit dis old man headin' for da sky soon," he yawned and started the story again.
"Da young people were kept apart at da camel camp. Dey manage to meet in secret place under da most beautiful, Desert Rose tree."
"Den dey get sprung by da elders and dey send dat boy back to his country."
"After many moons, he come back a rich man from dat place. Dat Leila she still wait for him. Still no wedding, Leila come from another tribe. Just like we are today; no marry other tribes, stick with our own people."
The children's faces were serious as they took in the story; they wanted a good ending to the couples plight.
"Now, dem people hunted Majnun away, told him to be a priest man in da Mosque. He refused and made plans to wait for his love for as long as it took. She told him she would send him food at the Mosque. So he served the people like a slave."
"In secret, she bundled up food and sent her servant. He took dat food to da Mosque. A bad priest took da food, he be a big, fat priest. Dat fat man he eat da food instead of giving it to Majnun."
"As time went by, Majnun, he shrunk from hunger, looked like a dead man. He skinny as a post," Jabiru covered his toothless mouth as he thought about the post, he couldn't stop giggling, started the children off and they all laughed aloud.
"Leila took a chance and went to the Mosque, she asked the head priest about Majnun and was told he wasn't part of the worshipers. She was frantic and went lookin' and callin' for dat beautiful boy."
"Another priest told her that the fat man ate Majnun's food," she was aghast.
A young girl asked Jabiru where was that Majnun? He yawned and stood up on his skinny legs. Thinking to himself if he didn't finish the story he would never visit his ancestors. Jabiru stirred on his legs and bade the children walk with him to the river nearby. He was trying to keep himself awake in the noonday sun.
"Or right, she look for long time and never find her love," he spun a flat stone, skipping it across the river where a flock of Jabiru-birds waded and fed.
"Anything to keep awake. Dem birds so pretty, dey be my spirit people," he mumbled to himself.
"Majnun lay down between the roots of the Desert Rose tree; he died there. Dat beautiful tree felt sorry for da boy and Majnun was ab... abs, absorbed into dat tree, I tink dey call it, into da tree. He was alive because the tree nurtured him and he still wondered why Leila never came with food to keep him alive?"
"One day many moons later, Leila was out walking and she heard her named called. Looking around her, there was nobody to see. She had never married and still thought of her Majnun. Looking at the beautiful Desert Rose, she saw the face of her beloved."
"Leila, come to me," Majnun called to her.
"Majnun waited for her, she was full of joy to see his face in the tree. She lay down between the roots and she too was ab...sorbed into the tree. Entwined together in their love forever. Dat is da story of how da Desert Rose Tree cared enough to bring da lovers together." Jabiru tottered towards his gunya to sleep forever.
When you see the twisted limbs of the Desert Rose, even the small ones, remember the star-crossed lovers entwined forever.
|Author Notes||Australian aboriginal 'English' dialect. Star-crossed lovers live in the roots of the Desert Rose Tree, entwined forever. The Desert Rose has twisted roots and loves a dry climate. It can grow to thirty foot in the right climate.|
Beside the Diamantina River, Ma-Ma, elder of the Kurria tribe, sat gazing into the flickering flames of the baanya. She had lived a long and fruitful life, now, she waited to pass over to Baiame, Great Spirit and maker of all living things.
Many children had passed through her life; she loved to sit in the shade of the white ghost gums. Telling stories of the beginnings of time; of animals that spoke to humans and legends of the dreamtime. How the land and it's creatures were brought into being.
As she gazed at the dying flames, she saw her grandchildren in spirit, making their way along the hunting track of their ancestors. The boy, Tungai and his younger sister Weemai made her heart glad.
Eventually, the children burst through the trees, to the delight of the old woman. Her old, rheumy eyes shone like unpolished opals.
"Well, how did your hunting go?" She smiled with pride.
The children were dressed in kangaroo-skin-aprons and over their brown shoulders, carried a wallaby each. Weemai the younger, carried two Krangalang in her dilly bag.
"I see you are great hunters, and we will eat well tonight." Ma-Ma cackled.
