Aboriginal Mythology 1

An A-Z spanning history of the Australian Aboriginal people from the earliest legends to the present day.





Eagle Eagle (known in eastern Australia as Eaglehawk) and Crow are important moiety birds. They were used to separate the Adnyamathanha people into two divisions, which were then further separated into sections, with various animals and birds being used as clan or section names.

The Adnyamathanha Crow elders have a myth which shows the oppositional tendencies and rivalries between the two divisions. In the Dreamtime there lived an eagle named Wildu who had two crow nephews both called Wakarla. As a type of All-Father, he was always telling them what to do. He told them what food they could eat and what food the elders could eat and, worse, his two wives, Mudu and Ngalyuka, Brown Hawk and Kestrel, were in a 'wrong way' relationship with him. they both belonged to his moiety and this was against the Law. both Wakarla belonged to the opposite moiety and were in the right relationship to them, but they were still novices and could do little as he was their uncle.

Finally they decided on a plan to get rid of him. they went to a place called Ulkananha and made a fake stick-rat's nest. They took some leg bones of a kangaroo and sharpened them at one end. They stuck these in the nest with the points up, then went to their uncle and told him that they had found a rat's nest. Wildu came to the place and wanted to hit the nest with his club, but his nephews persuaded him to jump on it instead. He did so and the sharp bones went right through his feet, splitting them as they are today. The Wakarla nephews took Wildu's wives and called all the animals and birds together for a great ceremony at the boro ground at Ipaathanha. Wilda pulled himself from the nest and landed on a hill. All the animals jeered him. He decided to leave them and went northwards to Yurdlawarta (Mount Flint) where he died. His feathers may be seen there as blocks of flint.

Meanwhile his wives had left the ceremony to come to find him. they found one of his feathers, then a bit of featherdown. Finally they found him. He was lying there dead, his feathers, scattered all around. His wives picked up the feathers and stuck them back into his body. They tried to start him breathing. They pulled him up and blew on him as they did so. Then Wildu began to move and came back from the dead. he flew up into the air, saying that he was going to eat all the old women and children. His wives scolded him, but he took no notice. He landed on the hill as before and watched the dancers below, then saw a heap of rocks which hid the entrance of a cave. He told his wives to dig a tunnel from the east side into the cave so that they could lead all the birds and animals into the cave as he was going to raise a huge storm to punish his nephews. He told them to sleep at the front of the cave.

That night he raised the storm and all the animals and birds fled for safety into the cave. Wildu's wives slept at the entrance of the cave as he had told them to do. Then he built a huge fire. All the animals escaped, but the bird were trapped in the cave. The first birds to get out were cockatoos. They were able to keep away from the flames and smoke and thus stayed white. The magpies and willy wagtails were closer to the fire and were badly burnt and that is why there is a lot of black on them. The crows, who were white before, were burnt to a crisp and that is why they are black. After this the eagle flew off, telling them that they could have the country and still muttering that he would eat all the old women and children. So to this day no one trusts the eagle and crows fly around with him to make sure that he kills only to eat. 

Eaglehawk See Bunjil; Eagle; Eaglehawk and Crow.

Eaglehawk and Crow In many parts of Australia, the Aboriginal communities are divided into two halves which are often equated with birds symbolizing the opposites, the Ying and Yang into which the universe is divided. Thus Eagle, in South Australia, or Eaglehawk, in eastern Australia, represents Day or Light and Crow represents Night or Shade, as in the Ying and Yang circle, although as in Ying and Yang, the two halves are complementary, for example marriage must take place across the moiety line and certain ceremonies cannot be performed unless both moieties are represented.

There is a creation story which explains the origin of the 'halves'. Once in the Dreamtime a mosquito was buzzing around the bush and as he buzzed he eventually transformed into a blowfly, then into a small bird and at last into Crow. Crow found himself alone and wanted a wife. At that time there were other ancestral beings which lived int he trees. He collected a lot of grass, heaped it up and set fire to it. The dense smoke rose into the tree-tops. He quickly sharpened the thigh bone of a kangaroo and stuck it in the ground with the sharp point upwards. He sang one of the tree beings to him singing that he would catch it and break its fall. One of them jumped and was impaled on the sharp bone. When he tugged it free, he found that it had a deep bleeding wound. He then carried the creature to the grass fire and purified it by smoking it. The wound stopped bleeding and he saw that the creature was a female Eaglehawk. He took it to his camp and eventually they became the first Crow man and Eaglehawk woman, the primordial ancestors of the Koori moieties. From them came the marriage rule of cross-moiety marriage.

The story also sets the rule that women on reaching puberty had to be purified by smoking before they became eligible for marriage. There are many myths concerning the wily Crow and the more phlegmatic Eaglehawk. See also Bellin-Bellin; bunjil; Crow; Kimberley; Trickster character.

Earth Earth, to many Aboriginal tribes, is the foundation of all life. Some, such as the Nyungar, see it as the Great Mother with the surface being her skin. Thus to pierce her skin is to wound her. As Bill Neidjie says, 'Earth...exactly like your father or brother or mother because you got to go to earth, you go to be ome to earth, your bone...because your blood this earth here.' Also, to many Aboriginal groups the Earth is divided into male and female areas. Men will not venture into the female areas, or women into the male areas.

It may be said that almost all Aboriginal mythology is based on the earth from which many of the ancestors arose with the landscape being a living story of their Dreamtime actions. In fact, earth  and humankind are intimately linked, and if a person's country, over which he has custodianship, is injured, then the person becomes sick and dies. See also Ancestral beings; Cosmography; Djang; Earth, water, fire and air; Great Mother; Sacred places; Thalu places; Underworld.

Earth, water, fire and air The elements of earth, water, fire and air lie at the heart of many Aboriginal myths. Earth is the first element, from which water must be liberated, then water is the second element, from which fire must be taken, and the smoke of the fire represents air. The first two are usually female, and males enter them at their peril, or the male ancestral beings are born from them; the second two are male and are used in male rebirthing techniques in the boro circles, though in myth fire was often once owned by women from whom it was stolen (see Crow). It partakes of both sexes, and thus in the male rebirthing ceremonies the male initiate must pass through fire to be then purified by smoke. See also Red, black, yellow and white.

Echidna The echidna is connected with water in the mythology of many tribes, thus he is sometimes associated with the freshwater turtle. In one story, once there was a shortage of water and all the animals were dying of thirst except Echidna, whom the other animals suspected had a secret water supply. Bimba-towera the finch was told by the other animals to watch Echidna. He did so, but Echidna realized it. He said nothing, but burrowed into the earth with his strong claws. Finch put his head in the tunnel, but the ceiling collapsed and he withdrew in alarm.

After his failure, Tiddalick the giant frog, a being also strongly associated with water, offered to help. Once in the Dreamtime he had swallowed all the water and had been forced to disgorge it. Her was much more wily than finch and finally saw Echidna go to a large flat stone. When he lifted it, Tiddalick darted across and dived into the depression beneath. It was filled with water. He let out a loud croak and the other animals rushed up. they threw Echidna into a thorn bush, then slaked their thirst. In memory of this occasion Echidna continued to have the thorns sticking from his back. See also Frog, Great corroborees.

Eclipse of the moon The eclipse of the moon was an omen which meant that someone on a journey had met with a serious accident.
Eclipse of the sun The eclipse of the sun meant that someone was working black magic on someone.
Eelgin See Giant dogs.
Elders Most Aboriginal groups in the old days were guided in their day-to-day activities and spiritual duties by the older men and women. today, in most communities elders are held in great respect as repositories of knowledge.

Emu The emu is prominent in Aboriginal mythology and in some accounts emus are the seven sisters who became the Pleiades. Among the Koori people of Victoria the emu was associated with the native companion bird, and in the corpus of myths about the origin of the sun the emu and the native companion are the cosmic actors who bring light to the Earth. The elders of the tribes living along the Murray river told how in the Dreamtime there was no sun and the people only had the faint light of the stars as illumination. In the Dreamtime, emus were sky-birds and never touched the Earth, then once one of them swooped close to the Earth and saw that people were living there. On another occasion, she saw them dancing and singing., Emu could restrain herself no longer and for the first time ever landed upon the Earth and found herself among a group of native companions. She asked them if she too might live on the Earth. One of the native companions quickly hid her wings behind her back and told emu that she could never live on the Earth because her huge wings would get in the way. they had to be cut off. Emu agreed, but when she was wingless, the native companion spread her own wings and flew off with her tribe, all laughing at the trick they had played on her. Kookaburra perched on a nearby tree also laughed at the trick and, when he remembers, continues to laugh at it to this day.

Emu adjusted to living on the Earth, however, and when the breeding season came built a huge nest which she filled with eggs and sat on. One day the native companion was out with her children and saw the emu sitting on her eggs. She decided to play another trick on her. She quickly hid her brood, except for one chick, went up to Emu and greeted her. The emu, who was somewhat stupid, bore her no malice, as she had grown quite used to living on the Earth. Native Companion saw the huge pile of eggs and declared what a worry it was to have so many children all at once. She pointed to her one chick and said that it was much easier with a single chold to look after. She suggested that Emu break all her eggs except for one and the fooling bird followed her advice.

However, Gnawdenoorte, son of the All-Father, was watching and decided to punish the native companion. He caused her long and graceful neck to become crooked and wrinkled and her sweet beginning voice to become a harsh croak. From then on, the native companion could only lay one or two eggs. This made her very bitter towards Emu, though it had been her own fault.. In the next breeding season she came to Emu, but with her hideous wrinkled neck and harsh voice, she had lost the power to persuade Emu to do anything. So Native Companion then resorted to violence. She sprang over the emu and into her nest where she began smashing the eggs. Emu rushed at her, but without wings could not catch her. Native Companion simply flew uip whenever the Emu came close. Finally, she held Emu's last egg in her claw as she flew up and threw it high into the air, hoping that it would smash when it fell. However it went up and up and into the sky world, where it fell onto a huge pile of wood which Gnawdenoorte had piled up there. the collision was so great that the wood burst into flame and the whole world was flooded with light. Gnawdenoorte saw how much better the world was with light, so each day he lights up another pile of wood. 

Eora tribe The Eora Koori tribe were the traditional owners of the land on which Sydney, the largest city in Australia, now stands. The tribe was divided into various groups or clans such as the Kuringgai, Kameragal, Bidjigal, Borogegal, Buramedigal and Kidigal. See also Corroboree; Pomubwuy; Red waratah.

Extinct giant marsupials Fossil homes of giant animals. that Adnyamathanha elders have stories of the Yamuti, huge mammal-like animals either like a giant kangaroo or wombat which once roamed their country. It has been suggested that these might have been the extinct diprotodon. Other communities tell of giant kangaroos and other animals. In southern Queensland, for example, there are tales of a giant man called Yowie. He is said to be very hairy and to haunt the thick rainforests. He has been seen on various occasions, whereas amongst the Admyamathanba it is said that only shaman could see the Yamuti, but now that  skill is gone. The Dryan people thought that the heavy bone fossils of the extinct marsupials were the bones of giant animals they called Kadimakara, who once roamed the sky world down upon the world beneath, became mesmerized by the large takes of water there and fell to Earth.

Finke River Mission See Hermannsburg Mission

Fire Fire is often either given by or stolen from a female ancestor, symbolizing her warmth and light, by a male ancestor such as Crow. He then keeps it for himself and it has to be stolen from him or gained by trickery. Often the sign of the gaining of fire is marked on the body of the bird or animal, thus the blackness of Crow, who was burnt in the skirmish to gain fire for the good of everyone (see Crow). There are many stories about fire, the stealing of fire and the first making of fire. In Arnhem Land, women were the possessors of fire and it was stolen from them by their sons, who became crocodiles. They in turn kept fire for themselves until it was stolen by the rainbow bird who gave it to everyone.

Amongst the Wil Manggan people, it is told that in the Dreamtime there was a man named Fire who alone knew how to make it. Once the men wanted to start a fire in order to drive game from the high grass. Fire agreed to make the fire for them. He broke off two sticks. He put one down and made a small hole in it. Then he picked up the other stick, placed an end in the hole and began twirling it. He twirled and twirled and nothing happened. He tried another stick with the same result. He pulled out some grass, laid it down and put the spark he kindled into it. He blew on it and the grass caught fire. That is how Fire taught men to make fire by rubbing sticks together. 

Fire and the products of fire are considered to have healing properties. The ashes of particular plants are rubbed on wounds and suffering parts of the body. Aromatic plants and flowers, together with green branches and leaves, are spread on top of a fire to form a platform on which a sick person is laid. The smoke and steam from the platform contain the healing properties. A friend of mine became ill with poliomyelitis when a child. He was taken to the bulyoguttuk (sharman) who smoked him over a fire on a platform of green branches and plants and he was cured. See also Eagle, Earth, water, fire and air; Mundungkala; Shamans; Trickster character; Willy wagtail; Wudu ceremony of the Kimberley.

First man child Children are said to be found at fertility places. The Wik Munggan elders narrate a myth concerning the creation of the first man child and the subsequent fertility place. Once in the Dreamtime a single man came from the West and met a woman. they decided to stay together and then to make a baby. They made it of clay, using scarlet seeds for eyes, blades of grass for hair and string for the intestines. The man then placed this baby head - first into the vagina and eventually the baby became alive. It continued to grow and the woman's belly began swelling, as did her breasts. Now the baby moved and turned around.

The husband went off hunting and while he was away the woman gave birth. The head of the baby emerged first, then out came the red gum and the baby was born. The woman buried the afterbirth in a hole in the ground. The husband returned and found out that the baby was a boy. He looked after the mother. He dug yams for her which she ate and caught a small catfish for himself. He let the big ones go by unharmed. After a time the baby's skin darkened and the navel cord became dry and broke off. the woman took this to the man. She collected yams and small fish, smeared clay on her forehead and also rubbed charcoal over its body. Then she carried the baby to the father with roots and fish for him. He held the baby. After this, as is the way in these stories, the three sank down into the earth to form a sacred djang place. the name of this place is Pukauwayangana, the boy baby fertility place. Men coming to the place will chase out boy babies and women will become pregnant. See also Childbirth; Conception beliefs. 

First woman The myth of the first woman is told by the elders of the Kalkan clan of the Wik Munggan people. Moon and Morning Star were originally two newly initiated young men who came travelling from the north-east southwards across the land. This was in the Dreamtime and as yet there were no women. As they travelled they sang and made the rivers as they went along. the moon was the elder brother and the morning star was the younger brother. The elder brother made the younger do all the tasks which were eventually to become those assigned to women.

Once in their creative travels they lay down to sleep and during the night the elder brother got up and castrated his brother. He made a slit where the brother's genitals had been and squeezed his brother's chest to make breasts. That is the story of how the first woman came to be.

Flesh groups See Kin groups.

Flies A fly myth is narrated by the elders of the Wik Mujnggan. In the Dreamtime, there was once a fly man and his wife. They were camping at a place one day, when Tata the frog came to them. I've come for you,' he said. They replied that they were tired and would come with him next morning. Next morning they began their journey and collected honey on the way. They reached Tata's camping place and stopped there. Next day, they went for more honey. they asked the frog to mix it with water, but he refused. They asked him again and he refused again. they began to quarrel and fight. After wounding each other, they separated. It is said that in the fight, Tata the frog received a flat head and the fly a black face and body from being attacked with a friebrand by Tata.

The man and his wife went back to their place and descended into the earth. The man, before going into the earth, said, 'This is the fly's sacred place. Henceforth, when people come here and chase away the flies and thus awaken me, I will send flies into their eyes so that their eyes will become swollen.'

Flinders Range Flinders Range is in the country of the Admyamathanha people, north of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. A large portion of it has become the Gammon Ranges National Park.
The Adnyamathanha elders have a story to explain the creation of the Flinders Range. Long ago the whole country was flat and there was a kangaroo named Urdlu and a suro named Mandya who travelled around the plain. They had a special food, the wild pear root which they named ngarndi wari. Urdlu used to find lots of food and Mandya little. Once the euro came to the kangaroo and begged him for some food. He gave him some and the euro found it delicious. They went to sleep and next morning Mandya followed the kangaroo's tracks until he found where he had got the food from. Urdlu awoke, found him gone from the sleeping place and in turn followed his tracks. When he found him he gave him a good beating. The euro went off by himself and lay down and pulled a pebble from the sore. He blew on it and instantly hills came up from the plain. The more he blew the more hills came up. Urdlu looked and saw the hills coming up. the kangaroo is a plains animal and he became afraid that he would have no home, so with a sweep of his tail he swept the range of hills back where they are today.
See also Akurra serpent; Arta-watarlpanha; Madkandyi the Terrible Whirlwind; P:arachina; Western Desert.

Floods Floods are a frequent occurrence to Australia and they feature in many myths.

The cause of the Tambo river flooding in Victoria is ascribed to Kaboka the thrush. Once, it is related, Kaboka went hunting and only managed to kill one single miserable little wallaby. However, as is the Aboriginal custom, he prepared to cook it and share it with the others. they took one look at the skinny carcase, sniffed it and said that they would not eat it. this made Kaboka very angry. He took it back and told them to find their own food. then he lit a sacred fire and began a ceremony, dancing around it until he raised a terrible storm and the rains began. He kept on dancing and the rain kept on falling until the water spread across the country and drowned his companions. today, when the Tambo river is in flood, it is because Kaboka is remembering that episode and is dancing around his sacred fire. See also Baskets and bags; Frog; Condwanaland; Great battles; Great flood; Rain-making.

Flying foxes Flying foxes are a quarrelsome family, always squealing and snarling as they land upside-down on the branches of trees, hiding by day in the thick scrub and waking at night to plunder fruit trees. They are credited with the invention of the first spear thrower, a device similar in shape to the leg and claw by which flying foxes hang upside-down. Their quarrelsome nature is shown in a myth of the Wik Munggan. In the Dreamtime, the red flying foxes were men. they used to fasten the nose of their spear throwers with gum and, cutting a bailer shell, would stick the pieces on with bee-wax. they used a small spear, a pin with a wooden point and no barb. They also cut acacia wood, whittled down the four wooden prongs and fastened them to the hilt with gum. they shaped barbs from bone, planning them on a flat palette, then fastening them on with string made from the fibre of the fig tree. They smeared their spears with red clay and painted on white ochre, or pipeclay, with the finger. Then they carried them on their shoulders.

Once when they were quarrelling, they began throwing their spears and speared Mukama, a black flying fox. He was speared in the thigh as payback. Mukama did so and killed him. Wuka was laid in a hole and they burnt him in an earth oven, laying tea-tree bark over the top and covering it all over with sand. This is the way flying foxes are cooked today. They stood posts about the grave, on the top of which they placed jabiru feathers, in the middle emu feathers and at the base jabiru feathers again. They laid emu feathers all around and left him there.

The killing of Wuka began a vendetta in which one of the black flying foxes was killed. they dug a hole, buried and burnt him, then set up two poles over him, one at the head and the other at the foot. The vendetta continued until they all sank into the ground. thus began the species of flying foxes. The place where the flying fox ancestors went into the ground became a waterhole. People hit the water with the flat of their hands and say, 'Let there be plenty of flying foxes everywhere.'