The Boy, Tungai threw his animal down and then helped his sister, Weemai with her tiny Paddy-Melon wallaby.
"These are for you grandmother," Weemai handed her the two Krangalang.
"Tungai, after you have skinned and gutted the animals, I will tell you a new story." Ma-Ma smiled her toothless smile.
"Grandmother, we are too old for childish stories," Tungai spread his feet and stood as tall as he could. He was soon to be initiated into the tribe as a man. Teenage boys became men around the age of fourteen.
"No, I want to hear the new story," wailed Weemai who was only eight years old.
"Go skin those animals Tungai, we will wait for you to come sit with us. You are not so old that you can't listen to your grandmother.
Did you stretch the skins in the sun?" Ma-Ma enquired.
"Yes, I have skinned and wet the skins down. The crows will eat the rest. Not much meat, still it will add to our men's hunt."
Tungai scuffed his broad feet in the dust, turned and dragged the meat away. Weemai sat beside Ma-Ma and cuddled into her warmth.
The Kurria tribe fished for barramundi when the river was not in drought; there had always been plenty of game to keep them going. Winter was approaching; time to move to their summer baanya.
Ma-Ma wriggled her self in the dust towards the tall ghost gum and sighed with relief as the tree gave her shade. The children sat either side of her, Tungai hugged his long legs and Weemai lay her curly head in Ma-Ma's lap.
"Long time ago, dreamtime place. Big animals that stood taller than two men, beautiful birds with colours of the rainbow and many spirits from the sea to the land," she coughed, spat blood.
There was one lonely spirit called err... I forgot that spirit name; so long ago now. Oh, I just remember his name, his name were Goomidgie."
"What did he look like?" The children questioned in unison.
"I tell you so many times that spirit has no body but can be anything that you feel happy with. Like this old gum tree we are sitting under. When ancestors finished making this land, they retired into all the trees that you see."
"What did Goomidgie do?" Weemai grinned at her favourite grandmother.
"Well, he was a good spirit, looking after all the bush and some pretty flowers too. No bad things, I think. That spirit fella, he was lonely and one day..." She started coughing more this time. Tungai ran for a water cup and filled it from a wild pig's bladder.
"You sick, grandmother?" Tungai lifted the empty pine-cone filled with water to her ageing lips.
"Ah, that's better," she cleared her throat and began the story again.
"Goomidgie was walking through the bush one day and he heard the most beautiful call of a songbird. He had never heard such beautiful singing in the bush. So, he went looking for that special bird."
"Looking up, he spied a blue bird singing to Baiame. He sat on an old rugged rock and when the bird had finished giving his praises in song, he spoke to that blue bird."
"Your singing is the most beautiful I have ever heard," Goomidgie sighed. He also thought he must have this bird sing for him, and him alone. So, Goomidgie cast a spell on the blue songbird.
He walked away knowing that he now owned his own singing bird. The next day he went back to hear the beautiful singing. There was silence.
The bird sat downcast in the tree and her feathers were falling out.
"Why don't you sing?" Goomidgie pleaded.
"I have no reason to sing," replied the bird.
Goomidgie grew angry, he had created a special forest and a tall tree for his captive bird.
"You are most ungrateful bird. I have made a special forest and a beautiful tree for you to perch upon."
"You have created these things, yes, but this is not my home. I am most unhappy," chirped bird.
"Well, if I let you go will you sing for me and me alone?" Goomidgie sighed.
"If you set me free I will not sing for you alone because my songs are for everyone. You have made me a captive of your greed."
"Alright, I will set you free because you don't belong to me alone. I was selfish to make you captive. Perhaps I will hear you sing in the forest often." Goomidgie lifted the spell and the blue bird flew to her home.
Ma-Ma sighed and told the children to go play.
"I have finished all my stories, now I will sleep. Learn the lesson, you cannot capture nature for your greed, it belongs to itself."
Ma-Ma slept, while she slept she heard the most beautiful song of the blue bird. She had passed from this life to her place in heaven. Goomidgie took her hand and led her to her new life in spirit.