Fogarty, Lionel See Cherbourg Aboriginal settlement.

Fomalhaut The Formahut star was believed by the many Koori tribes to be the moiety ancestor Eaglehawk (see Eaglehawk and Crow).

Freshwater turtle See Echidna.

Frog Frogs are associated with water and in dry arid regions in times of scarcity of water, there is a frog which gorges itself with water then buries itself into the ground and waits, perhaps for years, for the next rainfall. The Aboriginal people know this and when there is a drought, they dig them up for water. The frog has entered mythology as a great driner of water and once it is related he drank up all the water in the world. There are a number of  Koori myths about Tiddalick the frog; here are a couple.

This is the account of the Kurnai Kooris of Gibbsland, Victoria. Once Tide-lek (Kurnai spelling of Tiddalick) had been sick and drunk so much water that he had drunk up all the water in the world. There was none left for anyone else. Tide-lek wanted to relieve the others' suffering, but could not bring up the water. finally, it was decided that one way of making him disgorge the water was by making him laugh. Everyone tried and failed. At last No-yang the eel began to dance on his tail, and wriggled so much that Tide-lek laughed. all the water gushed from his mouth and caused a flood in which many were drowned. Others escaped by taking refuge on high ground.

Borun the pelican decided to save the survivors. He made a large canoe, rescued the marooned groups and brought them back to the mainland. On one island, he found a female he wanted as his wife. However, she was frightened of him, so she wrapped a log in her possum skin rug and placed it near the fire so that it looked as though she was lying there asleep. When Pelican came, he called out to her, received no reply, felt the possum skin rug and found the log of wood. Beside himself with lust and anger, he decided to avenge himself on everyone. He began daubing himself with white ochre, but as he was doing so, he turned into stone and is now White Rock, the northernmost islet in the Seal group, about eight miles south-east of Rabbit Island, east of Wilson's Promontory. Before this all pelicans were black, but now they are black and white, owing to the pipe-clay their ancestor used.

In eastern Australia there is a similar myth about Tiddalick the giant frog. In the beginning, the Dreamtime, there was no water, and everything was dying of thirst. All the waters were contained in Tiddalick the giant frog. The ancestors came together to discuss how to bring water into the world. They knew that Tiddalick had swallowed all the water. How to release it? They decided that he had to be made to laugh. A worm ancestor tickled him and Tiddalick opened his mouth and his body shook with laughter. Out came the waters, and filled the rivers, streams, billabongs and waterholes. The creatures happily quenched their thirst and vegetables began growing. the Giant Frog laughed and laughed, so much so that he lost his voice. It became a hoarse croak and today this reminds the Kooris of the time when the earth was parched and dry.

See also Echidna; Flies; Great corroborees; Southern Cross; Two Brothers.


Gaiya See Giant dogs.

Galaxy The galaxy is said by the Wotjobaluk Koori people of "Victoria to be the smoke of the campfires of the ancestors. The dark spot near the Southern Cross is the place where the giant Dreaming tree of life was fastened and enabled men to ascend to the sky world. See also Stars and constellations.

Galiabal See Bundjalujng nation.
Gallerlek See Aldeharan.
Gambad See Djamar.
Gammon Range National Park See Flinders Range.
Gayandi See All-Fathers.

Gender roles Gender roles are a part of Aboriginal culture, for one of the Aborigines all-abiding dualities is that between man and woman, more or less symbolized in the woman as gatherer, man as hunter, although it goes back to a basic model of woman as child-bearer or womb-bearer and man as barren, unable to bring forth life.

During her fertile years woman is connected to the cycles of the Earth. Her role and disposition are identical with the functions of the Earth: life-giving, nurturing, healing, maintaining and giving men, are life-givers and protectors. The role of men differs, precisely because they have no womb and no natural blood flow. This means that the men must get in touch with the great mysteries and energies of life through ceremonies. to remain in touch with the fecundity of nature, a man must develop and keep in contact with a more abstract spirituality, symbolized by the great archetypes, in order to maintain his connection to the natural and creature processes. See also Earth; Earth, water, fire and air; gunabibi ceremonies, Initiation process; Menstrual blood; sun; Yams.

Gertuk the mopoke See Two Brothers.

Giant dogs The mythology of giant dogs is found all across Australia and there is one story from the far north of Australia. Mornington Island off Cape York peninsula which has been related by Dick Roughsey of the Lardil people. He published a children's version of the same myth under the title The Giant Devil Dingo. Dick Roughsey related how the dog came west to Cape York and Mornington Island and said that there were two dog Dreamings, one on Mornington Island itself and the other on the smaller Denhan Island. His version differs from the myth found on the mainland.

In Dick Roughsey's version, an old grasshopper woman, Eelgin, came from the west with the giant dog Gaiya. They both hunted humankind for food. Once when Gaiya was out hunting two young men, butcherbird brothers came to the old woman's camp. They spoke to Eelgin, before becoming alarmed and running off. Gaiya returned and the old woman sent him after the two butcher-bird brothers. He followed their tracks, loping after them with giant strides, across Cape York peninsula, drawing nearer and nearer. 

Finally the butcherbirds decided to ambush the giant dog at a place called Bulinmore, a big rocky pass through the hills. The dog came along and behind him came the old grasshopper woman, hobbling along with a stick. The butcherbirds began spearing Giaya and kept on until he was dead. They then called for all the people of the country to come and have a meal of cooked dog, then cut off the tip of his tail (in which his spirit resided) and sent it back to the old woman. The angry spirit bit Eelgin on the nose before the butcherbirds came down and killed her. they then sent her spirit to a place near Barrow Point, where she became a large rock. The marks that Gaiya's spirit made when biting her can be seen on the noses of all grasshoppers. The body of the giant dog was divided up and the shaman, Woodbarl the white cloud, asked for the kidneys, the head and all the bones. Later he took the bones and also the skin to the top of a mountain where he made two small dogs which would be friends of humanity.

In the mainland version, as related by Tulo Gordon of the "Giuugu Yamidhirr people, the butcherbird brothers are replaced by the two magpie brothers and the old woman is replaced by a carpet snake, and thus connects up with the Melatji dog myths across the continent in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The magpie brothers do not kill the giant dog or the carpet snake, but simply forbid them to kill human beings. the lonesome howl of the dingo is a cry of repentance for the killing and eating of human beings. See also Djamar; Panachilna.
Gidabal See Bundjalung nation.
Gigu-Almura See Cape York peninsula.
Gigu-Imudji See Cape York peninsula.
Gigu-Warra See Cape York peninsula.
Gigu-Yalandji See Cape York peninsula.
Gin-Gin See Mornington island.

Ginibi, Ruby Langford (1934-) Ruby Langford Ginibi was born at Box Ridge Mission, Cotaki, in northern New South Wales and is an elder of the Bundjalung people. She has written a number of books and her best known work is My Bundjabuhng people (1994). See also Bundjalung nation.

Great corroborees Tulo Roberts of the Guugu Yimidhirr people of Cape York peninsula relates the myth of the great corroboree or series of ceremonies which occurred in the Dreamtime. It is a peaceful counter to the great battles which occurs in other myths. In the Dreamtime all the creatures of the earth and water came together for a great series of ceremonies, but they picked an area which had no water and after three or four nights they began to feel very thirsty. They searched for water and found none. Only the two turtle sisters, the Dugal sisters, did not join in the search. They had a secret supply of water and used to sneak off and quench their thirst. The other dancers noticed them sneaking off and set spies to watch them. They sent Dhagay the sand goanna, they sent Balin-ga the porcupine or echidna, they sent Frilled Lizzard, then Carpet Snake. All failed. Finally, they decided on subterfuge and selected Walanggar the death adder to watch the sisters. He was successful. he saw the two turtle sisters poke each other in the chest, then drink their fill of the water which poured out. He told the others and they made plans. They decided to pick the best dancer. Burriway, the Emu, with his long legs, danced first, but he was not fast enough, then Kangaroo, Gadarr the wallaby, Gangurru the Wallaroo and even old Balin-ga the echidna had a go, but they were all considered too slow. At last Dyaydyu the kangaroo rat was called on to perform. He began a shake-a-leg dance called Yimbaalu. he was judged the fastest and best, and the animals made plans for the next night's performance.

The next night, Dyaydyu lead the dancing while the two turtle sisters, as is the custom, sat with the women and joined in the clapping and singing. They sat right in the front row and Kangaroo Rat led a row of dancers towards them. When he came close, he suddenly leapt up and kicked the Dugul sisters right in their loins, one after the other. Water sprouted out from their bodies and flowed over the ground and keep on flowing until it had created lagoons, creeks and waterholes in every direction.

At the end of the corroboree, the sea and land animals exchanged skins. Crocodile and goanna traded skins, for water. Sea Urchin traded his hard spikes with Echidna or Porcupine, whose soft spikes were more suited to the sea. Even Ngawiya the big sea turtle traded shells with Land Tortoise, but Tortoise was in such a hurry to try on his new shell that he put it one back to front. Afterwards the creatures separated and returned to their habitats and they remain there to this day. See also Echidna, Frog.

Great Father deities See All-Fathers.

Great flood Myths of great floods are bound all across Australia. the mythology of the people of Kimberley stress a great Dreamtime flood which wiped out most of the population of the world. Daisy Utemorrab tells of the time when the people were all drowned. Long ago in the Dreamtime, a group of children began teasing Dumbi the owl, a sacred bird connected to the Wandjina. they tortured him, but at last he managed to fly away and to the Wandjina where he complained of his treatment. The Wandina became angry and sent thunder and lightning and rain. The rain fell and fell, and the waters rose and rose until all the people were drowned, except for two children, male and female, who managed to grap hold of the tail of a kangaroo and thus were carried to higher ground. Daisy Utemorrah says that it was from these two children that humankind continued. See also Floods, Gondwanaland; Wallunggnari; Yarra river and Port Phillip.

Great Mother The Great Mother to many Aborigines is the Earth. To others she is Ganabibi or Kunapipi. She appears to have been introduced to Arnhem Land from Indonesia when Indian Tantric cults were introduced to Java and Sumatra and flourished there in many centuries. See also All-Mothers.

Ground carvings and sculptures Ground carvings and sculptures are part of the ceremonies of certain Arnhem Land people as well as the Koori people of southern Australia. In the Djanbidji series of funeral ceremonies, the ground is excavated in the shape of a boat in the centre of the bono ground and the hollow log coffin. Badurra, is erected to stand within the shape as if it was a mast of a ship. It is symbolic of the soul's journey across the seas to the Island of the Dead. In south-eastern Australia, the Kooris used carved and sculpted ground designs in their elaborate bono man-making ceremonies. The carvings included representations of reptiles, animals and men and woman as well as abstract designs. Huge earthen figures of Biame were also moulded. Some of these figures were over 20 metres in length. The huge earthen figure was shown to the newly made men by the elders, who explained his laws and the penalties for breaking them. See also Ground paintings; Rock engravings.

Ground paintings The ground paintings of central Australia have been the inspiration for the modern acrylic paintings. Ground paintings are part of the religious ceremonies of the Aboriginal people. First of all an area of ground is smoothed out and made ready. Sand clay, ochres and other materials such as sticks, bird down, hair, giant fibre and blood are used to create the installation which is a number of elaborate designs incorporating concentric circles, furrowed lines and raised sculptured forms. The designs represent the ancestral beings and their journeys and adventures. See also Bark paintings; Papunya Tula art; Rock paintings.

Gubba Ted Thomas Gubba Ted Thomas is an important elder and custodian of the lore and traditions of the Yain people of south-east New South Wales.

Galibunjay and his magic boomerang This story is related by story-tellers at the Yarrabah Aboriginal settlement. Gulibunjay was a Dreamtine man who had a son, Wangal, who was a living boomerang. Once he threw the boomerang towards the ocean. It went around in a great curve and cut a path through the forest before swinging back to the ocean. It first hit a staghorn fern, then a red penda tree. Gulibunjay followed along the great swathe cut in the forest by his son, the boomerang. he went along searching for his son and naming the various plants and animals and natural features of the landscape. When he came to the sea, he knew that his son had drowned, so he sat down on a mountain where he remains to this day, looking down at the sea and yearning for his son. 

Gumbainggeri See Bundjalung nation.

Gunabibi (or Kunapipi) Gunabibi is an All-Mother deity, similar to the Greek goddess Demeter, whose cult and ceremonies have spread widely in northern Australia, crossing boundaries and encompassing peoples who speak different languages. The cult seems to have come from Asia via the Roper river, adding and adapting other indigenous ceremonies as it spread south. The myth behind the Gunabibi is that of the Wawilak sisters who were devoured by the giant serpent Yulunggul. this appears to have been an indigenous myth which was adapted to the requirements of an imported cult of the Great Mother.

Gunabibi's overseas origin is stressed in one of the songs devoted to her:

Tidal water flowing, white foam waves;
Rain water flowing into the river;
Paperbark trees; soft bark falls into the water;
Rain falling from the clouds;
Swirling over waters;
She emerges to walk on dry land.

See also All-Mothers; Great Mother; Gunabibi ceremonies.

Gunabibi ceremonies Gunabibi (or Kunapipi) is an All-Mother deity who is the centre of an intensive corpus of rites and ceremonies. The sacred Gunabibi ceremonies are extremely secret today, but from published accounts there appears to be linkages with the Tantric cults of India, which in the sixth century AD spread to Java and Sumatra and from there to Arnhem Land.

Gunabibi ceremonies are usually held in the dry season, when food is plentiful, and can extend from two weeks to two months. The ceremonial leaders are usually of the Duwa moiety. A buro circle or ceremonial ground is prepared and when the ceremony is ready to begin, a man swings a bull-roarer. this is the deep-throated roar of the great serpent Yulunggul who came to devour the Warilak sisters. The ceremonial leader calls an answer and this is followed by cries from the women in imitation of how the two sisters cried out when they saw the giant snake approaching. Then there are a number of rituals during which boys are passed through the manhood ceremonies, until finally they are brought into the boro ring to be taught dances by the men initiated into the cult. 

During the night, calls are exchanged between the men and the women in the main camp. Eventually, the men take lighted torches and dance towards the main camp where the women are hiding, under blankets, except for two old women who walk up and down, detailing the foods forbidden to women at this time and also incidents from the mythology of the Wawilag sisters which refer to women's business. then  a large hole is dug on the boro ground into which men go and dance, signifying the animals, birds and vegetables which fled when the Warilak tried to eat them, and eventually the swallowing of the two sisters is enacted out. 

Two or three nights before the end of the ceremonies, the men sit around the fires in the boro ground and begin singing ;parts of the Gunabibi song cycle, and the women enter, some decorated with feathered string headbands. They dance the bandicoot dance, then leave and re-enter. The ceremonial leader of the women erects two objects. One is a post consisting of paperbark bound together with twine; the other is a pole decorated with red ochre. Then follows a dance which refers to the section of the myth where Yulunggul sent lightning while the sisters were in their hut. The lightning split a stringy bark tree. Pieces of this wood flew off and it was from them that the bull-roarer was made.

On the final night, the same dances are repeated and just before dawn, all the Duwa moiety men assemble at one end of the ceremonial ground and the Yiritja men at the other. All the men are painted with white paint and some carry spears. They dance towards each other. The bull-roarers roar and the women shrill from the main camp, then they go to the edge of the boro ground and make a shelter in which the birth of the child by the younger sister is mimed. After this the shelter is knocked down. Then, after having an image of the giant snake Yulunggul painted on their bodies for purification, the men are ritually smoked before returning to the main camp.

The Gunabibi ceremonies are an expression of the sacred mythology which releases the power invested in the ancestral beings and it is an important ritual in that women enter the sacred boro ground in their own right, in fact take the leadershiip to enact the time when ceremonies belonged to the women and not the men. The Gunabibi is as much the women's sacred ceremony as it is the men's, and this is apparent in the central place women's concerns, or business has in it.

Gunya See Barrier Reef.


Hair string Human hair string was used by the Australian Aboriginal people in many ceremonies. A hair string belt was worn by initiated men. In the old days, a Bibbulman youth, on being initiated, was decorated with a human hair band and belt. These were visible signs that he had entered manhood. See also Trade; Waningga.

Hare-Wallaby See Winbaraku.
Harney, Bill See Idumdum.
Healing fire See Fire.

Herbal medicines Any number of medicinal herbs and plants were and are still used by Aboriginal peopla all across the continent. It is not possible to list them all here and as far as I know no Australian Aboriginal materia medica book exists. In Victoria the Koori people used a multitude of herbs in a number of ways for healing properties, steaming, smoking, as infusions or teas, as poultices and vapour baths.

Gulewondenik, old man weed (Centiipeda cunninghamii) grows along the sides of creeks and rivers such as the Murray and is used for colds and chest complaints. Big bunches of the plant are gathered and boiled down. One of two teaspoons are taken and the amount is steadily increased to half a cup a day.
Mootjung or burn-na-luk, blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) is used as a treatment for rheumatism. It is heated over a fire, then infused in water to bathe aching joints.
The aromatic leaves of poang-gurk or tjapwurong, river mint (Mentha australis), are crushed and inhaled for coughs and colds.
Toruk, small-leaved clematis (Clematis microphylla), is called the 'headache vine' and, as its name suggests, is used to relieve headaches.
Stinkwood and sandfly zieria (Zieria arborescens and Zieria smithii) are also used for headaches, the leaves either being bound around the head or crushed and inhaled.
Tjapwurong or river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) is a majestic tree, a grandfather tree with healing properties which may be absorbed by just sitting under it. apart from this, its gum is used to shrink and heal burns and is mixed with water and taken as a cure for diarrhoea. Red gum leaves are also important in aromatic steam baths, a method of healing similar to the Native American Sweat Lodge.

Hermannsburg Mission Mermannsburg Mission or Finke river Mission, 120 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs, was founded by German missionaries in 1877 and was the home of the famous painter Albert Namatjira and the place where the painting of watercolurs by the local Arrernte people developed into a fully fledged art movement. The mission, by then a township, was passed into the control of the Arrernte people in 1980 and is now run by the Ntaria Council. Missions such as these, although they did to a great extent inflict drastic changes on indigenous culture, also allowed many indigenous people to survive the killing times, when it was considered sport by the invaders to go out and kill our people. Often, like the fauna and flora, we were considered only vermin to the exterminated. The missionaries helped to alleviate the sufferings of those times, though we lost many important cultural beliefs and practices, owing to their influence and power.

Hollow log coffins Hollow log coffins were used by the Aborigines of Arnhem Land to intern the bones of their dead. These coffins, which stand upright, are elaborately painted with the ancestral spirits of the deceased. The song and ritual of Hollow Log is the centrepiece of the elaborate Djambidji funeral ceremonies. Hollow Log is seen as firstly a dead tree, then as a coffin and lastly as a living, moving spirit being. It exists too as a humanly created artpiece, a memorial to the deceased person whose crushed bones lie within. See also Bark paintings; Ground carvings and sculptures; Honey; Tree between Heaven and Earth; Woijal.