Photo: Indigo blue bunting song bird.
Australian and Aboriginal language and grammar.
Baiame: The Creator of life.
The Glass House Mountains stood like stone sentinels above the valley floor; home to every kind of native animal. Lush tree ferns; tall ghost gums rising to touch the clouds.
Before the mists of time, the Girraween tribe made a pact with Maamu, the bad witch that lived inside the mountains. In return for not disclosing her whereabouts to Baiame (Great Spirit) she promised the tribe a life of plenty. They were warned never to go to the Mountains.
The Bell bird called across the valley floor and the Whip bird answered the call. All the animals were fat and happy in their habitat. There were plenty of food for them to eat. In turn, the Girraween tribe hunted and fished the lush land that they could never leave.
After the pact was made with the witch, she made sure that no tribe member could leave Timbrogaten ( Glass House Mountains.) At first, the early tribes rebelled against her decision to keep them captive. As time went by, they forgot about leaving Timbrogaten because their lives were like living in paradise; they grew fat and lazy.
Two brothers, Kurria and Beerwah were bored with camp life. They sat beside the billabong (small lake) that were teeming with all kinds of fish.
Kurria skipped stones across the surface of the billabong, hoping to catch a leaping fish in flight. Beerwah drew circles in the red dirt.
"Let's go to the mountain," Kurria grinned.
"No, we are forbidden to go there because of Maamu (the witch.) She will eat us alive!" Shouted Beerwah the younger brother.
"Our tribe grows fat and lazy, besides, I want to go to other lands. If we can ask the witch, maybe she will let us go free?" Said Kurria.
"I'm too scared to go near Timbrogaten," Beerwah started to cry.
"You are a big baby, why you cry? I am older than you and soon I will be a man-child." Kurria stood tall on one leg and his other leg cradled the calf of his standing leg. A way of standing in the tribes, all hunters do this to show they are men and hunters.
The boys picked up their spears and woomeras (throwing sticks) their boomerangs were left with the lubra's (senior women) who were painting intricate designs for the boys. It is said the dot paintings gave power to the boomerang for a clean kill.
Back at the baanya (camp) the women and girls were laughing as they painted. The Elders told stories of the coming of Maamu (witch) always sad because of the pact made. They too, would have liked to move to other camps to meet and greet other tribes.
Maamu floated over the tribe, watching her children. She was pleased they belonged to her alone. She cackled as she sat in the tall gum tree with her familiar, the black crow.
Every day, the crow circled the camp and reported back to Maamu, telling her of the fat and lazy tribe who did nothing all day.
On arrival back at the camp, Kurria and Beerwah sat in the dust waiting for their grandmother to come and tell them stories. Kurria was impatient, he wanted to make the journey to Timbrogaten. To see the witch and ask for their freedom.
Grandmother waddled across the clearing her broad feet kicking up the red dust. She was an Elder of the Girraween tribe with many stories to tell the children.
Kurria whittled wood in a temper. He just wanted to pack his Kangaroo skin bag with Biltong (dried meat) for the journey to see the witch. Beerwah sat wide-eyed in terror, his thoughts of being eaten by the witch and the tribal ban on visiting the mountains loomed large in his young mind.
"Well, here we are boys, ready for another story?" Said grandma.
Kurria stood up and kicked dirt in his brother's face. Beerwah took off in a big hurry. He was a gentle soul and didn't dare face his big brother.
"Now, what was that all about? Why you boys fighting?"
Kurria pretended to dance like the Brolga Bird for his initiation into manhood.
Having second-sight, Grandma knew what Kurria had planned. She sighed, waiting for Kurria to settle down and lose his temper.
"Why you want to go to that bad place, Timbrogaten? That Maamu she plenty bad witch, told us never go there."
Kurria had cooled his temper and sat beside the old woman. He loved her dearly, knew she wouldn't be around for much longer. Respected her knowledge; and so he sat quietly and listened to her.
"You know Maamu owns our tribe and all the animals. We can never leave this place. My time is almost here, I look forward to my freedom with Baiame (Great Spirit) then I will be truly free!"
Kurria puffed out his skinny, brown chest and gave his beloved grandmother a kiss.
"I am going to ask the witch to free our people," Kurria grinned.
Tears trickled through the dirt-caked face of the old woman.
"I cannot stop you, I can only guide you with my spirit," she said.
As grandmother lay back against the Baanya tree, Kurria packed his small kangaroo skin bag with food. Berries and nuts and Biltong. He bent low to kiss grandmother, to bid her farewell.
As Kurria set off in his native jog, grandmother slept and as she slept, her spirit rose above her body. She was dead to the earth.
She met the Creator (Baiame) and asked his permission to go with Kurria to the mountain. To protect her grandson with her spirit body.
Baiame turned her into Yalunga (the Rainbow serpent.) She slithered with great speed after her grandson.
Kurria jogged through the red dirt, making his way through the thick undergrowth. Suddenly, three animals blocked his way.
A large, white Kangaroo, Yalunga the Rainbow serpent and a tiny bush mouse.
"What do you want?" He scratched his curly, black cap of hair.
The white Kangaroo spoke first; he was of course Great Spirit.
"Kurria, we are here to protect you from the witch. Your grandmother is Yalunga and well...the bush mouse your brother Beerwah, who was too afraid to accompany you to the mountains. Don't be sad, your grandmother passed over to me, asked could she shape-shift and come along to protect you."
"I must be seeing things!" Exclaimed Kurria.
The bush mouse scurried up Kurria's leg and into his tucker-bag.
The white Kangaroo stood tall on his hind legs.
"Believe what you see, Kurria, I am your Creator and loving Father."
Yalunga (grandmother) entwined her serpent coils around the boy's long, brown legs.
Her voice was hissing and he was frightened. He froze as the coils of Yalunga caressed his skin.
"We of the Girraween tribe must work together to defeat Maamu," Yalunga spat. The bush mouse in his tucker bag crawled on to his shoulder and rubbed against his neck.
"Don't be afraid," Beerwah the bush mouse squeaked.
And so, the animals and the boy set off on their journey to Timbrogaten. Kurria had a lump in his throat as he watched Yalunga (grandmother) slither past him. He knew she had been close to death and now, she was protecting him in the form of the Rainbow Serpent.
As they climbed the rugged hills to the base of Timbrogaten, the white Kangaroo vanished. Yalunga slithered past Kurria and found a place to sun her self on a rock ledge.
"Looks like it's just you and me, brother," Kurria's stomach rumbled.
"I'm still here brother," Beerwah the bush mouse squeaked.
"Fat lot of good you are, you're too tiny to help me fight the witch!"
Clouds scudded above Timbrogaten, the blue sky started to darken. Heralding the approach of Maamu.
The witch appeared to Kurria; surprisingly lithe and lovely.
"Well, Kurria my boy. You have come to visit me?" Her voice smooth as silk and reminding the boy of the tinkling stream below his camp.
He was lost for words at her beauty. Mesmerised by her presence. Not afraid of her at all. In fact, he was drawn to her like a moth to the flame.
"Be careful brother, she isn't what she seems," squeaked Beerwah.
A crack of lightening split the rock face open. A walkway appeared to Kurria. He was trembling at the sight.
"Welcome to my home," Maamu soothed his fears.
Kurria felt he was in a dream, his feet hardly touching the ground. He followed her through the split in the rock, hearing the sound of a waterfall, he moved forward. Now, she had him.
The White Kangaroo appeared behind him, grandmother Yalunga followed too.
The witch seemed to be unaware of their presence. She was more interested in the capture of Kurria. A young man to sate her lust.
As they came through the split in the rock and entered her garden, the sky darkened. The White Kangaroo (who was Baiame, Great Spirit and maker of all living things) vanished again.
"So, you have come to ask for the freedom of your tribe?" Maamu questioned the boy. "What will you give me in return?"
"Nothing will I give to you, you have imprisoned my people for centuries. Now, we want our freedom, you don't own us!" Kurria spoke more boldly than he felt.