Honey Honey, which is found in hollow trees in the Djambidji song series of Arnhem Land, has come to symbolize the food of spirit beings who make their homes inside Hollow Log as it transforms itself from a dead tree into a coffin (see Hollow log coffins), then into a living spirit being, transferring the soul to the Island of the Dead. The bones of the deceased become the honey comb itself, and the honey comb and the flights of bees coming to it are signs of the generation and regeneration of all nature, a constant cycling and recycling of everything which exists. See also Crocodiles.

Hydra To the Mara Koori tribes of Victoria the Hydra constellation is Barrukill, a great hunter of kangaroo-rats. On his right and a little above him are two stars. One is a kangaroo-rat and the other is his dog, Karluk. Above these are other stars forming a log. Underneath are stars forming his arm and his firestick. The dog chases the kangaroo-rat into the log which Barrukill sets fire to. He kills it as it tries to escape then eats it.   


Idumdum (Bill Harney) belongs tothe Wardaman country in the Northern Territory. He is a custodian of the esoteric lore associated with the Lightning Brothers and of the sacred site of Ingelaladd, 100 kilometres west of the town of Katherine. His father, Bill Harney (senior), wrote a number of books about the Aborigines of the Northern Territory.

Iga tree See Adnyamathanba people.
Ilara See Universe.
Injebena See Dolphins.

Inma boards Inma boards are sacred soul-boards of a number of desert peoples. they connect each individual to his ancestors and to the song and Dreaming lines of his country. apart from this, inma boards are magic weapons. They come directly from the ancestors. According to Western Desert Aboriginal communities, the long line of dark patches in the Milky Way between Centurius and Cygnis represents the sacred inma board that the ancestors called the Two Men, Wati Gutjara, made and flung into the heavens as sung in the song verse: 'Pulina-pulina kaduana wanala rawu janani warai.' Pulina-pulina refers to the dark patches of the Milky Way. A translation might go: 'Into the sky, a long way away journeys the inma.' See also Bull-roarer; Rangga; Tjuringa.

Ingelaladd Ingelaladd is a sacred place, 100 kilometres west of the town of Katherine in the Northern Territory. It is where the Lightning Brothers descended into the earth. There are many rock art images here and images of the ancestral beings are imprinted in red ochre on the walls of a cave.

Initiation process The great initiation law ceremonies of male coming of age varied across the continent. Amongst the Bibbulmum it was a lengthy educative process during which the septum of the nose was pierced to signal a final stage in the process. Among other peoples, tooth evulsion and circumcision were practised towards the end of the ceremonies. Often the entire process took place over several years, during which time the initiate was taken across his land, usually by a maternal uncle who taught him the routes of the ancestors and the songs and stories detailing them. The initiation process is still important among many Aboriginal groups, though since the invasion there have been vast changes and the process has been considerably shortened.

In the northern parts of Western Australia the initiation process was particularly elaborate and began at the age of eight or nine when the boy went to stay in the unmarried men's camp. the first stage of initiation began when the older men - who may be grandfathers, fathers or maternal uncles, according to the kinship system - decided that it was time for the boy to be put through the law. The process began with a ceremony during which a small pointed kangaroo bone was thrust through the septum of the boy's nose. Next morning the kangaroo bone was taken and a turkey bone replaced it. the strict avoidance of women and girls began at this point. The second stage began when, without warning the boy, the guardian mixed up an ointment made from charcoal and fat and rubbed the boy all over with it. He then placed a hand made of possum for string around the boy's head. (In other areas, it was at this stage that one or more teeth were knocked out.) This second stage concluded with an evening ceremony.

Next morning the boy was taken by the guardian on a circular journey which lasted for some months and returned him eventually to the main camp. they stopped some distance away and the guardian added a little red ochre to his forehead and cheeks before painting his body with a design symbolizing his Dreaming ancestors. finally, a possum for string was placed around the boy's neck and under his right and left arm. His guardian and the other men from the camp decorated themselves and then conducted a ceremony at the boro ring.

Early next morning the boy's female felations cried over him before leaving him with the men. The guardian carried the boy off to a sacred shelter where he underwent the rite of circumcision. He had to stay there until he healed. After eight or nine days, he underwent a smoking ceremony. After the ceremony the men sang sacred songs while stamping the fire out, then ceremonies continued until the following morning, during which the youth received information only known to the initiated men. At none of these ceremonies were women and children or uninitiated men allowed to be present.

After several days the initiate passed through the law and was allowed to return to the men's camp as a full man, able to take part in men's activities and learn the important ceremonies and accompanying myths and songs. It was only after undergoing the process of going through the law, being made a full man, that he was allowed to marry. See also Gender roles; Kulama ceremonies; Moiya and pakapaka; Pearl shell ornaments; Pituri; Scorpio; Wollumbin.

Inneroogun See Dogs.
Inwati See Kulama ceremonies.
Irwardbad See Oobarr.
Island of the Dead In many parts of Australia, there is a belief that there is a stopping place between the Earth and the sky world on an island. For example, Ngurunderi the ancestor is said to have entered the sea near Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia (see Sky world). The souls of the dead followed this route by crossing first to the island to be purified before continuing their journey. Among my people, the Nyungar, Rocknest Island, now a tourist resort, off the coast of Western Australia, is believed by many to be the Island of the Dead and many Nyungar still will not go there. When the Europeans first came to my country, we thought that they were spirits returned from the dead because they were the colour of dead bodies and came from the sea. They thus were called djangara, 'spirits' or 'ghosts'.
See also Bralgu; Death; Ground carvings and sculptures; Honey; Morning Star.

Ita the swamp-fish man See Menstrual blood.


Jabiru See Duwa moiety.
Jaknia See Jirakuipai.

Jalgujmbun (Mount Lindsay) Jalgumbun is a towering mountain in Bundjalung country said to be a resort of shamans. It is a place where the hairy spirit man, Njimbun, resides and he is easily moved to anger. The local Aboriginal people say that one should be careful if visiting the place not to anger Njimbun. People still see him there to this day.

Jandamara (c. 1900?) Jandamara, also known as Pigeon, was an Aboriginal fighter of the Bunuba people who fought the invaders at the turn of the nineteenth century. He is also considered to have been a mahan or shaman. He could not be killed, as he kept his soul in his thumb-or big toe, according to another version - which had been dipped in the powerful waters of a sacred pool. Eventually, he was betrayed and killed by being shot in the thumb (or toe).
Banjo Woonamurra, a Bunuba elder, is the custodian of the history of Jandamara's life.

Jangalajarra snake See Pea Hill.

Jarapiriti The great snake Jarapiri was a creative ancestor and his exploits form the bedrock of most of the central Australian Walbiri people's mythology and ceremonies. Jarapin belongs to the great people's mythology and ceremonies. Jarap;iri belongs to the great corpus of snake myths found the length and breadth of the continent. See also Dogs; Rainbow snake; Walbiri creation myth; Yuendumu.

Jarapiri Bomba See Winbaraku.

Jigara See Bundjalung nation.

Jinabuthina (Pompey) was a Diyari elder who in the late nineteenth century led the fight against the invaders of his country. He was shot when, at the head of 80 warriors, he attacked Umberatana station. See also Dryari people.

Jindjiparndi people See Burrup Peninsula; Ngarluma and Jindjimdi peoples.

Jinijinitch the great white owl See Two Brothers.

Jirakati the white-headed sea eagle See Kalama ceremonies.

Jirakupai The myth of Jirakupai is narrated on Bathurst Island. In the Dreamtime, that long-ago creative period, Jirakupai lived beside a freshwater lagoon. He had married two sisters. Kuraruna and Jaknia. Jirakuipai is credited with being an expert spear maker, of both the large many barbed male spears, which have a row of barbs on one side, and the smaller female spears with their double row of barbs. He had just finished making a number of these spears when a raiding party from Melville Island rushed into his camp and speared him in the back many times. In retaliation, he pulled the spears out and cast them back at his attackers, then he retreated by diving into the water. To avoid capture his wives turned themselves into birds, Kuraruna becoming the night-heron and Jaknia the brown heron which frequents the mangrove swamps.

The next morning, his enemies saw Jirakupai floating on the water, no longer a man but a crocodile. The spear wounds in the back had grown into a spinal crest, his mouth had grown into a long snout and his bundle of spears had been transformed into his tail, on the extreme end of which was his male spear with barbs along only one side.
See also Kuloma ceremonies.
Jiritja See Yirirja.
Jitta Jitta See Willy Wagtail.
Jugambal See Bundjalung nation.
Jugumbir See Bundjalung nation.
Juikulpa See Winbaraku.
Julama See Thomas, Rover.
Jungai See Bandijalung nation.
Jurumu the wedge-tailed eagle See Kulama ceremonies, Mundungkala.
Juwuku See Universe.


Kabi people See Cherbourg Aboriginal settlement.
Kabvoka the thrush See Floods.
Kadigal See Eora tribe.
Kadimakara See Extinct giant marsupials.
Kakaduj National Park Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory includes the area watered by the East Alligator river system. The traditional owners, the Bunitj community of the larger Gagudju people, have leased this area to the Australian government as a national park. The park contains hundreds of sacred sites and has the best rock art I have seen in Australia.
See also Bark paintings; Darwin, Neidjie; Bill; Ocbarr; rock paintings; Warramurrungundji.

Kalkadoon people the Kalkadoon people of Queensland were a strong tribe who waged a long campaign against the invaders of their land. a battle was fought in 1884 in which massed warriors stormed a well-fortified position. they continued the attack, even though suffering heavy casualties, but were eventually defeated.

Kameragal See Eora tribe.
Karatgurk See Crow.
Karluk See Hydra.
Karora See Bandicoot ancestor.

Katatjuta (or the Olgas) Some 50 kilometres west of Uluru, Ayer's Rock, and made up of more than 50 domes of rock, Katatjuta rises some 600 metres above the plains. It is said to be a sacred female place, but is custodians have refused to divulge the mythology and what has been already published may or may not be true.

Men should not venture into Katatjuta, so I have not been there, but from a distance, it appeared to me like the body of a giant female., lying eroded from sunlight and wind since the Dreaming time. Katatjuta has been translated as 'The Place of Many heads' and a number of Dreaming ancestors are said to be associated with the place. chief among these, and symbolized by the largest monolith, is the serpent Wanambi, who lives in one of the waterholes on top of the tor during the wet season, but during the dry season makes his way to one of the gorges and enters the rock. thus at least part of the site is sacred to the rainbow snake and it is forbidden to light fires in the area or drink at the waterhole, lest he become angry and rose to attack.

Many parts of the Katatjuta refer to women, such as the caves on the southern side of Walpa Gorge, which is about 490 metres high. It has been reported that these caves were once piles of cork-wood tree blossoms collected by the corkwood sisters in the "Tjukurrpqa or Dreamtime. On the eastern side are the camps of the mice women and the curlew man, whose myth formed the basis of a fertility ceremony, details of which are not known. One highly spectacular pillar of rock is the transformed body of Malu the kangaroo man dying in the arms of his sister Mulumura, a lizard woman. he was killed at this place by a pack of dogs after his long journey from the west. His wound is an erosion in the rock and his intestines, which spill out, appear as a rock mound at the base of the pillar.
Other stories relate the tale of the Pungalunga men and the ancestral deity, Yuendum, who gave humankind plant foods. All in all Kutatjata appears to be a fertility place of great energy and thus sacred to women.

Katherine Gorge See Kulunbar.

Kimberley The Kimberley region of Western Australia is the home country of a number of Aboriginal communities, including the Worora, the Ngarinjin, the Bunuba and the Wunambul. In the old days these communities only formed at certain times and usually lived in small family groups, sometimes called clans, on their own estates. They were united in a kinship grid and common culture, and came together for festivals and ceremonies. With the coming of the British invaders, the Worora, Ngarinjin and Wunambul peoples were collected together into the Mowangjum settlement just outside Derby.

These shared the same religious belief system, and although their ancestors had given them separate languages, they spoke all three, as they met frequently for intertribal ceremonies. they were divided vby the ancestral Nightjar men into moieties, or halves, but apparently without subsections or sections, as found in other tribes. Wodoi and Djingun, the moiety deities, decreed in the Dreamtime that Wodoi can marry Djingun and Djingun can marry Wodoi. Thus, although there is often rivalry between the two moieties, marriage must always be with a person from the other moiety, so reciprocal relationships are formed which make them interdependent. See also Bunba people; community; Djamar; Djanggawul and his two sisters myth; Dogs; Eaglehawk and Crow; Giant dogs; Great flood; Mowaljarlal, David; Noonkanbah; Palga; Rainbow snake; thomas; rover; Two men myhth; Utemorrah; Daisy; Walmajarri people; Yamadji.

Kin groups (or skin groups, flesh groups) Many Aboriginal communities were divided by the ancestors into what are called sections or subsections, or kin or skin or flesh groups, in that those belonging to the same section are said to have the same flesh, owing to their coming from a common ancestor. By knowing the skin or flesh name of a person, one can know her or his relationship to every other person within the community - community rather than tribe, as these skin or flesh group classifications cross over any localized tribal boundaries.

For example in the Walmatjarri there are eight sections or groups divided by gender. these are (1) Nangala (f) Jangala (m); (2) Nanyjili (f) Jungkurra (m); (3) Nyapurru (f), Jupurru (m); (4) Nyapana (f), Jawanti (m); (5) Nyapajarri (f), Japalyi (m); (6) Namp;ryirnti (f), Jampiyirnti (m). These groups determine marriage partners and on no account should a relationship occur within one's section. this is considered incest and has been banned by the ancestors. thus a nangala woman should marry a jungkurra man; a nanyjili woman a jangala man,; a nyappajarri woman a jakarra man; a nakarra woman a japalyi man; a nangkarti woman a jampiyirnti man; and a nampiyirnti woman a jangkarti man. In this case, there is matrilineal descent, the choice of skin group depends on the mother's group and the groups are so arranged that over the generations a complete circle is made with successive generations passing through the groups. In the case of patrilinear descent, that is, through the father, the father's group would determine the offspring's skin, but this is unusual.

Kinship and skin groups are very important in Aboriginal society and it must be remembered that even in Aboriginal mythology the different ancestors are related to each other according to the kinship or skin patterns and thus part of the mesh of family relationships which unites Aborigines across Australia. See also Community; Kinship; Tribes.

King Brown Snake See Oobarr.

Kinship Kinship forms the basis of all ordering of Aboriginal societies. It may be biologic or what is called 'classificatory'. thus the Aboriginal population as a whole may be said to have been organized across Australia in many families which entered into relationships with each other to form a family or kinship grid all across Australia. There were variations in the classifications, but these could be worked out when the need arose. See also Community; Kin groups; Tribes.

Koala The koala is sometimes called the koala bear. It is a bear-like marsupial which lives in trees and eats only the leaves of certain eucalyptus trees. In Victoria the koala was considered to be a friend and gave helpful advice. There are a number of Koori myths about the koala. One is about the orphan boy Koob-borr, who once during a drought was refused any water by the rest of his people. When he was left alone in his village, he filled all the containers of water from the last flowing creek and hid them up a tree. When the people returned he refused to give them any water and knocked down anyone who tried to climb the tree. Finally, two men caught him and dragged him to the ground. He turned into a koala and quickly ran up another tree for safety. The men cut down the other tree and water flowed back into the creek. From that time koalas became food for the people, but they were not allowed to strip koalas of their skins or use koala fur in ceremonies, because if they did the koala would capture the water again. See also Yugumbir people.

Kolet the dove See Childbirth.
Kongkong the fishhawk See Spears.
Koob-borr See Koala.
Kookaburra See Emu; Taboo countries.
Koopoo See Kulunbar.

Koori The Koori people live in the states of Victoria, Tasmania and the southern parts of New South Wales. In Victoria, in the old days they were spread across the land in 38 district groups, each with their own language. These groups were collected together into five nations. These were the Kulin, the Mara, the Wotjobaluk, the Kurnai and the Ya-itma-thang. Other tribes extended along the Murray river. With the arrival of the European settlers and large-scale massacres, together with the dispossession of their lands, the remnants of the 38 groups were collected into a number of missions without regard to nation, language or culture. Over time the collectivized people called themselves Koori, which means 'people', but the 38 groups still have a nominal existence and revitalization movements keep parts of the old culture alive, though much has been irretrievably lost.

See also Aboriginal and Aborigines; Aldebaran; Altair; Antares; Arcturus; Aurora; Australis; Berak; william; Bootes; Bull-roarer; Bunjil; Canis Major; Canopus; Centaurus; Coma Berenices; Communityh; Cooper, William; Corroboree; Cosmography; Crow; Delphinus; Dorabauk; Dreaming tre of life; Eaglehawk and Crow; Emu; Eora tribe; Fomalhaut; Frog; Galaxy; Gondwanaland; Ground carvings and sculptures; Herbal medicines; Hydra; Koala; Magellan Cloujds; Marmoo; Mundjauin; Murrayh river; New moon; Oyster Cove; Rigel; Shamans; Sirius; Southern Cross; Sun; Taboo countries; Tasmania; Trickster character; Trugerninni; White Ladyh Wirnum; Yarra river and Port Phillip.

Kulama ceremonies The kulama ceremonies of Melville Island are initiation rituals into a religious cult which is open to both men and women. the corpus of rituals centres around the monsoon and yams. Its name, kulama, comes from the name of a poisonous yam which holds central place in the ceremony. The yams, when prepared and cooked in a special manner, are considered to give strength, vitality and good health. The ceremonies date back to the Dreamtime, or palameri (creation) time, when all the animals and birds were men and women. Purutjikini, a boobook owl man and his wife, Pintoma, a barn owl woman performed the first Kulama ceremony on Bathurst Island. they invited Jirakati, later the white-headed sea eagle, and Tupatupini, the small owl, to be present, planning to make them the first initiates. Many other people assisted in the ceremony: the Ningauis, a small spirit people who live in mangrove swamps; Inwati, Mauwini and Tararalili, three groups of honey people; Jirakupai the salt6 water crocodile, Narina the black cockatoo and Jurumu the wedge-tailed eagle. A number of ancestral people from Melville Island refused to attend.

The second Kulama ceremony was organized by the Ningauis spirit people on the same island. On its completion they decreed that the form of the ceremony, with its proceedings and initiation, rituals, should always be the same. See also Initiation process.

Kulunbar (Katherine Gorge) is in Jawoyn country in the Northern Territory and is an important nexus of Dreaming tracks and song lines. One of the most important ancestors is Koopoo the red plains kangaroo, who after a number of adventures descended into a deep waterhole and became a rainbow snake. It is said that the gorge was made by him. The gorge is very spectacular with the river winding between towering sandstone walls for 12 kilometres. To the south are the sacred hot springs of Mataranka and to the north are the Douglas hot springs.

Kuringgai Chase National Park Kuringgai Chase National Park is 30 kilometres north of Sydney and owned by the Kuringgai Aboriginal community. It is an area rich in rock art: carvings of whales, sharks and fish, kangaroos and depictions of their great ancestor Biame. See also Rock paintings.

Kutji spirits The Kutji spirits usually dwell in the shade of bushes and in deep holes and show themselves in various forms, such as a black crow, eagle, owl, kangaroo or emu. Birds possessed by the kutji differ from ordinary birds or animals by circling around a person's head or behaving in an odd manner. In warm weather the kutji may be a black rain-cloud or present in a dust storm, thunder or in a distant mirage. these spirits cause sickness, disease, distress and death. Only the shaman can control them. In fact shamans receive their power from them and are in direct communication with them. It is this direct relationship which gives the shaman his or her healing and magical arts.


Labumore (Elsie Ropughsey ) (1923-) Labujmore is a member of the Lardil people of Goonana (Mornington Island) in the gulf of the Carpentaria. She has been actively engaged in revitalizing her culture on the island and has had her autobiography published. An Aboriginal Mother Tells of the Old and the New (1984).

Languages It is not known how many languages were spoken in Australia before the invasion of the Europeans. A figure of 250 is sometimes given, but often language shades into dialect and people often prefer their tongue to be known as language rather than dialect. thus the languages of the Western Desert, spoken over a million square kilometres, can be shown to be related to one another and form a huge network of different dialects, though each community wishes its dialect to be known as a language. The survival of many languages is uncertain, owing to the predominance of English, but there are periodic attempts at language revitalization, as amongst people, the Nyungar, which keep at least aspects of the language alive. In the old days many Aborigines were bi - or multi-lingual, owing to the prevalence of cuotural attributes, such as marriage and ceremony, which crossed over so-called language barriers.

Laura Laura in northern Queensland is a site rich in Aboriginal rock art. The art features animals, birds, spirit beings, shaman and people. The rock galleries have a number of sorcery figures which the desperate defenders drew and sought to use as magical weapons in their resistance against the invaders. In the myths of the area, stories are told of a black bird with a long neck which steals the bones of the dead. On some of the images of the invaders, recognizable by their rifles and revolvers, this bird is standing pecking into their flesh. Laura is also the home of the spirit beings called Guinkin. Each year an important dance festival is held there.

See also Bolung; Gunabibi ceremonies; Idumdum; Monsoon; Rain-making; Taipan; Trickster charactger; Universe; Wandiiiijina; Warramurrungundji; Yulunggul.

Luma Luma the giant Luma Luma the giant gave the designs painted on the chests of the Gunwinggu people of Arnhem Land during ceremonies. These ochre designs are many fine criss-crossed lines forming intricate patterns. Each segment of design represents an area of the man's ancestral country.

Luma Luma is a cultural hero who is said to have come from over the sea from the direction of Indonesia. he was attacked by the tribesmen as a stranger, but taught the people paintings and dances before returning whence he had come. See also Bark paintings, Sleeping giant.    

Lumbiella See Dogs.


Madkandyi the Terrible Whirlwind The myth of Madkandyi the Terrible Whirlwind is narrated gy the elders of the Adnyamatthanba people. It is said that once a huge whirlwind arose in Western Australia and rushed east towards New South Wales. The whirlwind came rushihng towards the Flinders Range, hit them and pivoted around them in a clockwise direction and when it got to the other side, it stopped. this is why all the sand dunes are seen in ridges pointing towards the range.

Magellan Clojouds The Lesser and Greater Magellan Clouds were believed by the Wotjobaluk and Mara Koori peoples to represent the female and male native companion ancestors.

Mangrove woman The myth of the mangrove woman is narrated by the elders of the Wik Munggan people. Mai Korpi the mangrove woman was the ancestor who taught women the way of preparing the edible mangrove seed. It is said that once in the Dreamtime, Wolkolan, who later became the bony bream fish, went to see his sisters. He was tired when he got there and asked his sisters to bring him food, but his elder sister had been making mangrove flour and said that she was tired too. Wolkolan threatened her and she picked up her digging stick and hit him on the shoulder. In return, Wolkolan speared her in the head and the spear stayed in. His sister fled and went to a flat place and into the earth there. It became her auwa, or djang place. The spear was still sticking out from her head, just as the mangrove pod sticks out from its petals. Now women gather mangrove pods andmake flour there, just as she did.   

Marmoo To the Koori people, Marmoo was the evil spirit, in opposition to Biame. he was jealous of Biame's and Ybi's creation and countered this with the creation of insects. Biame came together with Nungeena, the spirit of the waterfalls, to stop Marmoo's plague of insects by creating birds. Nungeena fashioned a pattern of flowers into which Biame breathed life. It became a lyre bird, the most beautiful of birds, and began scratching for insects. Biame created more birds and they destroyed the insects or kept them under control, Biame gave them their voices as a reward for their services.

Marnbi the bronze-winged pigeon Marnbi the bronze-winged pigeon is associated with gold (his blood) and white quartz (his feathers). The Adnyamathanha elders narrate the myth which connects him to these minerals and their mines. Once a man made a net to catch bronze-winged pigeons. A flock of them came along and he flung the net over them. He struck at them with his club, but one of them, Marnbi, somehow managed to escape. He rose into the air and field, dropping feathers and specks of blood as he went. At places where he rested, he left more blood and feathers, and these became a source of gold and quartz. he flew into New South Wales and went north to Mount Isa where the big mine is still operating. See also Opals; quartz crystal.

Marwai the master painter The Dreaming ancestor Marwai the master painter is believed to have been the keeper and distributor of designs in western Arnhem Land. He travelled about the country, carrying chips of ochre colours in a dilly bag hanging from his neck. As he travelled, he rested at various caves and rock shelters, and then he took out his colours, ground them to a fine powder and painted paintings on the walls of caves and shelters which may still be seen today. Marwai was also a teacher. He taught the people he met on his travels how to paint his designs. the great Cunwinggu painter Yirawala, who has been called the Picasso of Australia, gained his skills from Marwai and painted several portraits of the great master painter. See also Rock paintings.

Master Moon See Shamans.

Matchwood tree. The matchwood tree (Erythroxylum ellipticum) is the Dreaming tree of life and death for the tribes of Cape York peninsula. When a person dies it is believed that the soul climbs this tree to the sky world. The body is taken to the clan burial ground and a small matchwood tree is uprooted and the top cut off to leave a metre high stump which is stuck upside-down on the grave. The matchwood has a shallow, flat root system with a main tap-root. The taproot is oriented towards the west, where the entrance to the sky world is said to be. After the third day the soul ascends to the flat-root system, which forms a platform. It is very confused and sits there until it sees the taproot pointing west, whereupon it flies off on that direction to the entrance to the sky world. The entrance to the sky world is in the shape of an inverted y-shaped tree trunk which can be slammed down to prevent spirits from entering. It is guarded by an ancestral deity whose name is secret. The guardian spirit makes the soul laugh so that he can check to see if it has passed through initiation, in which a front tooth is removed. The body of the soul is also checked for sacred signs. If all is well, the soul is allowed to pass through the portal. When a baby is born the mother buries the afterbirth beneath the matchwood tree and as soon as the child is able it is encouraged to climb it. See also Tree between heaven and Earth.

Mbu the ghost Mbu the ghost is the patron of funeral rites among the Ndraangit people of Cape York peninsula. He became the patron as he was the first for whom rites were held. Tyit the fish hawk, Mbu's brother, introduced the sites after he and Mbu had fought over a turtle they had speared and Mbu had been killed in the fight. Tyit covered him with bark, cut open his side and took out his intestines and liver. He tied the body to a long pole, put it across forked sticks and dried it over a fire. there he covered the dried out body with bark and carried it back to their parents. they held a funeral service for Mbu to send him on his way and sang him to his place of rest so that he would not come back to haunt them. See also Death

Melbourne The area on which the city of Melbourne now stands was once an important meeting-place for the three tribes of the surrounding countryside: the Wurundejeri, the Bunurong and the Watharung. Port Phillip Bay, on which the city stands, is said to have been created by Buhnjil the eaglehawk ancestor (see Yarra river and Port Phillip). See also Betak, William, Crow.

Melville Island Melville Island, off the coast of northern Australia, is the home of the Tiwi people. The Tiwis ascribe the creation of the island to an old blind woman, Mudungkala, who crawled over the then bare land and made the island, separating it from the mainland. As her final act, she decreed that the bare land should be clothed in vegetation and inhabited by creatures. She then crawled southwards and disappeared, leaving behind her children, two girls and a boy, who became the ancestors of the Tiwi. See also Bark paintings; Curlew; Cyhclops; Jirakupai; Kalama ceremonies; Mopaditus; Pukamani funeral ceremonies; Spirit children; Sun; Tokumbimi Tokumbimi; Tree between Heaven and Earth.

Menstrual blood Menstrual blood, in all Aboriginal communities and clans, was a source of djang, power and magic. When a woman was menstruating she had to stay apart from the main camp. Amongst the Wik Munggan people, menstrual blood was associated with the rainbow snake, the magic shaman serpent, Taipan. there is a woman's myth or Dreaming story from this area showing the connection between Taipan and women's fertility blood and milk.

Yuwam, the black snake with red under its belly, ran away with Ita the swam-fish man, who was in the category of 'son' to her husband, Tintauwa, the black water snake, and thus they were committing incest. Taipan, as hwer mother's brother and upholder of the law, followed to punish this 'wrong way' relationship. He caught up with her and created a bog or swamp around her so that she could not escape, although Ita managed to run away. Yuwam had daughters who were swimming in a lagoon nearby. They were completely hairless and had no breasts or organs, or periods. Taipan went to them and the whole area turned red. The frightened girls tried to hide, rubbing mud over their heads, their chests and between their legs. They dove under the water and later emerged to find that they had long hair on their heads, tufts under their arms and pubic hair. They also had breasts. Yuwam, the mother, tried to rise from beneath the bog she had been trapped in, but could not. She kept sinking deeper and deeper. Taipan said to her, 'My girl, my sister's daughter, you have received this punishment from your mother's earth.' He smoothed a spot and pulled out some grass and said, 'Some blood, I have brought you, woman. The rest I will carry windward and spill there at my sacred place.' He made a hole in the ground for the blood he gave to the woman and put it there for her. This became 'forbidden' ground. It was at the foot of a bloodwood tree - the menstrual blood. Taipan said that Yuwam would become a snake with a red belly and so she did.

He also put some milk at the foot of a milkwood tree and said, 'When women are grown up, milk shall come to them all from this milkwood tree. People everywhere will come to this place, to this tree, for babies. You will give a girl baby to the women who come here. Girl babies will come from this fertility place of yours, Yuwam.' And Yuwam sank beneath the surface and the place is sacred to her and is a fertility site for women who want girl babies. See also conception beliefs; Gender roles; Sun.

Milky Way The Milky Way is considered by some Aboriginal communities to be a river called Milnguya. In the Dreamtime, Crow and Cat built a fishtrap from stone. It was the very first fishtrap and the model for all other fishtraps. Unfortunately, Crow and Cat caught Balin the barramundi in it and he was eaten by the members of their community. Crow and Cat were aghast when they came to the beach and discovered this. Wahn, Crow, was related to Balin the barramundi and gave him a fitting burial. Placing his bones in a hollow tree, Crow and Cat took the hollow log coffin up into the sky and placed it beside the river, Milnguya, the Milky Way. Then they decided to stay up there too. So now when we look up into the sky, up at the Milky Way, we are stars that are campfires of Crow and Cat. Some of the other stars are the spots found on the body of Native Cat and some are the hollow log-coffin, while the dark-patches are the outspread wings of Crow. See also Dreaming tree of life; Inma boards; Universe.

Millstream pools Millstream in the Pilbara is an important series of sacred sites which were made in the Dreaming by the Rainbow snake. It is said that in the Dreaming two young men caught and ate a ring-necked parrot which was taboo to them. The serpent smelt it cooking and came from the sea to punish them. As it dragged itself along, it made the Fortesque river coming from the north. It cut the river in half by making waterholes at Gregory Gorge. It went underground and when it emerged at different places, it made water-pools. It descended on the boys in the shape of a whirlwind and swallowed them up. The people cried and protested and the giant snake became angry and drowned them in a sudden downpour of water.

Mimi spirits The mimi spirit people are said to be thin stick-like spirits who inhabit the rock crevasses and bush of Arnhem Land, and are similar to the Quinkin found in northern Queensland. They are said to be very artistic as well as fine hunters and they expressed themselves by painting their portraits on the rocks. These are painted almost exclusively in red ochre and range from pale red to darkest brown. They depict the mimi hunting, spearing kangaroos, running and dancing. They are among the finest and most elegant of rock paintings found in Australia. See also Bark paintings.

Mityan the moon Mityan the moon was a native cat who fell in love with one of the wives of Unurgunite, the small star between the large ones of Canis Major. In the ensuring fight, he was driven away to wander ever since through the heavens.

Moiety ancestor Many Aboriginal communities are divided into two halves or 'moieties', which are often named after a Dreaming ancestral spirit who is considered the primordial ancestor of the groups or clans in the moiety, each of which also has its own Dreaming ancestry, so sometimes the moiety ancestor is considered the father and the clan ancestors his sons. See also Eaglehawk and Crow.

Moipaka The moipaka bull-roarer series of the Wik Kalkan symbolize the various phases through which men and women pass, in relationship to either gender, through puberty, marriage to parenthood. Each phase is represented by an ancestral being who gives not only the bull-roarer, but also the djang place where it is energized. A moipaka painted with white spots on a red background represents a young married woman and is used in illicit relationships: it is swung outside the camp by a married man in order to attract a young married woman. The woman is attracted by the sound, but when she is near the swinger quickly hides the bull-roarer, as otherwise it would lose its effect. This moipaka was first made and used by the two cockatoo brothers.

Another moipaka, red with white stripes, symbolizes a married woman who has borne a child. this mother moipaka is swung to celebrate the birth of the first child. There is also a male moipaka which, when swung with the female one, symbolizes the institution of marriage and married life.

Moiya and pakapaka Moiya and pakapaka are two bull-roarers which belong to the Wik Munggan people and there are two others, moipaka (male and female) which belong to the allied Wik Kalkan. The moiya symbolizes a young girl just entering puberty. It is a small, plain piece of wood and is swung by young initiates at the end of the first part of the man-making ceremonies. The pakapaka symbolizes a fully mature woman. It is a longer and broader tongue-shaped piece of wood, painted red and white and fastened to a string. It is swung at the end of the initiation ceremony.

The myth about these bull-roarers concerns two initiates of the first man-making ceremonies, who at the end of the ceremonies break taboos by eating flying fox and speaking to and sharing their food with girls. As a punishment the two initiates are carried off by the flying fox and the girls are swept by a tide downriver onto a rock where two of them find a moiya and swing it as they sing, 'What is this we are swinging into the clouds, which is forbidden? What is this we two are swinging?' Then they place it in the crack of a bloodwood tree with the remark, 'it belongs to us women, we found it. It belongs to us, but let it be. Leave it for the men, they'll always use it.' They then descend into their auwa, or djang place. The myth underlies the initiation ceremonies of the Wil Munggan and symbolizes the awakening interest in the other sex at puberty and how it should be controlled. See also Initiation process.

Molongaceremonies The Molonga ceremonies were similar to the Ghost Dance of the Native Americans and arose in response to the invasion of Australia. The central figure was Molonga, a supernatural revenge demon, and it is said that at the end of the ceremonies the demon swallowed up all Europeans. The ceremonies first came to notice in 1897, when they were being performed on the northern Georgina river in Queensland. From there they spread over the next 25 years to Alice Srings. Lake Eyre and the southern coastline of Nullabor Plain. It is unfortunate that they are no longer performed today, for from all accounts they were most dramatic and different from other Aboriginal ceremonies.

Monsoon (Barra) The north-west monsoon, Barra, is surrounded and explained by a whole circle of myths enacted out in ceremonies and songs. It is connected to the rainbow snake Warramurrungundji and the Lightning Brothers. See also Bolung, Seasons; Universe; Wamamurrungundji; Warlak sisters.

Moon the moon is always masculine and there are many stories explaining his origin. Amongst some Aboriginal groups, the rays of the moon were felt to be harmful to a person. If a man looked at the moon toolong, he would fall into a trance. See also Death; Eclipse of the moon; first woman; Mityan the moon; New moon; Universe.

Mopaditis The mopaditis are the spirits of the dead on Melville Island, according to the Tiwi people living there. they live in the various totemic or djang places on Melville and Bathurst Islands and are similar to human beings, except that their bvodies no longer have substance. They are invisible by day, but appear while at night and can walk on the surface of water. They live in their spirit lands much in the manner of human beings. If a small child dies, its mopaditi stays in the immediate neighbourhood, sleeping with the mother until morning, then leaving when it is daylight. After some months, this spirit child, called a buda-buda, re-enters the body of its previous mother through her vagina and begins life again.

When an older person dies, his or her mopaditi stays around the grave, mourning its relatives, for three days, then after this it sets off to the locality where it was born, which in the old days would have been its totemic or djang site. As it travels, flocks of black cockatoos fly screeching overhead to tell the spirits at its birthplace that it is coming to them. It stays there with them until the funeral services began, then they all go to watch the living perform the dances and ceremonies. At night, when the living mourners have gone to sleep, the spirits enter the ceremonial ground to conduct the same ceremonies. At the conclusion of the final pukaman, the mopatidi returns to its birthplace, where it is treated as a youth and must undergo initiation again. Sometimes the mopaditis contact the living and when this happens a human being's hair will stand on end and his skin go clammy. sometimes the haunted person is paralysed goes into a fit and foams at the mouth. this is called mopaditi sickness and can be cured by beating wads of paperback and pressing them against the sides of the person's face or over the ears until the muscles relax.

Morning Star Bornumbirr, the Morning Star, is represented in Arnhem Land ceremonies by an ornately decorated pole. this pole is tightly bouhnd with string except for the very top and bottom sections. Sacred symbols in red ochre or white ochre are painted over the top of the string and the various feathers on the pole are bound into it. The very to of the pole is painted white and the 'eye' of Morning Star is inserted into it. The rest of the pole is painted with symbols of the different wangarr or sp;irit beings. When a person dies, the spirit is taken across the sea in a spirit canoe which follows the trail of light falling from Bornumbirr. The spirit goes to Baralku (Bralgu), an island beyond the sunrise where it is greeted by the spirits of those who have gone before. The Morning Star is thus a symbol of eternity and the continuance of life after death.

The Adnyamathamba people see the Morning Star, Warta Vurdli, 'big star', as being male and connect it to their man-making rities. Warta Vurdli had two sons. He made a law which forbade boys who had not been made men to eat kangaroo meat. His two sons took no notice of this law, however, and they and their friends ate kangaroo flesh. Moreover, when they hunted, they brought back to the elders only small kangaroos. Warta Vurdli decided to punish the boys, although they were his sons. He took a small kangaroo the boys had left for him and cut it in half. He blew onboth halves and created two groups of kangaroos, blue and red, and let them go. He called his sons to show them the kangaroos. The two boys and their friends rushed off to the hunt. Just as they came upon the kangaroos, he caused all of them and their throwing sticks to float up to the sky. While he watched, he twisted the haft of his spear into the ground, then dropped into the hole in the ground and became the Morning Star. He did this so that he would not be near his disobedient sons. To this day, the Morning Star always rises when the other stars are setting or is setting when his sons and their friends are rising. See also Djanggawul and his two sisters myth; first woman; Island of the Dead; Morning Star song series of Arnhem Land; rom ceremony of Arnhem Land.