The sky was now roiling with black clouds and the roar of the wind was deafening. The witch pointed at the rock face, she closed the entrance forever.
Black rain was teeming down on Kurria as he saw the witch turn into a gigantic Witchetty Grub! Fat and juicy, a horrible sight for the young man. Her once beautiful garden had turned to dust.
Yalunga the Rainbow Serpent (grandmother) moved like lightning. She wrapped her thick coils around the writhing grub, squeezing the life from Maamu.
The battle between Yalunga and Maamu continued until both were exhausted.
Baiame appeared in a flash of white light.
"No more will you trap the Girraween tribe, no more will you exist on this earth! Go, crawl away to live in the never-never land of darkness until I am ready to deal with your greed and cruelty."
The darkness lifted from the land, the sun shone brightly above the mountains.
Baiame held grandmother close in her spirit-form. And then they were gone.
Kurria and Beerwah awoke to find themselves back at their camp. The tribe were packing to move on for the first time in centuries. The Girraween tribe were free to walk the land outside of the prison created by Maamu.
"Where are we going?" Beerwah and Kurria asked their Father; in unison.
Father stood tall and proud, elder of the Girraween tribe. He looked at his sons and said "wherever Great Spirit leads us my sons."
|Author Notes||Captain Cook first sighted the mountains whilst surveying the East Coast of Australia. He named the mountains "Glass House" because he was homesick for England and they reminded him of his home with many windows.|
The Butchulla tribe lived on the Island called K'gari. They had made their place on the sands of the champagne pools. Rocky outcrops that captured the sea as the tide went out and left the succulent creatures where the tribe could scoop up small sea animals to supplement their diet.
Terara, the boy-child, sat on a granite boulder, engrossed in the sight of the changing sky.
Old man Wamoon called to his grandson "where are you boy?" Terara continued to sit watching the roiling storm clouds which quickly approached the palm trees near to his home. He was fascinated by the rainbow arcing across the sea.
"Terara!" Grandmother shouted to her grandson.
The boy slid down the rock face and ran towards the baanya where his tribe were preparing to dance a Corroboree. The changing of the season. From summer to winter and all other seasonal changes were celebrated. All tribes give thanks for a good harvest of food; meat, fish and good hunting.
Baiame (Great Spirit) sat upon the clouds watching over the tribe. Smiling at Terara, the boy who would be a Sky Dancer.
"When you have done your chores, you can take your brother up the mountain to see if you can spear some wallaby."
"Oh, grandmother do I have to take Weejun? He is so small and can't climb too well?" Terara crossed his arms and stamped his broad foot in the sand.
"Weejun has to learn how to hunt, who better to teach him?" Grandmother smiled behind a banana leaf.
After cleaning out the fire-pit and sweeping the gunya's out, Terara picked up his spear and woomera.
"Come on Weejun, we are going hunting on the big mountain."
"Don't want to go," Weejun wailed.
Weejun was very small for his six years, clumsy and shy. He had no chance of using a woomera to hurl a spear at a wallaby.
"You big Picanniny, how you gonna learn to hunt?" Terara grabbed the boy and made him walk in front by prodding him with his woomera.
"Grandmother needs meat for our people, we have to try and find a wallaby or goanna," Terara kept prodding his brother forward.
The bright sun was rising high in the sky as the boys reached the peak of Bandaar mountain. As Terara looked across the sea, he saw a most beautiful rainbow. Entranced, he sat down to watch where it started and where it finished.
The boys could hear the roar of the sea below them. Then, a deep male voice spoke:
"So, you want to be a sky dancer, Terara?" Goanna clung to the Leopard tree with his head turned towards the boys. Baiame was disguised as a goanna, not to frighten the boys.
"How can you speak to us, goanna?" Terara quizzed the lizard.
"I am your Maker, and I can help you become a sky dancer," Baiame replied.
After speaking for quite a while, Terara looked for his brother Weejun, he had left the mountain to return to his baanya. He was too frightened by the goanna's voice to stay with his big brother.