Morning Star song series of Arnhem Land The Morning Star song series is a number of sacred songs which are sung in Arnhem Land at important ceremonies such as initiation. An important song about the Morning Star gives its name to the whole series. A rough translation is:

Morning Star comes and confronts the dawn, a cluster of Morning star confronts the dawn, coming from the red ochre country. Morning Star, Bornumbirr, Morning Star is coming, true bone, the substance of Bornumbirr, orange and with a white feathered string bound around her body, around the Morning Star pole.

Mornington Island (Goonana), off the northern coast of Australia is the home of the Lardil people. The creative ancestor of the Dreamtime is Marnbil, who made many of the geographical features of the island. Labumore of the Lardil people tells the story of Marnbil, his wife Gin-Gin and his nephew Dewaliwall. They came from the west to the island and created trees and rocks, fish traps, waterholes and freshwater streams. They gave names to the different foods, sea and land, then at their last camp Marnbil killed Dewaliwall because he made love to his aunt gin-Gin. See also Giani dogs; Condwanaland; Roughsey Dick.

Mother-in-law avoidance In many Aboriginal communities, it was forbidden for the son-in-law to speak to his wife's mother, or often even to notice her presence. See Murray river, Rigel.

Mount Tabletop Mount Tabletop is in the country of the Yuggera people of Quensland. It is now in the Lockyer district and is an important sacred place, though the ceremonies held there have long stopped. In the 1840s it was the base for a resistance movement against the invaders.

Mudungkala was seen as the All-Mother ancestor of the Tiwi people of Melville Island another islands off the coast of northern Australia. She made the islands, coated them in vegetation, then crawled off, leaving her two daughters, Wuriupranala and Murupiangkala, with their brother Porukupali. Purukupali visited one of the homes of the spirit children; the Pitiopituis, and brought some back and gave them to his sisters so that they might have children. Murupiangkala had one daughter, Tikumbuna, who married Wilndu. Tukumbuna had two daughters, Wilunduela and Numanirakala and a son, Tukimbini. Tukimbin 's wife, Waia, gave birth to a daughter, Bima, who became the wife of Purukupali. It was the death of their son, Djinini, which brought the Dreamtime to an end. Wuriupranala had one stone, Wuriuprinili.

In those times there was neither light nor heat and the descendants of old Mudungakala had to grope around in the darkness for their food and, when they found it, eat it raw. It was then thatJurumu (later the wedge-tailed eagle) and Mudati (the fork-tailed kite) discovered fire and Purukupali realized that it was good. Now they had fire to dispel the darkness, to keep them warm and to cook their food. Purukupali gave a torch of bark to the sister Wuriupranana and told her that it was her duty to always keep it alight (see also Sun).

With the coming of light, the descendants of Mudungkala spread over the island and camped at places which would after the end of the ?Dreamtime become their djang centres. While many of the people of the Dreamtime were spreading over the island, the original family and their descendants established themselves on south-eastern Melville Island at Impanali. Purukupali was strongly attached to his son, Djinini, and when his wife, Bima, went out food gathering, she would take him with her, bringing him back to Purukupali at the end of the day, together with the food she had collected. but at Impanali there also lived an unmarried man, Japara, who used to persuade Bima to leave her child asleep under the shade of a tree and go off into the forest with him. One hot day, Bima went off with Japara and stayed away too long. The shade moved and when she returned she found Djinini lying dead from the hot sun. When Purukupali heard of the death of his son, his grief and anger knew no bounds. He struck his wife a blow on the head with his throwing stick and hunted her through the forest while cursing the living beings of the world. He said that as his son had died so the whole of creation would die and, once dead, would never come back to life. Japara remonstrated with Purukupali, telling him that he could restore Djinni's life in three days, but instead of being pacified, Purukupali attacked him. Japara defended himself and in the fight both were wounded.

Purukupali picked up the body of his dead son, which Bima had wrapped in a sheet of paperbark, and walked backwards into the sea, calling out as he did so, "You must all follow me; as I die, so must you die.' The place where he entered the sea became a whirlpool upon which no canoe could live. When Japara saw what had happened he changed himself into the moon. With the entry of death into the world, the Dreamtime came to an end and the present time began. This myth, which I have given in some detail, is the foundation of the elaborate Pukamani funeral ceremonies of the Tiwi.

Mundjauin Mundjauin was a famous shaman of the Kurnai Koori people of Victoria. He received his powers from kangaroo spirits in a grand spiritual ceremony. Once he disappeared from camp and was found next morning in a trance with a huge log across hs back. he was taken back to the camp where he remained in the trance for some time, during which he sang songs about how he had been taken to the sky  world and was being given powerful songs and incantations there.

Murray river The Murray river is Australia's longest river and the Koori people have a myth about how it was made. Totyerguil was a mighty hunter and one day in his travels he reached the place where the town of Swan Hill now stands and camped there with his two wives. Gunewarra, the black swans, and his two sons. The two boys saw a huge fish basking in the sun and told their father. Totyerguil ran to the place and speared the fish, Otjout the murray cod. The spear stuck in his back and the cod rushed to the banks of the waterhole and charged off, making the channel which became the Murray rifer. Totyerguil followed the channel in a canoe, caught up with the cod again and speared him a second time in the back. The cod rushed off, extending the channel, and Totyerguil followed, opening him the back at intervals and at different places along the river. The spears he threw may be seen as the spines along the back of the fish. Eventually near Murray Bridge in south Australia, the coed made a deep waterhole and hid. Later, he escaped into the sky to become the star Delphinus.   

Totyerguil, having thrown all his spears and lost the fish, landed upon the bank where he set his canoe on end and stuck his paddle upright in the ground. The canoe became a huge gum tree and the paddle a murray pine. It is these species of trees that the descendants of Totyerguil use in making their canoe and paddles. Totyerguil now continued his journey and went to the Grampian mountains, where he was to meet his family. he found them on top of a lofty cliff and called to them to jump down. he caught them all except his mother-in-law, Yerrerdet-kurrk, whom he had to ignore because of the mother-in-law taboo. She was inured and as she recovered she plotted revenge. She saw a huge water snake in a deep waterhole and, seizing the opportunity, spread rotten branches and sticks across the top of the waterhole to die it. She added leaves and grass to make it look like a bandicoot's nest., then she called the two boys and told them to tell their father. She told them to tell him not to spear the bandicoot, as this would spoil its flesh, but to catch the bandicoot with his feet by standing on it.

Totyerguil, who had been feeling guilty about failing to catch his mother-in-law, did as instructed. He leapt into the centre of the nest and fell through into the water below. The giant serpent, disturbed, became enraged. It rushed at him and he threw his boomerang at it but missed. The boomerang swirled up into the sky to become the constellation Corona Borealis. The giant snake dragged Totyerguil down into the depths of the pool and he was drowned. Collenbitjik the bull-ant, who was Totyerguil's maternal uncle, jumped into the pool to retrieve the body. He too might have drowned, for the water had become very muddy, but he felt his way out by his fingers, or antennae, which bull-ants have since that time. Totyerguil is now the star Altair and the two smaller stars on either side of him are his two wives. His mother-in-law has become the star Rigel and Collenbitjik's fingers have become the double star at the head of Capricornus.

This is a particularly fine Aboriginal myth and has all the main features of such a myth, though there is much hidden within it, and only the non-secret version is given there. It does show, however, how mother-in-law avoidance came into being and how bull-ants got their antennae, as well as how the Murray river was formed. it also shows how such stories are imprinted on natural phenomena so that the whole universe is a text from which a cultured Aboriginal person can read the myth.  

Murri Murri The name by which all the Aboriginal people Queensland are known.

Mutton bird (Puffinus tenuirostris) The mutton bird, a migratory seabird, has become an emblem of the Tasmanian Aborigines and is harvested for food when it comes to breed along the coastline of Tasmania and the off-lying islands. The importance of the mutton birtds to the Tasmanian Aborigines is told by Laurie Lowery:

I'll try to explain to some of these people from the mainland how the mutton bird travels from one end of the Earth to the other and how they make it in such a short time. When the mutton birds leave, they leave all together. A week before the season finishes, the old birds leave the holes, you see. The young birds are left to fend for themselves by lightening off so they can get into the air.

In the twelve mile radius off those islands they wait, the old birds wait at sea, and when the young birds make it to sea, they meet up with them and they all go on from there.

What happens is, when they hit the air, when they're in flight, there's so many of them, millions of them, millions, and some birds circle towards the centre and another group forms on the outside. That's how they sleep-the birds in the middle sleep and the air currents from the wings of the birds on the outside keep them in flight; it's just like sleeping on an airbed. When the birds on the outside get tired, they

fly into the centre and the birds from the centre go to the outside and it's their turn. That's how they survive.

And it takes them seven days from when they get to the northern part of Japan and Alaska. The only bird that can do that is the mutton bird. 


Namatjira, Albert (1902-1959) Albert Namatjira was a famous watercolourist of the Arrernte people. He was one of the first indigenous artists to receive recognition outside his own community. He was feted throughout Australia and considered to be a symbol of the then Australian government's policy of assimilating all Australian Aborigines into the invader way of life (see Assimilation polity). Up until 1967, when the Australian Constitution was amended by referendum to include all Aboriginal people as citizens of Australia, indigenous people were wards of the state and had no citizenship rights. These had to be earned by the indigenous person, who had to show that he could live as a British person. Albert was given 'citizenship rights' in 1957, but this 'citizenship' caused a rift between him and his family. he rebelled against his position as an 'honorary white', and decided to stick with his family and people. The stress caused by his choice led to his early death in August 1959. 

Albert's paintings are of the vibrant landscapes of the Arrernte country of central Australia and he has become the inspiration of the landscape school of Arrernte painters which continues in the tradition, though now utilizing motifs from traditional Arrernte culture. some of the major artists of this school are Therese Ryder, the masterly Wenten Rubuntja and Gordon Waye. See also Hemannsburg Mission.

National Aboriginal Day National Aboriginal Day is celebrated on the second Friday of July. It is a day of celebration and remembrance of our ancestors, as symbolized by the Tasmanian Aboriginal woman Truggerminni, who died on the second Friday of July 1876. When she died, her skeleton was placed in the Tasmanian museum and kept on display for many years. It was only after years of struggle that the Aboriginal people of Australia were allowed to lay her to rest in the sea as she had wanted.

National Aboriginal Flag The National Aboriginal Flag was designed by Harold Thomas of the Aranda tribe in 1972. The upper black half represents the Aboriginal people of Australia; the lower red half represents the colour of the land and the blood which was spilt when our indigenous Australia was invaded by the British. The central yellow circle is the sun, the giver of all life.

Nimbin Nimbin is a small town in northern New South 'Wales important to the counter-culture and the practice of the healing arts. It is named after Nyimbunji, a strong and powerful weeun, or shaman, who had supernatural powers. The place sacred to Nyimbunji is Nimbin Rocka and the area around it is still energized. Only initiated men and women wishing to become shaman or weeun would visit there. If they passed the tests they would attain shamanistic powers and could communicate with the spirit world on a high level. Stories connected with the rocks are very secret and are only to be told to those who have passed through all degrees off initiation. See also Dogs.

Noonkanbah Noonkanbah on the lower edge of the Kimberley region of Western Australia was - and remains - an important cultural and traditional centre for much of the area. It is surrounded by the tracks of the many ancestral beings of the Dreamtime or, in their language, Ngarranggani. Around the central settlement are land features created by these ancestral beings and places where they emerged from or re-entered the ground. It is an area of many djang or, in their language, malaji sites.

 In 1976, after years of struggle, tghe Aboriginal Yungngora and Kadjina communities regained the area from the previous white owners who had used it as a cattle station. They settled in happily and kept up the running of cattle on the property and enjoyed the freedom of their spiritual life. It was as if all the sacred sites had been returned to them. Yet this was only a mirage, for the Western Australian government, who had kept the mineral rights to the land, gave mining and drilling leases to international companies. During 1979 and 1980, the Noonkanbah community, with aid from all across Australia, fought to protect their sacred sites, but a convoy of police vehicles escorted a drilling rig onto the property and in August 1980, a test drilling was conducted near a sacred site called Pea Hill. No oil or minerals were found there, but the strength of the community was shattered. Aboriginal law had confronted white Australian law and white Australian law, backed up by force, had won. Because of the desecration of sacred ground, some of the Aborigine leaders, those who had been custodians of the site and had been active in the struggle, sickened and died. It is an example of what happens when material gain and indigenous spirituality clash.

North-eastern Arnhem Land The people of north-eastern Arnhem Land have had contact with peoples outside Australia for many hundreds, if not thousands of years, and these connections are recorded in long song circles. The Arnhemn landers, the Yolngu, divide all creation into two halves, or moieties, the Duwa and the Yirutja, a universal ordering which goes back to ancestral spirits from whom all the laws and customs governing the universe, animate and inanimate come.

For the Duwa, among the great ancestors are the Djanggawul and the Wawilak sisters, for the Yiritja, Barama and Laindjung, but there are many other ancestral spirits who create the web of relationships which ordered life in the Dreaming as well as in the present. In Arnhem Land the trips they make are relatively short, as distinct from the long journeys of the desert ancestors, and the ancestors come from the sea to interact with the ancestral spirits already inhabiting the country. It is as if these myths contained in long elaborate songs cycles detail the arrival of real people on the shores of Australia and their interactions with the locals. See also Bark paintings; Djanggawul mythology and ceremonies.

Numuwuwari the giant crocodile ancestor was once a man who came from the countryh of stone. During a time of drought, he dived into a billabong and became a crocodile. Crocodylus prosus, the saltwater crocodile, reminds people of Numuwuwari, if he is their ancestor, when they see the reptile sunbaking on the mud flats or peering out of the water at them. See also Crocodiles.

Nyungar (or Nyoongar, Nunga) Nuyngar is the collective name for the Bibbulmum tribes of south western Australia. See also Bennell, Eddie; community.


Omens Omens, portents and warnings are conveyed to the Aboriginal people in a number of ways, through dreams, trances, unusual physical phenomena and strange behaviour in animals. See also Shamans.

Oobarr Oobarr in Kakadu National Park is a strong law place sacred to King Brown Snake or Irwardbad. Bill Neidjie, the custodian of the site, has said that it was King Brown Snake who made the didjeridoo and told everyone to use it in ceremonies. He represents the male principle and created Oobarr as a strong male centre. In the myth which Bill Neidjie relates, the rock python and her daughter die as a warning that women and uninitiated people are not allowed to go to Oobarr. There are equally strong female centres for Rock Python, who represents the female principle.

Oodgeroo (1920-1993) was an elder of her people the Noonuccals and custodian of her country, the island of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) in the bay of Quandamooka (Moreton Bay). She lived at Moongalba (Old Woman's Place) and is well known for her teaching and spreading of Aboriginal culture. Unfortunately she died in 1993 while I was writing this book and about to go to see her, but I had already learnt much from her about the traditions of her land and enjoyed many a stay sitting at the campfire at Moongalba. See also Curlews; Dolphins; Rainbow snake; Southern Cross.

Opals Opals, like other minerals, have a spiritual value in that they represent a part, such as an organ, a Drfeaming ancestor left behind as a sign of his or her presence at a particular spot. Certain minerals and stones are imbued with the powerful energy of the ancestor. The Adnyamathanha elders relate two stories about opals. The first is about a young boy who was chasing a kangaroo. he caught it at Minipa with his wooden club, then sat down to have a meal. While he ate, he stuck his club in the ground so that it stood up. the club turned into opal stone. This story refers to the vertical or oblique planes of rock in which opal is found, one end of which is on or near the surface. The second story is about Marnbi the bronze-winged pigeon, who threw a firestick high into the air. It landed near Cooper Pidy, an important opal mining area. When it came down and hit the ground sparks flew off in all directions. These became opals.

Orion Orion is Nirunja, an important male figure in the Pleiades myth. He is engaged in an eternal chase after them and is still seen pursuing them in the sky. The stars in his belt and scabbard are a group of young men, the Kulkunbulla, dancing a corroboree.

Owl The owl is believed to be able to smell death. he is a watch bird for baneful spirits for, once aware of someone approaching death, he leads the baneful spirits there. Hence, his coming was a presage of death. This was the belief also for the mopoke.

Oyster and Shark The origin of the Oyster and Shark myth is related by an elder of the Wik Munggan. Once in the Dreamtime the Oyster brothers were sitting on the beach when they saw Shark cruising by after stingray. They called to him, but he did not reply. He returned eventually with a stingray and the brothers stole it from him. A fight ensured in which the shapes of oysters and sharks came about from the wounds inflicted on the combatants, for example the fin of the shark came from a boomerang lodged in his back. The oysters are flat because of being hit by the shark's spear thrower.

Oyster Cove Oyster Cove has become a sacred site for the Tasmanian Kooris as it is where many of their people died. In October 1847, 44 men, women and children, the remainder of the hundreds who had been exiled to Flinders Island in Bass Strait, were transferred to Oyster cove and placed in an old penal settlement. At the end of 1854 only 3 men, 11 women and 2 boys remained. The people continued to decline and the last of the survivors, Trugeninni, died in 1876. A few other Tasmanian Aborigines who had managed to survive beyond the government protection became the ancestors of the present day Tasmanian Aborigines. At Oyster cove the Aborigines' presence can still be felt and it is an important place for the tribal revitalization occurring today among the Tasmanian Aborigines.


Palga Palga is a narrative dance style in the Kimberley region of Western ?australia which has proved a source of continuing cultural vitality to the people of the region. In 1974, cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, smashing the city and leaving over 60 people dead or missing. It was interpreted by Aboriginal people as the anger of the rainbow snake who by this catastrophe warned them not to forsake their traditional law and ceremonies. Within a year, George Mangalamarra at Kalumburu had been given in dream the songs and dances of what came to be known as the  'Cyclone Tracy Palga'. this palga was performed regularly over the next two years throughout the Kimberley region. Among the large painted headpieces or emblems held behind the heads of the performers were panels showing Unggud, the rainbow snake, and a long thread cross figure of the ancestral Wandjina as a serpent.

At the same time as this palga was bing performed Rover Thomas of Warnum (Turkey Creek) was visited by the spirit of a woman who had died in a car accident. This death was seen to have been caused by another snake called Juntarkal. From this and similar visitations Rover Thomas created a palga called the 'Kuril Kuril'. The emblems of these dance sequences were eventually put on exhibition in Perth and caused an interest which led to Rover Thomas beginning to paint as an artist. His work is now much in demand.

Palkalina (c. 1924) Palkalina was a shaman of the Diryari people. although the making of a shaman in Aboriginal Australia is a secretive process about which not much is known, especially as to the ceremonies involved, Palkalina has left as a short account of the process:

He, the spirit, has many followers. During the daytime he is secretive, hiding in deep holes, creek beds, valley, thickly-timbered country, deserted places. In the night-time he always walks, but does not do so during the day. When the weather is very hot, he goes into a black rain cloud. He is also secretly present in dust-storms., during thunder and is the mirage one often sees. He lives in hollow trees along with the bones of men. People are frightened of him when he walks about in the form of a bird. Only one person is safe from the spirit, the leunki, the shaman. And so I thought that I would get a kunki to show me his art, I could then be made one.

Our kunki and I went to a place called Tipapilla. there we met a strange kuriki who resembled the spirit. When I saw him, I shivered with great fear. Suddenly the spirit disappeared, but returned almost at once. I became very hungry. The first day of our seclusion on the bush, with the spirit, at Tipapilla, he gave me food that I had never had before. It was called kujamara, or 'spirit's food', which was native tobacco. He then read my thoughts, and saw that I desired other people, but only of the spirits. I then returned to my companion, the kunki. I spoke to him in a confused manner. He questioned me: 'What are you?' To which I replied: 'Many spirits.' He then said, 'You are now a kunki. In time, I believe that you will be a good one.'

On the second day I went back into the bush and the spirit came to me and performed certain rituals which I learned. I then returned to my companion . See also Shaman.

Papunya Papunya settlement was set up by the Australian government in 1959 as a concentration settlement for the Warlpiri, Luritja, Anmatyerre and Pinupi peoples, who were still living their traditional life along the fringes of the Western Desert. The people languished in the settlement under the assimilation policy, but in 1971, under the influence of a schoolteacher, Geoff Bardon, the men began painting their traditional Dreaming stories and this resulted in an explosion of what has come to be known as the Papunya Tula style of Aboriginal art (see Papunya Tula art).

With the demise of the assimilation policy and the struggle for land rights which resulted in Land Rights legislation being passed in the Northern Territory in 1976, the artificial settlement began to wither away, with people going back to their traditional homelands. this has resulted in the spread of the Western Desert style of acrylic art throughout the region.

Papunya Tula art Papunya Tular art is named after the settlement of Papunya where this form of artwork began in the early 1970s when men of the Walpiri began putting their Dreaming onto boards and canvas using acrylic paint. The Western Desert has long been known for decorated boards and stones known as inma, elaborate ceremonial decorations and head-dresses and ground or sand paintings. Papunyha Tula art makes uses of many symbols and designs, which change their meanings according to the context in which they are used. The most common symbols are the circle - which can mean a waterhole or campsite among other things - and the sinuous line or lines representing a path, track or stream. The symbols are used to tell stories of the Dreamtime and the ancestors. They are also stylized maps of certain parts of the country belonging to the artist.

The pictorial style is distinguished by the use of dots to create surface patterns and visual texture. This is a direct extension of sand painting, in which small particles of matter such as coloured down, pulped seeds on plants, as well as ochres and other material are used to form an elaborate pattern on the ground similar to an 'installation' (see Ground paintings). I remember in 1988 seeing in Western Australia an installation formed from such material by a desert artist, a Wonghi. The Papunya movement has produced a number of famous artists, such as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, and has spread through much of the Western Desert, with different styles bing produced though using the same dot techniques.

Parachilna Parachilna is an important red ochre deposit in south Australia. According to myth, it is where the dog and gecko fought, and the blood of the dying dog turned into an ochre deposit. The Adnyamathanha elders narrate how in the Flinders Range in South Australia there lived a gecko lizard named Adno-artina. Every day he would climb a high peak and challenge everyone to do battle. Marindi the giant dog heard his challenge. He bounded up the valley towards the gecko, barking his answer. Adno-artina looked at the giant dog, at his huge jaws and pointed teeth, and decided to play the trickster.
'I'll fight you later,' he said.

Marindi growled, 'Yes, you'll make a meal for my puppies.' He curled up at the base of the hill and went to sleep. Adno-artina waited until dark, then he issued his challenge again and, just to make sure that he would not lose his courage, he tied a magic string about his tail. Marindi leapt up and tried to seize Gecko by the back of his neck to shake the life from him, but Gecko was too quick. He ran in beneath the dog's slavering jaws, seized the dog by the throat and hung on. Marindi tried to shake the lizard off, but could not. The sharp teeth ripped into his throat, red blood spouted out and formed the red ochre deposit found at Parachila today. Marindi, the dog of this myth, appears to be one of the Melatji Law Dogs whose Dreaming tracks start and stop over much of Australia. See also Dogs; giant dogs.

Parraruru (Robert Churnside; ?-1970s) Parraruru was an elder of the Ngaluma people and a great story-teller and singer of traditional songs in the form called djabi. He was a fountain of tribal knowledge, some of which has been preserved in the Institute of Aboriginal and Islander Studies in Canberra, the capital of Austalia. See also Burrup Peninsula.

Pea Hill (Umpampurru) is an important sacred site to the Aboriginal community of Noonbanbah. It was here that the creative hero Unyuu and the two snakes he fought went to earth. In their fight they had carved out the Fitzroy river. the battlefield was crossed by the track of Naangala, the pregnant wife of the giant Jangalajarra snake, in her travels north to her final nesting-place. The Looma the blue tongue lizard woman stopped here on her journey in a north-westerly direction to her final resting-place on a small hill over looking the Lojoma Aboriginal community. through these associations Pea Hill became a powerful djang or malaji site and is the djang place of a powerful female spirit. 

Pea Hill is also the djang place for snakes, frogs and goannas. The ritual expert responsible for the site can open the hill and enter it, providing the female spirit custodian there permits it. Inside, he approaches her and urges her to see to the propagation of snakes, frogs and goannas. At one place on the hill goannas are summoned from the surrounding area and placed within the hill. At certain times these goannas are released from the hill to keep up the species and provide a food source. Pea Hill was also the keeping-place for a number of sacred objects (including inma boards) and thus it was important for a number of reasons. there was much consternation in the community when in 1980 an area nearby was drilled in the search for minerals and oil. In spite of a nationwide protest the drilling was allowed, with a resulting loss of confidence in Aboriginal customs, laws and spirituality (see Noonkanbah).

Pearl shell ornaments Pearl shell ornaments were used in north-western Australia as a pubic covering or decoration by youths undergoing initiation. At the conclusion of the ceremonies, they were traded over the western half ot e continent south to the coasts of the Great Australian Bight. Many of these shell ornaments were decorated with an interlocking key pattern. See also Initiation process; Trade.

Peewit In Cape York peninsula a myth is related about two birds, Peewit and Willy Wagtail, who quarrelled because P:eewit's wife, the waterlily woman, was having an affair with the willy wagtail. They came to blows and fought with burning ashes. Peewit was badly burnt in the fight. At last they stopped and talked things over and decided to go to their respective djang places. Now the peewit and willy wagtail have black feathers from the fight and the peewit sits aloft in a tree where he can see all around and call out a warning when he sees wives who are being unfaithful to their husbands.

Pituri (or Pitchuri) (Duboisia hopwoodii), also called 'native tobacco', was an important drug. It was used as a stimulant and intoxicant by older Aboriginal men, especially during long ceremonies. In some areas it was used in initiation ceremonies in the making of shamans, where it was used to make the initiate sensitive to the presence of spirits. It was traded over a large area of Australia.

Platypus Amongst the Kabi Kabi people of Queensland there is the myth that once Platypus were dinderi (little men) who travelled along the Brisbane river catching and eating water snake. They travelled from place to place and lagoon to lagoon until they reached Mairwan Lagoon, where the water snakes managed to overpower them and turn them into the first platypus.

Pleiades (Kungkarangkalpa) The Pleiades are an important group of stars which form the basis of a similar myth all across Australia. They represent a group of young women, seven sisters, who are pursued by Orion. In the desert communities, this is considered a woman myth, though the group of women have connection with many of the other ancestral beings belonging to men's business. In the desert area around Kalgoorlie, it is related that once the seven sisters decided to visit the Earth and flew down. they looked for their favourite plateau to land on; but found their landing-place covered with little men called Yayhart. They called to them to get out of the way, but they refused. The sisters finally landed upon another hill. The Yayart men saw where they landed and decided to capture them. The sisters ran off and eventually the men grew tired of the pursuit, except for one. He kept on following them and following them. At last one of the sisters left the group to find water. The man followed her. She found water and was drinking it when she heard the faint sound of a foot being placed carefully on the ground. She looked up, saw the Yayarr man, and raced off. He charged after her and finally caught her. She yelled and screamed. He picked up; a stick to quieten her and swung it. The woman jumped out of the way. he swung the stick again and again and missed and missed. The marks of his stick can still be seen on the side of a hill in that country. finally, the woman escaped back to the hill where she and her sisters had landed. They had gone. She looked up into the sky, saw her six sisters there and rose to join them. The Yayarr man followed after and became Orion.  

When the Pleiades are seen at dawn, it is said that this is a sign that the cold season is coming. See also Aldebaran; Crow; Emu; Sirius; Two Men myth; Western Desert.

Pukamani burial poles A unique feature of the Tiwi people's Pukamani funeral ceremonies is the planting of a number of decorated and carved poles in the ground which after the service are left to decay. A wide variety of designs are used and the shapes of the poles are said to be stylized sculptures of forks or limbs of trees, breasts of women, rocks on the sea-coast and windows and doors (the pieces cut out from the poles). The symbols painted on the poles refer to the landscape of the island and many other things such as certain species of fauna and flora. Sometimes one of the burial poles is in the shape of a human being and this is placed at the head of the grave. This is because when the soul leaves the grave he will see the sculpture and, thinking it a living being, will stop to talk to it, saying farewell before he goes on his way. See also Bark paintings; Tree between Heaven and Earth.

Pukamani funeral ceremonies The Pukamani funeral service is an elaborate series of ceremonies which were first performed in the Dreamtime for the ancestral hero Purukupali, the man who brought death into the world when his son Djinini died. When a relative, Tukimbini, heard of this, he sent a message stick to Talinini of the honey people of Bathurst Island, appointing him the ceremonial leader of the burial rituals. Those who lived nearby he made workers. It was their duty to cut the burial poles which are a feature of this ceremony (see Pukamani burial poles), make and and paint the large ceremonial baskets and the elaborate pukamani spears as well as to clear the burial ground near where Purukupali had entered the sea and drowned (there was therefore no grave to keep clean as is the case when there is a body). 

The party who cut the poles consisted of fresh water, fire, honey-eater, saw-fish, mosquito, shark and mullet men. Two turtle women made the large baskets and a honey woman made another basket which was decorated by two honey men. With the working party engaged in their tasks, Talinini sent specially carved message sticks to the various groups of people on Melville Island and Bathurst Island. They were to assemble at certain places, then move to Tapararimi where the funeral service was to take place. Along the way they were to perform the preliminary ilania ceremonies - ceremonies dealing with the ancestors which led up to the final funeral ceremonies. The groups of people came together at Rulijunga, where they performed another ilania before going to the final place. After a ceremonial fight between the visitors and the workers, who were seen as mopaditis, spirits of the dead, the final ceremonies were performed at the burial ground where five pukamani poles had been erected. Everyone decorated themselves and both men and women moved to the grave.

The end of this first funeral service also marked the end of the Dreamtime. The mythical or Dreamtime ancestors returned to theor camps and transformed themselves into the various birds, fish, reptiles, heavenly bodies and inanimate objects of the present. The first Pukamani funeral service was thus more than a service for Punukupali. It was also a service of the ending the Dreamtime period and the advent of a new age. It is this aspect which is still remembered in the elaborate rituals which accompany the sending off of the deceased. See also Curlews; Dhambidj song series of Arnhem Land

Pungalunga men The Pungalunga men were cannibal giants who lived in the Dreamtime. They hunted human beings for food and returned to their camp with the bodies tucked in their hair string belts. "They were destroyed after the great battle at Uluru when they allied themselves with the vanquished in a bid for revenge. Only one giant was l3ft and some accounts say the shape of Katatjuta is that of the heads of the animals and humans he killed. One day the remaining giant Pungalunga came across the camp of mice women who had never seen a man before. Pungalunga asked them why there were no men about and the leader of the mice women, who was taller and larger than the others, replied that she hadn't known that men existed until he came along. What are men for? she innocently asked. 'I'll show you,' he replied and grabbed and raped her. The mice woman screamed and bit him on the lip. All the other mice women started shouting and, as they continued, turned into dogs, or dingoes, and attacked him. He struggled to fight them off, for although he had killed many animals before - emus, kangaroos and wallabies - he had never been attacked by dogs. Finally he turned and ran off in a panic. The dogs followed, snapping at his heels. Puhngalunga calmed down as he ran and saw a tree in  front of him. He pulled it from the ground, rubbed off the branches and bent it into shape of a boomerang. He turned, confronted the pack, smashed the boomerang into their faces and, one by one, knocked out their teeth. 'At long last the toothless dogs turned and ran off. Pungalunga's battle with the mice women took place at Katatjuta and there they may be seen in the features of the rock formations. At the bottom of a cliff are huge boulders which are said to be Pungalunga's bones. 


Qartz crystal Quartz crystal is said to be possessed of magic, properties and when a shaman is made he receives an empowered piece of crystal which he keeps hidden and away from the eyes of the uninitiated. Not only is it used in harmful processes such as bone pointing, but also in effecting cures. The shaman rubs or presses the crystal over the affected part, while chanting a spell. He then sucks the part and extracts a foreign body which is the cause of the trouble. This may be a slither of bone, stone or wood. See also Marnbi the bronze-winged pigeon; Shamans.

Quinkin (or Quinkan; Kwinkin; Kwinkan) are spiritual embodiments of lust, symbolized by the male sexual organ. They are depicted in the rock galleries at Laura, Cape York peninsula, northern Queensland, with very large and often misshapen penises. Once in the Dreamtime, Tul-Tul the plover went hunting, leaving his wife and son in camp. Ungarr, one of the Quinkin, watched the camp and became aroused when he saw the woman pounding pandanus nuts with her legs apart. he crept up, pushed her over and pushed his long penis into her. It was so long that it went right through and out of her mouth. She died and Ungarr in dismay went to hide in his home, a tall, hollow, dead tree. Tul-Tuul was very upset when he found his wife dead, but he brought her back to life and  healed her. To exact vengeance on the Quinkin, he went to the hollow tree, cut a hole in the bottom and filled it with grass and sticks. Ungarr heard him and asked what he was doing, but Tul-Tul said that he was only making the hollow tree proof against the elements. He blocked all the other holes in the tree with pieces of bark, then lit the grass and sticks at the bottom of the trunk. Ungarr was burnt to ashes, except for his very long penis, which was too hard to burn. Tul-Tul chopped it up into little pieces, then threw them all around the country so that each man and woman received a piece. This is how men and women first received their penises and clitorises. See also Mini spirits.  


Rain-making According to Aboriginal myth, clouds are inhabited by spirits or a spirit which controls not only the rain, but wind, thunder and lightning. In asking for rain the shaman directly invokes the aid of this spirit by the performance of a rain-making ritual. He calls on the spirit to give him power to make the rain fall, whirring string a bull-roarer. Goanna fat is rubbed on a youth's body and causes steam to rise, which is said to rise to make rain clouds. The ceremony takes place in a hut in which the elders and the shaman sit. The shaman cuts his arms and soaks up the blood with down, which is then thrown into the air. There are large stones in the hut which represent clouds. After the ceremony is over, these stones are placed in a tree and powdered gypsum is thrown into a waterhole. When these ritual actions are completed, clouds gather in the sky. The ceremony concludes with the pulling down of the hut. See also Akurra serpent; Bundjalung National park; Floods; Great flood; Monsoon; Taipan; Thalu places.

Rainbow snake The rainbow snake is perhaps the most important deity in Aboriginal Australia, being connected with not only all snake ancestors, but also such important All-Father deities as Biame and the Wandjina ancestors of the tribes of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The rainbow serpent is also the giver as well as the guardian of the mystic healing rites of the shamans. Oodgerro, an elder of the Noonuccal community, whose ancestral land is the island of Minjerribah in Moreton Bay close to Brisbane, 'Queensland, makes her the primordial deity of all life, an All-Mother. See also Akurra serpent; All-Fathers; All-Mothers; Bennett's Book; Bolung; Boomerang; Bunyip; Jarapiri; Katatjuta; Kulunbar; Menstrual blood; Monsoon; Palga Wagyal; Warramurrungundji.

Rangga Rangga are the sacred objects of the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land. They are highly decorated poles which were given to the various clans in the Dreamtime by ancestral and cultural beings. They are similar to inma and tjuringa sacred objects and have the same or similar powers. See also Banama and Latindjung myths; Djanggawul mythology and ceremonies; Duwa moietyh; Rom ceremony of Arnhem Land.

Red, black, yellow and white are the sacred colours which were given to the Aborigines during the Dreamtime and, among many other things, represent the four elements. Black is the earth, but, more, it is the marks of the campfires where the ancestors camped and represents the djang, the power found in the strong places of the earth, yellow represents liquid, water and the marks on the back of the great snake ancestor; white represents the sky, the air and the stars, and symbolizes those ancestors who after their work was done ascended into the sky, where they wink down at the Earth as stars (see Stars and constellations). See also Earth, water, fire and air; Red ochre; white ochre; Yellow ochre.  

Red ochre (Wiltja) is the most sacred of colours. In central Australia it is said to be the blood shed by Marindi the dog who died when he fought Adno-artina the gecko lizard at Parachilna in South Australia. The red ochre was considered so powerful here that it was traded far and wide. Red ochre is often reserved for sacred ceremonies, whereas the white ochre, or pipeclay, may be used for what are called open ceremonies. Red is a sacred colour of the Duwa moiety of Arnhem Land. See also Bark paintings; Great battles; Gunabibi ceremonies; Ingelaladd; Initiation process; Mimi spirits; Morning Star; Red, black, yellow and white; sun: Taboo counties; Yellow ochre.

Red waratah The red waratah tree is the official emblem of the state of New South Wales and there is a legend of the Eora tribe to explain how it turned from white to red. In the Dreamtime the Wonga Pigeon ancestor camped with her mate. One day, he went hunting and failed to return. She could not find him and was attacked by a hawk. She was wounded, but escaped and hid among the branches of a waratah. She heard her mate calling and tried to fly to him. Weak from loss of blood, she fluttered through the waratah and her blood stained the blossoms, turning them red. 

Relics of the dead Relics of a dead person were highly venerated by a number of Aboriginal groups, including those of Tasmania. There a skull or bone of a venerated elder was carried and communicated with when problems arose. Bone relics of humans were especially held in great esteem by other shamans, who might use them in healing and harming rituals. See also Death.

Rigel To the Wotjobaluk Kooris the star Rigel was Yerrerdet-kurrk, the mother of Totyerguil (Altair)'s two wives. She never allowed her son-in-law to see her and thus was a visible symbol of the mother-in-law avoidance taboo. See also Murray river.

Rober Carol The star Rober Carol was considered to be the wife of Waa (Crow) who became the star Canopus. The small stars around her were their children.

Rock engravings Rock engravings are by far the most ancient works of Aboriginal artists. These extend all over the continent, ranging from isolated carvings to huge galleries on expanses of flat rock. In the Hawkesbury river area of New South Wales, large carved figures of male ancestors are said to be those of Biame, the All-Father deity of that area. See also Ground carvings and sculptures; Rock paintings.