"See the rainbow across the sea?"
"Of course I can, where does it come from?"
Baiame grinned, showing his sharp goanna teeth.
"I created all things, and the rainbow comes from the rising waters on this island," Baiame was changing from lizard to man.
Terara was petrified when he saw the transformation. His creator was now a very tall black man. Handsome, chiselled features, wearing a kangaroo skin about his lithe body.
They sat together for hours, discussing the clouds and storms, finally the rainbow.
"Take my hand and we will sky walk the rainbow, don't be afraid my son, no harm will come to you because I hold you fast."
They walked towards the cliff face and Baiame told Terara not to look down. Stepping off the mountain, flying through the clouds and finally walking the rainbow, Terara had become a sky dancer.
Many years passed, no body of the boy was found. The small island near to K'gari was called Lizard Island, it still is today.
Terara was changed into Jayawah, the water spirit. He lives with his Creator and is a sky dancer. When the mist rises he rides the rainbow.
K'gari: Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland.
Baiame: Creator of all living things.
Jayawah: water spirit
Warroon waddled slowly up the path that his ancestor's had trod before him. He was so tired and so old. Warroon had seen forty summers, eight cycles of life from the final nine. Walking the land and sleeping in his burrow.
One grey day, he fell asleep never to wake to the land of his forefathers. "I must be dreaming, I thought I had passed over to spirit."
On reaching the top of the path, he sighed at the sight of a curtain of mist across the path.
"Maybe this is where I meet my family?" He muttered to himself.
The mist parted as he reached it, bright sunlight lit his way. He was amazed to see his whole family waiting for him.
"Grandfather, grandmother and my mother and father!"
He felt younger and no longer stiff and sore from old age. All around him gathered his friends that had passed over.
Silver Barramundi jumped with the sun causing their bodies to shine. Seeing splashes in the river nearby, they swam with their arch enemy the crocodile.
"I'm not hungry, do we eat here?" Warroon enquired.
"Of course not," grandmother smiled at him, "we are spirit now, we don't need to eat and we all share a common bond and language."
"When will we see Baiame? He is after all, our Creator." Warroon lay in the lush, green grass beside the river that seemed to go on forever. On top of the hill a mighty onyx castle glinting in the bright sunlight. The door to the castle was studded with precious gems, as were the guards that stood like sentinels, guarding the Creator. They were simply ornamental statues, Bahaime needed no protection, he was the protector of all living things.
All the animals began their trek towards the castle. Kangaroo hopped, wombat waddled, snake slid, sugar glider swooped and the colourful birds chattered on their way to Bahaime.
When all the animals and birds were gathered in the great hall; Bahaime rose from his gilded chair to speak to them all.
"All animals and birds before me have spent their days upon the earth. Now, you have all come to your real home to be well and perfect as I originally made you," he smiled as a kindly father.
"There is a new arrival called Warroon, a wombat from the High Country; come forward my friend."
Warroon shuffled slowly towards the Creator; Warroon was trembling with anxiety and fear at being singled out.
Bahaime spoke to the gathering, there was hushed silence as one grey wombat sat at his feet.
"You all know there are nine cycles of life. When you have completed those nine, you come home to me.
Warroon, you have completed eight. I have a special request to make of you. Because you have been a kind and gentle spirit all of your life, never taking anything that didn't belong to you or hurting another animal, I make this request based on your life."
Warroon bowed to the Creator and in a shaky voice asked Bahaime what was his request?
"I would like you to spend the last cycle of your life as a human, not just a human, a healer of men. How do you feel about returning to earth?"
In a flash of white light, Warroon was changed into a young man with curly locks of hair.
"Your request is my command Bahaime," he smiled at his new form.
"Your life will be filled with sick and crippled humans, animals too. I will now send you back to fore-fill your destiny."
The bright sunlight had gone, all his animal friends had disappeared, he was alone. Not really perturbed at his new home on earth.
He had a new name and a new country. His name was Francis of Assisi and his home was a poor Italian district with many folk wanting him to heal them. His animals became his solace. Frances became a hermit, living from hand to mouth.