Rock paintings Rock paintings are found in many places in Australia. Many of them are thousands of years old and from them we may see how our ancestors lived. They are, however, still being painted today. Laura (the famous Quinkan country) in northern Queensland and Kakadu National Park are places where fine examples of rock art may be seen. See also Bark paintings; Kuringgai Chase National park; Marwai the master painter; Mimi spirits; Rock engravings; Yuendumu.

Rom ceremony of Arnhem Land The Rom ceremony is a diplomatic ceremony which was performed in Arnhem Land to establish or reaffirm friendly relations between people of different communities and often of different languages and cultures. At the core of the ceremony is the presentation of a bound and decorated pole by a visiting group of singers and dancers in response to an invitation from a prominent member of the host community. Like the funeral services, the Rom ceremonies are based on manikay or a song series. Requests for rom ceremonies are often sent to renowned singers and may be accompanied by a token of sincerity, such as the umblicus of the sponsor's child, or the sponsor may send skeins of banyan string to behind the pole.

The rangga, the Rom pole, has a special association with one of the wangarr, spirit beings or ancestors, such as Wild Honey in Djambidji or Morning Star in Goyulan. The preparation of the pole takes place in a bough shade, an open framework which is roofed by leafy boughs to keep the sun off while the pole is being decorated, and is accompanied by the singing of many sacred songs. After arriving at the community of the hosts, the visitors construct the bough shade on the outskirts of the community, where the pole is hidden from view, and each evening they perform dances selected from the mankay repertoire such as 'White Cockatoo', 'King Brown Snake' and so on. On the penultimate day, the performers bring out the Rom pole and carry it through the hosts' camp, passing at various points to dance. The performances continue in a central place until lat at night. The following morning the visitors carry the Rom pole to the cam of the sponsor and in a grand performance formally present it to him in the presence of the combined crowd of hosts and visitors.
A Rom ceremony was held in Canberra, the capital of Australia, in November 1982.


Sacred places These are strong (djang) earth places which have been sanctified and energized by the ancestors in the Dreamtime. They are connected by the Dreaming tracks or song lines and are like beads scattered along a thread. They have been described as giant batteries which are constantly giving out energy to keep all species strong and on-going. to destroy them is to destroy some of the earth energy, and thus weaken all that live and breathe. They also have been seen as nodes of energy along the telluric power lines that crisscross the earth. See also Auwa; Djang; Secret/sacred information; Tholu places; Walkabout.

Sagittarius Two stars in Sagittarius were two of the moeity ancestor Bunjul's young men, Tadjeri the brush-tailed possum and Tarnung the gliding phalanger. They represented moeity sections, or clans.

Scorpio the constellation of Scorpio recounts in the sky the penalty for the breaking of the law which forbade a newly initiated man from having sexual relations with women until after he was purified. A young initiate was seduced by a girl and when they were discovered they escaped into the sky. The young man's two teachers followed closely. They flung boomerangs and clubs at the couple, but missed. All of them then became stars. One teacher is the second magnitude star Shauld in the tail of Scorpio and the other teacher is the star close by. The young man and woman are the two small paired stars to the right. The headband of the youth, which he lost in his flight and which symbolises his failure to complete the initiation ceremonies, is the star cluster just below the constellation. It is said that he is vainly trying to regain his headband, but is held back by his lover. See also Initiation process.

Seagull and Torres Strait Pigeons Seagull (Sivri) and Torres Strait Pigeon (Nyunggu) are cultural heroes of the Tyongandyi clan of the Wik Munggan people. It is told that Sivri and Nyunggu once lived on opposite sides of the river Langanama. To Sivri's clan belonged all the seagulls, the cockatoos, the crocodile, the crabs and different fishes. To Nyunggu's clan belonged the white pigeon, the native companion, the black duck the crane and other birds. His daughters are said to be the small mussel shell, the bailer shell, pearl shell and conch shell. Sivri was always dancing. In fact, he did nothing but dance. He created the drum for his dances and made many songs. He made the first bow and arrow; he made the first canoes.

Nyunggu used to send his daughters to get water from the river and they saw Sivri and wanted him. They made signs for him to come to their side of the river. One day he got into his canoe and paddled to Nyunggu's side of the river and climbed a big tea-tree. The women found him there. He put them into his canoe and pushed off onto the river. He went downstream and left one woman who had a sore breast on an island and another on another island where his canoe ran aground. He continued on his journey, walking on the sea. Where he placed his feet islands and sandbanks came up. He made all the islands of the Torres Strait. Nyunggu followed in pursuit of Sivri to get his daughters back but he missed him and continued on into Papua New Guinea where he is to this day. There he taught the people his songs and dances. Sivri himself ended up on Maubiyag Island where he taught the people there his songs and dances. He remains there to this day.

Seasons The Bibbulman people divided the year into six seasons. Summer was birok; early and late autumn were burmoni and geran; winter was maggoro; and early and late spring were kambarang and jilba. In the far North the Buntj people also divided their year into six seasons based on the seasonal changes. These were: Gunumeleng (October-December), the pre-monsoonal season; Gudjwg (January-March), the monsoonal season with its heavy rain; Bang-Gereng (April), the end of the rains, Yegge (May-June), the drying-out season; Wurrgeng (June-July), the cool season, Gurrung (August-September); the hot, dry season. See also Monsoon.

Shamans (bulyaguttuk; maban; mekigar; urngi; weecun; wirnum and other names, depending on the language of the particular group). A shaman is a man or woman who has received the shamanic calling, usually in a drfeam. His duties are: mediating in quarrels; offering advice, foretelling coming events; healing; counteracting negative forces, including inimical magic; and also practising what may be termed 'black magic', including bone pointing. Entering a trance state is an ability which many, if not all, Aboriginal shamans have. During these trances shamans meet spirits, cure patients and fly to the sky world. They also receive (dream) new songs and ceremonies.

Balbuk, a yorga binderr or strong woman, was a shaman of the Nyungar of Perth at the end of the nineteenth century. Her duties consisted of settling quarrels and stopping feuds between families foretelling the success of the hunt and smoking magic into a spear or dog to ensure good hunting. She prophesized from signs such as the falling of a leaf, the snapping of a twig, a bird's cry or the motions of a whirlwind, or Willy Willy. the KKurnai Koori people of Victoria had two kinds of shaman: Birraarks and Mullamullums. Baraarks were the magicians who practised magic and made shamanistic journeys to the sky world, bringing back ceremonies. One of these Birraarks, Bunjil Narran (Master Moon), whilst flying across Lake Wellington, is supposed to have released his grip on the magic cord which shamans used in flying and other feats. He was saved by the spirits accompanying him on his flight.  

Mullamulluns were closer to doctors - they knew the properties of herbs and practised the healing arts such as smoking, massaging and removing small objects such as quartz splinters from the body of a sick person. Whilst in the sky world shamans were not supposed to laugh and had to remain serious. To maintain their powers on Earth, they did not eat any part of a kangaroo with blood on it and they could not kill human beings.

See also Akurra serpent; Animal behaviour; /Australites; Bunjil; Dorubauk; Dreaming; Dreaming tree of life; Extinct giant marsupials; Fire; Jalgumbun; Jandamara; Kutji spirits; Mundjauin; Nyimbunji; Omens; Palkalina; Pituri; Quartz crystal; Rain-making; Rainbow serpent; Relics of the dead; Spirit snake; Taipan; Tree between Heaven and Earth; Tuurap Wameen; Two Brothers; White Lady; Wirnum.

Shields Wooden shields were part of the equipment of most male Aborigines. They were usually made from hardwood and were quite narrow, being used to batter aside spears rather than letting them strike full on. some of these shields were engraved with abstract designs. In Queensland, the shields were larger and made from a light soft wood. Often they were over a metre in length and painted with clan designs in red, yellow and white.

Sirius For the Koori Mara people the star Sirius was the female wedge-tail eagle, Gneeanggar, who was carried off by Waa the crow (Canopus). This myth also involves the Pleiades who are seen by the Mara as seven young women. They lived together and did not want to be separated. Gneeanggar was one of them. Crow saw her, fell in love with her and decided to kidnap her. Once the seven sisters were out looking for witchetty grubs. They were very fond of the white flesh of this succulent grub. Waa saw them and immediately transformed himself into a grub and bored into a tree. The sisters  found his hole and each in turn tried to hook him out with the small hooked stick which is used for this purpose. As each woman pushed her hook down, he broke it off. However, when Gneeanggar pushed her hook down the hole, he allowed himself to be hooked and drawn out. As she was raising him to her mouth, he turned back to a crow and carried her off to the sky where she became Sirius. He became the star Canopus. The six remaining sisters went into the sky as the Pleiades and are still looking for their sister. See also Taboo countries.

Sky world The sky world is a world above the Earth. Among the Lower Murray river people, the elders tell how the ancestral hero Ngurunderi began his long trek to the sky world of the dead, going towards the setting sun. He took his sons with him. On the way, one of his sons became lost, leaving one of his spears behind him. Ngurunderi tied a cord to the butt of the spear and threw it into the air. it homed in on the missing boy, who was drawn back to his father. This Dreaming story explains what happened to the soul after a person had died: it was drawn to its final home in the sky where it was received with great rejoicing and lived on happily ever after.
See also Australites; Biame; Bunjil; Cosmography; Curlews; Death; Dreaming tree of life; Emu; Extinct giant marsupials; Galaxy; Island of the dead; Matchwood tree; Mundjauin; Naroondarie; Shamans; Spirit snake; Tree between Heaven and Earth; Two Brothers; Underworld; Universe.

Sleeping giant There is a myth of a sleeping giant among the Yuggera people of Queensland whose country is near the town of Ipswich. The giant is identified with Mount Castle. He is an All-Father figure which has been identified with Biame. He is described as an old man who has been lying asleep with his head resting on the palm of one hand with the elbow buried deep within the ground. In the Dreamtime, the giant awoke and flooded the whole country, but now he is sleeping again until the time comes to awaken and go to the aid of his people. See also All-Father, Luna Luma the giant.

Smoking Smoking is an important purifying ritual for birth, sickness, and to purify houses in which a death has occurred. It forms part and the conclusion of many important ceremonies.

Slong lines Song lines are the sound equivalents of the special journeys of the ancestors, the lines of which are found also inscribed in Aboriginal paintings and carvings. They detail the travels of the ancestors and each verse may be read in terms of the geographical features of the landscape. Encoded within them are the great ceremonies which reactivate the Dreamtime in the present.

Southern Cross The Southern Cross constellation has many myths attached to it. Among the Koori people of Victoria the star at the head of the Cross was Bunya. he was pursued by Tjingal the emu and in panic threw his spears down at the foot of the tree and ran up; it for safety. He became a possum. The eastern stars in the Cross were two spears thrown by the Bram-Bram-Bult brothers who were to stars in the forelegs of Centaurus. The larger star of the Cross was the spear which struck Tjingal on the chest, and the smaller star was the spear which passed through his neck. The star at the bottom of the Cross was the spear which hit him in the haunches. The west star of the Cross was Druk the frog, the mother of the Bram-Bram-Bult.

Another myth was narrated by Oodgeroo of the Noonuccal people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). According to this myth, the Southern Cross was a special creation of the All-Father Biame. It is the gum-tree named Yaraando, the dreaming tree of life and death. The stars of the Cross are the eyes of a man imprisoned in the tree, blazing in the darkness. The stars called the 'pointers' are two white cockatoos that flew after the tree when it was lifted into the sky. It is a visible symbol of the hereafter and of the All-Father Biame. For many Aboriginal communities along the eastern coast the Southern Cross is a protective spirit, Mirrabooka. He was placed in the sky by the All-Father Biame, who gave him lights for his hands and feet and stretched him across the sky so that he might forever watch over his people. The pointers are his eyes. See also Djamar; Galaxy.

Spears Spears, the chief weapons of the Aboriginal people of Australia, were given to men in the Dreamtime. The Wik Munggan elders narrate how some of the first spears came from Kongkong the fishhawk. this myth is well worth relating in detail, as it contains not only the first making of the spear but also other motifs which are found in myths world-wide. It also contains aspects of Wil Munggan culture which have since died out or been heavily modified under the influence of Christianity. Kongkong (Fishhawk) and his son went to make spears. They made all kinds of spears, wolka, a stingray-barbed spear; kaiya, with a cluster of stingray barbs, antyan, a spear with four prongs; yandala, with one long point; tu'u and wantyandyindan, with three prongs for spearing bony bream fish; pinta, a bamboo spear with one point; and pita, a spear with four points. They also made spear throwers and fighting clubs. They tied the spears up in a bundle and put them in the branch of a tree and they did the same with their spear throwers and clubs.

It was then that Rock Python asked his son to go and visit Fishhawk. He went and along the way met his two sisters. leaving them, he continued on his way and reached the camp of Fishhawk, but it was deserted. He found the weapons and took them back to the camp of his two sisters, giving them to the women to look after. Meanwhile Kongkong and his son returned to find the weapons gone. Kongkong saw tracks and identified them as belonging to the son of Rock Python. He told his son to follow the tracks. He did so and entered the camp of the two women. They gave him food and firewood and he camped there. Next morning, he woke up and saw the women still asleep. he called to them, but they didn't move. he came closer and had intercourse with the elder while she slept. When they woke up, the younger sister saw the marks of the rape on her elder sister's body. They decided to avenge the outrage. Taking up the spears and spear throwers, they rushed after Kongkong's son. They began by throwing spears but he kept striking them aside. then the younger sister threw a spear he kept striking them aside. Then the younger sister threw a spear. It pierced him in the thigh. she speared him in the breast with a four-pronged spear. He fell. The sisters speared him dead, but off both legs and arms, then cut his throat. They carried him back to their camp.

Young Sister said, 'Older sister, bring me an ant-bed.'
Elder Sister replied, 'Younger sister, aren't you glad to do the cooking? there'll be so much meat.'

They cooked the meat (as birds are cooked) in ant-bed, then erected a platform on forked sticks on which to place the meat. After this, they sat down and put on mourning ashes for the 'brother' who had been slain. Meanwhile Kongkong the father had vomited and felt that is was a sign that something had happened to his son. He followed the tracks calling for his son, 'Kong, kong, kong.' At last he reached the two sisters' camp and saw the platform and beneath it the sisters covered in mourning ashes. 'You have killed my son,' he said, adding that he would not retaliate. However, he set up camp beside them, waiting until they were off guard and speared them both. After he had killed them, he cut their bodies into two pieces and then, taking his spears, went off to his old father and mother. He got into a canoe with his father and mother and they paddled off. In the middle of the stream, the canoe swirled around and Kongkong said, 'Mother, father, let us descend into our sacred place.'

The canoe capsized and they all sank, except for Kongkong who flapped his wings and flew off as a bird. He flew back to the platform where the meat of his son had been placed and built his nest there. From there he called, 'Mother, father, stay below. I'll stay up here.' His father and mother now remain in the water as catfish and one can see the nest of the white fishhawk up in the tree. Kongkong is the white fishhawk and his son is a smaller hawk called Min Kakalang. See also Cherbourg Aboriginal settlement, Flying foxes; Jirakupai, Murray river; Shields; Sky wolrld; soutthern Cross; Trade; Uluru; Wawilak sisters; Women ancestral beings.

Spirit children Many Aboriginal groups believe that at certain strong places of the earth, or at certain waterholes, the spirits of children wait for a suitable womb in which to be born. A woman wishing to have a baby goes to these places to be entered by the spirit child. Often women know they are pregnant by the spirit child appearing to them in a dream, sometimes it is the male partner who has this dream. The dream and the particular fertility site determine the totem or Dreaming of the child. to the Tiwi people of Melville Island spirit children are small dark-skinned people who have always existed. The Tiwis' beliefs are similar to those of other Aboriginal communities in that if one of these little people wishes to become a human being, the travels to a human camp and whispers to one of the married men while he is asleep asking where his wife is. After the man has shown her to the spirit, it waits for a suitable opportunity to enter her body.
See also Childbirth; Conception beliefs; Mopaditis; Mudungkala; Totems.

Spirit snake Often during his initiation a shaman receives a spirit snake as his familiar which he uses to gather information and go into places where he cannot go as a person. the snake is connected to or itself forms the magic cord by which the shaman travels to the sky world where he or she may converse with the dead. See also Shamans.

Stars and constellation All the stars and constellations have names and often are said to be ancestors who have ascended into the sky, with the twinkling stars being their campfires. See Aldebaran; altair; Arcturus; aurora Australis; Beehive; Bootes; Canis Major; Canopus; Capricomus; Centaurus; Coma Berenices; Cosmography; Delphinus; Dreaming tree of life; Formalhaut; Galaxy; Hydra; Mars; Milky Way; Miryan the moon ; Moon; Morning Star; Orion; Pleiades; Rigel; Rober Carol; Sagittarius; Scorpio; Southern Cross; Tasmanian creation myth; Universe; Walkabout.

Sun In the duality of opposites that underlies much of Aboriginal belief, women are equated with light, life and wisdom, whereas men are equated with darkness, the shade, the night and death. So the sun is almost always considered to be female, and thus is connected with menstruation myths as well as light and warmth. In the beginning the Earth was dark and beings had to find their way in the darkness with torches when seeking food and water. A Koori sun myth relates how a woman, Kyowee, left her small son sleeping in a cave while she went for yams. Without the sun there was little vegetation growing and she had to search long and hard. The ground was broken by gullies and ravines, and when she went on and on, until she reached the end of the world and stepped off the Earth and into the dark land above. Each day, she travels the vast plain, holding her torch above her head, looking for her son. It is her torch that lights up the whole world as she crosses the plain.

According to the Tiwi people of Melville island the sun woman, Wuriupranala, received her role at the end of the Dreamtime. She travels daily across the sky with a torch of blazing bark, but before the sets out she powders her body with red ochre. When she reaches the end of her journey, she does this again, then rests for a time in the celestial lagoon. Kumpinulu, before returning to her home in the East along a subterranean valley. See also Cosmography; Eclipse of the sun; emu; Gender roles; Universe; Yhi.   
Sydney See Eora tribe; Kuringgai Chase National Park; Pemulwuy.


Taboo countries (or aversion countries) Some areas of Australia are taboo to the Australian Aborigines. One such is what is called 'the sickness country' in the Northern Territory, which was eventually mined for uranium, another is Wilson's Promontory, a peninsula jutting out into stormy Bass Strait. It was said to be presided over by the giant Lo-an and his wife Lo-an-tuka, who, according to the Koori Kulin people, became (respectively) the stars Sirius and star Canopus. Sometimes Lo-an descended from the sky onto a mountain peak which was sacred to him. If an unwary stranger entered the peninsula he would be attacked by the mysterious powers guarding it, so if a person wished to enter the land unharmed, he had to endure a number of rituals. First of all, he had to have all his hair shaved off. A streak of red ochre had to be painted down his chest and two white lines painted across his shoulders. He would then be fed on eels, once Lo-an's main food, then at dawn, if he heard the laughter of a kookaburra, he had to spit at the bird, for it was laughing at him for wishing to come into such a dangerous country. After the ceremony was over, he might venture onto the peninsula at his own risk.