Bahaime was well pleased with Francis, he watched over him as he healed the poor and the sick. The animals could speak to him, he was serving the Creator of all living things. Finally, the Church made him a saint before he went to his real home.
|Author Notes||A single and complete story.|
Nura-ward-ubununa ( carpet snake) uncurled his large, beautifully patterned body from the mighty gumtree branch. He spied a young Binda ( kangaroo) nibbling on sweet grass and saw the slight movement in her pouch.
"Hmm, looks like I have a nice dinner tonight." He grinned from above
Noo-rumbaas were the hunting ground for the young mandurras (hunters) The youths had to prove to the elders they could bring home food for the tribe.
"Shh, walk quietly Naroo, she will smell you and your large feet make so much noise." Elder brother Roonga whispered.
The brothers were loaded down with many spears and great hope they would take home tasty meat for their tribe.
Meanwhile, Bili-yara circled the skies above the boys. His keen eyesight had spotted the carpet snake.
"A feast for me, this will feed me for days." He called as he rode the thermals.
"Which one shall we kill first? " Roonga smiled at the Bindar.
"No, she is too easy and not enough meat for the two of us to take home." Grimaced Naroo.
"We are manduraas, hunters of food!" Naroo was anxious to start showing his prowess at spear throwing.
The argueing went on for what seemed an eternity. The boys were young and thought only about which animal to take home.
Suddenly, an earth spirit called Bullimo rose from the ground. He had been listening to the boys for too long.
"You stupid Koolyangarra (children) talk too much and give me a headache. You must have a plan when you are hunting. For all the time you are arguing about which animal to kill first, you will have grown old!"
"First you must kill the kangaroo, then the snake will come down to take the baby from her pouch. Then, when the eagle swoops to take the snake, you kill the bird. Of course, if you think you can carry the snake, kill it also. You will have much kooka (meat) to take home."
The boys didn't understand the wisdom of Bullimo.
"We are not greedy, we could just take the kangaroo home." Naroo was confused at the three-way wisdom of the earth spirit.
"Please, don't kill me, my Joey will die," Binda pleaded with the hunters.
"I can't kill you mother Binda," Naroo felt sorry for her. "Besides, I would have to ask for your spirit first, I have never killed before." Naroo sat down in total confusion.
Nura-warddy-bunyba slithered to the ground, he was after his dinner in Binda's pouch. Before he could wind his coils around mother Binda, there came a mighty rush of flapping wings. Bilyara's sharp beak and talons cut through the snake's diamond-patterned skin.
The huge bird tried to lift off with the body of the snake and all at once, Roonga put a spear through its body, killing it instantly.
"Bah! You had three chances at killing those animals. I told you how to go about it. Now, the Binda sits and looks at you with doe-like eyes." Bullimo sank back into the earth, disgusted.
Mother Binda hopped towards Naroo and Roonga, her baby was too small to see over her bulging pouch.
"Do you wish to take my spirit?" Her head drooped towards her Joey.
"No, mother Binda, we have enough kooka to cut up and take home to our tribal elders."
"My Joey is a buck, he will grow as you grow and he will be a good adversary when you become men. Thank you both for sparing my life." She bounded away.
Bullimo was still listening below the ground, he smiled to himself and said, "perhaps the maduraas have learnt wisdom today. They have killed only what they needed. Wisdom comes with the years and yet, these two have learnt a lesson today. Take only what you need."
Away from where the boys were butchering the snake and plucking the bird, Binda smiled as she turned into a beautiful earth spirit, her son beside her.
"They were kind enough not to take my spirit, my son, now you and I can watch over them as they grow to manhood."
"Will they chase me and kill me when I am grown?"
"No, you will stay as you are, a spirit of the land.
Mandurras = hunters
Noorumbaas = hunting ground
Bindar = Kangaroo
Nurawarddubununa = carpet snake
Bilyara = wedge-tailed eagle
Bullimo = earth spirit
Koolyangarra = acting like children
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