Taipan Taipan, the snake deity of the Wik Kalkan of Cape York peninsula, has all the attributes of such universal snake deities. He has the characteristics of a great primordial shaman and is considered the arbitrator of life and death. If he points a bone, the person dies, but he also can cure, for he controls the blood supply, the loss of which causes death. he is the deity who gave blood to humankind and who wields power over the physiological processes of men and women - the blood flow, the heart and menstruation. How Taipan provided the first blood supply is told in the following myth. 

Once Taipan was a man and a great shaman. If a person was lying ill from swallowing the bones of goanna or bandicoot, he would make him well by squeezing him and sucking out the bone. Then he would expel it by spitting and the person would get well. However, at other times he would say: 'I can't cure you.' If he pointed a bone at a person, that person would soon die. Taipan was very clever. He made thunder and lightning. He carried a big stone on the end of a long strong string and a blood-red knife. He would sharpen down a flint to a sharp point, fasten it to a long string and throw it. There would come a clap of thunder. He would throw it again and again thunder would come. The stone would become red hot, but would cool after a time. Taipan had three wives: Uka (Water Snake), Mantyha (Death-Adder) and Tuknampa, another water snake. He had one child, a son. This son was hunting downriver when he came across Tintauwa, a black water snake who was wifve to Wala, the blue-tongued lizard. She seemed asleep, but was only pretending. Taipan's son came closer. She seduced him and they ran off together as sweethearts.

Wala followed the lovers and killed the son. he carried the heart and blood to Taipan, who became grief-stricken. Decided to leave the Earth, he assembled his numerous family and, after rubbing the blood of his son on them, told them to descend into various places in the earth. he had two sisters and he gave them some blood and told them to carry it into the sky when they climbed up there. This is the red in the rainbow and symbolizes menstrual blood. When he had done this, Taipan threw his blood-red knife and a storm arose. In it he disappeared into the earth. The two sisters pretended to go down into the earth, but instead rose again and climbed into the sky. In the dry season they stay under the ground, but when the stormy weather comes, they climb up into the sky with the elder brother of Taipan. The sisters are the red in the rainbow and the brother is the blue.

Now if a mother-in-law who has promised her daughter to a man holds her back, then Taipan throws his knife and thunder roars and lightning flashes and the quarrel is settled. At Waityang, Tapipan's djang place, there is a milkwood tree next to the water. It is a place of great energy and if it is disturbed then many snakes gather there and a cyclonic wind rushes up to blow them away. See also Akurra serpent; Menstrual blood Rainbow snake; Shamans.

Tasmania Tasmania is the large island below the south-eastern corner of the Australian continent. It was cut off from the mainland many thousands of years ago with the rising of the seas at the end of the last ice age. The island was inhabited by at least nine different groups divided into a number of clans. Most of the people were destroyed when the island was occupied by the British early in the nineteenth century and became a penal colony. to all intents and purposes the Tasmanian Aboriginal cultures were destroyed when the few survivors were rounded up and exiled at Wybalenna on flinders Island in Bass Strait. There they languished and many died whilst they were being 'civilized'. A handful of survivors were eventually returned to the larger island where they were placed in an institution at Oyster Cove. This place has now become a cultural centre and a djang site of endurance for the modern Tasmanian Kooris, who refuse to become absorbed into the majority Australian community and culture. See also Mutton bird; National Aboriginal Day; "Relics of the dead; Tasmanian creation myth; Trugerninni.

Tasmanian creation myth This creation myth was told by Wooraddi (died 1846), an elder and shaman of the Bruny Island Aboriginal people of Tasmania. The two stars Moinee and Droemerdeener fought in the sky. Moinee was vanquished and exiled to the Earth where he died and became a large boulder off the coast at Sandy Bay. he made the first people, but failed to give them knees and they had tails like kangaroos. They had to stand all the time and Droemerdeener (Canopus) looked down and felt pity for them. He came down to Earth, cut off the tails and rubbed grease over the wounds. He added knees to the legs and at last the people felt they were complete. See also Creation myths.

Terrania Creek basin and cave Terrania Creek basin in northern New South Wales in Bundjalung country and the cave there are said to have been an important spiritual area inhabited by many spirits. Even now people describe the basin as magical in atmosphere. The cave there is said to have been a djang site to the Widjabal clansmen of the Bundjalung. Young men in the last stages of initiation were taken there to gain strength and perseverance as well as to establish contact with the spirits. Much of the lore and history has not been revealed. See also Auwa; Bundjalung nation; Sacred places; Thalu places.

Thalu places (or Tala places) are the strong places of the Earth. They are sacred places filled with energy or djang. Ceremonies performed at these sites are expected to keep up the numbers of the animal, plant, reptile, fish or plant or other thing(s) associated with the site, for example the proper ceremony performed by the custodian at the Rain thalu should result in rain. See also Auwa, Djang, Sacred Places, Walkabout.

Thunder Man (Bodingo or Djamburwal) is an important ancestral being of the Duwa moiety in Arnhem Land. In the Dreamtime, he lived in the rain clouds. the Djanggawul saw him and sang about him on their voyage from Bragu to the mainland (see Djanggawul and his two sisters myth). When he walks upon the waters, he causes huge waves which are dangerous to canoes. He has a number of sacred laces, one of which he created when he threw his double-headed club and broke the rocky face of a hill into fragments. The fragments are called his eyes and can still be seen in Arnhem Land. When he threw the 'eyes' into the skies they formed clouds.

Tiwi people The Tiwi people are the inhabitants of Melville Island and Bathurst Island off the northern coastline of Australia. They are famous for their elaborate funeral services called the Pukamani in which tall elaborate 'totem' poles are erected. See also Bark paintings; Curlews; Cyhclops; Mopaditis; Mudungkala; Pukamani burial oles; Pukamani funeral ceremonies; Spirit children; sun; Tree between Heaven and Earth; Universe.

Tuatantja poles Tnatanja poles are similar to totem poles and are used in the central and Western Desert in ceremonies.They are symbolic of the Dreaming tree of life and death and form a connection between heaven and Earth. In the Dreamtime the inatantja pole was also employed as a magic weapon or implement, cleaving great gaps between rugged mountain ranges and carving out deep gullies. It is also regarded as a living creature, capable of independent action. In the Dreamtime there was a great matantja pole at a place called Kerenbennga. It was long and slender, reached to the sky and was decorated with white and red down. Once a great wind arose. The pole bend under its onslaught. It struck the Earth and made a long narrow valley. It sprang upright again, but winds came from the north, south and west, finally blowing the pole down. It was later stolen and part of it became a bloodwood tree. See also Bandicoot ancestor.

Toa sculptures (or Diyari sculptures) These interesting mythological icons seem to have marked a last creative spurt of the Diryan people before their culture collapsed. They are said to have developed under the influence of the German missionaries who set up a mission at Killapaninna in Diyari country in 1866. It was at this mission that Toa sculptures were produced. today there are about 400 specimens in the South Australian museum and they have been divided into three types. The first group has a natural object attached to the head and may have painted designs on the stem and the head. The objects attached span the full range of physical objects available to the Diyari - pieces of vegetation, bird feathers, netting, stone tools, body parts, lizard feet, human hair, teeth and animal bones. They are said to symbolize the sacred djang places of the Diyari.

The second group of sculptures bears a carved or marked representation of either a man-made or natural object. The carved figures are of wood and the moulded ones are of gysum. the figures again range over Diyari life - boomerangs, body ornaments, bowls, geographical features, parts of human and animal bodies. On some the eyes and mouth are drawn in ochre. The third type of Toa sculptures has the traditional wooden stem, but a gysum head painted with formal designs. Toa are sad monuments to a culture which has not survived except in the papers of a few missionaries and anthropologists. It appears that the Diyari, conscious of the end of their beloved traditions and spirituality, encoded them in these sculptures which, unlike other sacred objects, are not secret but open to all, if only the key to decipher them could be found. See also Dryari people; Ground carvings and sculptures; rock engravings.

Tokumbimi Tolumbimi lived int he Dreamtime and ordered the ancestors to make sacred djang places on their old camp sites on Melville Island and Bathurst Island. He ordered them to make the food source for the people who were to come and then to change themselves into the particular bird, reptile, fish and other things with which the places were to be associated. He also made the laws which were to govern the people, how marriages were to be formed and also the kinship relations which were to order the people's lives. he also separated night from day. Later he changed himself into the yellow-faced honey-eater bird, meliphaga chryops, and it is his call which awakens the Tiwi people to bein the day.

Tooloom Falls (Dooloomi) Tooloom Falls in Bundjalung country in northern New South Wales is said to have come about because of the actions of Dirrangan. Dirrangan was an old woman who in the Dreamtime damned the Clarence river and kept the water in a hidden spring. Balugaan, a handsome young man, enticed her to give him water. He noticed when he came to get the water that the secret spring was in reality a dam. he broke the dam and the waters gushed out, creating the Clarence river. Frantically, the old woman tried to recapture the water, building mountains, but the water flowed between them. She reached the mouth of the Clarence and became a stone pillar there. See also Bundjalung nation.

Totems (or Dreamings) are one way of ordering the universe and the species therein. In the Dreamtime human beings were one with their Dreaming - humankind were yams, ants, owls, particular fish, waterlilies, turkeys, emus, wallabies, kangaroos and so on. totem beings, the particular creative ancestors, often descended into the earth at particular places or energized particular places linkied with a particular species. These djang, thalu or wunggud places are where those belong to a particular totem or Dreaming go to activate the life force which ensures that a particular species continues on Totem, or Dreaming, and person are intimately connected, and he or she has been given the task to continue the totemic species. It is the law passed down from the Dreamtime ancestors. See also Ancestgral beings; Animal behaviour; Mopaditis; Spirit children; Tiwi people; Tnatantja poles; Trade; Wandjina.

Trade Trade was very important to the Aboriginal people. this could be either the circulation of various objects between individuals belonging to different communities or regular trade fairs when many tribes came to barter goods. The Bibbulmum people held mana boming or trade fairs at various centres during the year at which many items were exchanged, such as kangaroo skin bags, spears and boomerangs. One of these trade fairs was held in the Perth district. The Perth people had an ochre patch near Lake Monger and this was a stable trade item. Trade was conducted over great distances, for example between the northern peoples and those of the south west, with goods passing from people to people until they reached their ultimate destination. When passing from tribe to tribe, trade items would be made up into bundles and all the articles would be marked with the totem mark of the sender or with ancestral designs. Items which might be in the bundle included shields, clapsticks, clubs, boomerangs, hair string, incised pearl shell pubic hair ornaments and ochres. These would be sent to men of the same kin or clan group, uncles, brothers or fathers. On receiving the goods, they would send back other items. If a tribe had enough or more than enough, of any goods received, they would trade them on with other groups. There was thus a trading network, along which items from one tribe or country could pass for hundreds of kilometres. See also Pearl shell ornaments; Pituri; Red ochre.  

Tree between Heaven and Earth Trees or poles are important ceremonial and symbolic objects, ladders between the Earth and the sky world, the home of the ancestors, and between the dear departed and the living, thus in many communities corpses are placed in the branches of trees, in hollow trees or in specially prepared hollow logs placed upright in the ground. Logs such as these play an important part in funeral ceremonies such as the Pukamani poles amongst the 'Tiwi living on Bathurst and Melville Islands.

In certain ceremonies, shamans ascend such trees or poles to enter the sky world and the souls climb them to reach their final resting-place. Before being allowed to enter, the spirit or soul must pass a series of tests. See also Boomerang; Dreaming tree of life; Hollow log coffins; Matchwood tree; Pukamani burial poles; Pukamani funeral ceremonies; Tiwi people.

Tribes The term 'tribe' was introduced into Aboriginal culture by the invaders. Although it is not really applicable to the Aborigines of Australia, it is now in general use among us. In the Australian Aboriginal context, tribe is reckoned by descent and tribal identity is locked into a number of local families who can trace their descent from a particular area and often from a particular ancestor or ancestors. These local groups speak a common language or dialect which is unique to them, or which has a pronunciation different from other groups, and at least the males of the group share a common ancestor or ancestors. See also Community; Kin groups; Kinship; Languages; Trade

Trickster character The trickster character, like Anansi of Jamaica and Coyote of the Native Americans, is also found in Aboriginal culture. he is sometimes a possum, other times Crow. Paddy Roe, the story-teller and custodian of the Dreaming track in Broome, tells the story of the historical trickster character Mirdinan who killed his wife and turned into several animals, including a cat and an Eaglehawk, to avoid capture. he was so powerful in his magic that no one could capture him. Eventually, his tricks were turned on him. He was made drunk, locked in a trunk and flung into the sea. It is interesting that he became an Eaglehawk and not a Crow. Eaglehawk and Crow stories are found all over Australia, and it usually is Crow who is the trickster and Eaglehawk the dupe, though often the tales are turned with the trickster being tricked.

There is a story from the Murray river in eastern Australia about Mulyan the eaglehawk and Wahn the crow. One day Eaglehawk saw his wife talking to Magpie and became jealous. he beat her so severely that she died. The woman was Wahn's sister and it was his duty to avenge the murder. He came to Eaglehawk's cam and asked to rest awhile. He waited until Eaglehawk went out hunting and murdered his son as payback. To evade the consequences he made it appear that many men had taken part in the killing, but Eaglehawk was not taken in. he asked Crow to dig a deep grave for the dead child. Crow did so and when he descended into the pit with the body, Eaglehawk pushed all the earth on top of him and stamped it down. but Crow was also a great shaman, as tricksters are, and he escaped. he called up a great thunderstorm and a bold of lightning hit the camp of Eaglehawk, wrecking it. This was in the Dreamtime when birds and animals were men, and just when Crow was exulting over his revenge, Mulyan rose in the shape of an Eaglehawk and flew away. Crow did not escape completely either for the lightning had scorched him, and when he became a bird to pursue Eaglehawk, he found that he was dark as night. There are many stories of Aboriginal trickster spirits. Sometimes they are poltergeists, other times spirits who live in the rocks, crevasses of the earth and forest glades, or simply spirits of the Dreamtime.

There is a Koori myth about the Bullum-Boukan. These were two female spirits who were joined together and they had one son called Bullum-tut. One day the Bullum-Boukan smelt some women cooking fish and came to them and asked them for some. the women, knowing how mischievous they were, chased them away with their digging sticks. This upset the Bullum-Boukan and next day when the camp was deserted they went and scattered the fires, poured water on the ashes and carried off the live coals. The people returned to find that their fire had been stolen. Ngarugal the musk crow tried to blow up the flames; he failed and went to Ngarang the swamp hawk for help. Ngarang flew off and found the Bullum-Boulkan and their son far to the south on Wilson's Promontry, which juts out into the Southern Ocean. He swooped down and knocked some of the coals from them. this set fire to the grass. Bullum-Boukan stamped out the fire while their son, Bullum-tut, threw a cord made from emu sinews into the sky, where it stuck fast. he pulled at it and it broke. He tried another cord made from the sinews of a kangaroo and that too broke. He tried one made from the sinews of a red wallaby and it held fast. they began climbing up into the sky, but the hawk swooped and knocked more live coals from them. Tutbring the red-breasted robin held the burning coals to his chest and this is why he has a red breast.  

Trugerninni (or Trugernanni, Truganini) (?-1876), along with her husband, wooraddi, was one of the last elders of the Tasmanian Koori people and suffered the decimation and demise of her people and culture. Few of the myths of her people, the Bruny Islanders, still remain. When she died, her bones were placed on display in a museum and it was only after a long battle that they were finally given a sea burial. National Aboriginal Day is celebrated on the day of her death. This is done to stress the connection between the previous generations and the present. See also Oyster Cove; Tasmanian creation myth.

Tuurap Warneen Tuurap Warneen was one of the last great shamans of the Koori people of Victoria. He lived in the latter part of the nineteenth century and was finally murdered by an invader. Once when doubts were expressed at his ability to fly above the clouds and bring back one of the spirits called Wirtin Wirtin Jaawan, he flew into the air and brought one back in the shape of an old woman wrapped in a possum-skin rug and tied around the waist with a rope. He explained that the spirit had to be kept tied up as it might injure people. After half an hour, he led her off. 

Two Brothers (the Bram-Bram-Bult) The Two Brothers, Yuree and Wanjel (Castor and Pollux), are the ancestral heroes of a huge corpus of myths which stretched across Victoria. Essentially, they belonged to the Wotjobaluk Koori people, but, like the other great mythic cycles which stretch for many hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres, they extend beyond tribal boundaries. The myth cycle is set in the Dreamtime when Purra the kangaroo was bounding along in his efforts to escape from Duan the Purra when he came to the country of Wembulin the triantelope, who was camped with his two daughters. Wembulin attacked Doan, who first managed to escape, but then Wembulin came after him and caught and ate him.

Next Wembulin and his two daughters went after Purra. Doan's maternal uncles, the Bram-Bram-Bult, followed after him to see what was happening. They met Mara the sugar ant, who was carrying a hair of Doan, then several of Mara's sisters and brothers who were carrying scraps of Doan's skin and body back to their camp. They came to the place where Wembulin had attacked Doan and in the attack had sheared through trees. They came upon doan's bones and knew that he had been killed and eaten. Out for revenge, they followed Wembulin. They passed two of his old camp sites and at the third found his two daughters busily pounding honeysuckle seeds into flour for cakes. Wembulin was in a bark shelter and the brothers laid an ambush, then killed him. They took his daughters for wives and began their return journey, but on the way they killed the two women because they were afraid of their savage nature.

The next adventure the brothers had was with Jinijinitch the great white owl and his two sons who were cannibals and so bloodthirsty that they had killed their mother and wife for food. The two brothers were also great shaman and they sang up a storm. Great White Owl and his sons went into their bark hut to escape the storm and the two brothers set fire to it and burnt them up. The ancestral brothers had many adventures as they wandered over the land, taming and naming it. Eventually the younger brother was injured in a fight with Gertuk the mopoke and a snake bit him and he died, in spite of the elder brother's nursing. The elder Bram-Bram-Bult was so overcome with grief that he fashioned a manikin from the trunk of a tree, magically imbued it with life and ordered it to become his brother. They then journeyed to the west where it is said that they lived in a cave for a long time. Now they have ascended into the sky world, where they may be seen as the two stars in the forelegs of Centaurus, the pointers to the Southern Cross. Their mother, Druk the frog, is with them. She is the star in the Southern Cross nearest to the pointers. See also Beehive.

Two Men myth The Two Men (Wati Gudjara) myth involves a long and arduous journey by two iguana men, the elder brother Kurukadi and the younger Mumba, who travel south east from the Kimberley to imprint their deeds and adventures not only upon the landscape, but upon the local ancestral spirits. They are said to have had a magic boomerang with which they fashioned much of the landscape of the Western Desert. Ancestral cultural heroes, they initiated songs and dances and passed on sacred designs and images which are still being used today. The Two Men myth may be seen as a connecting myth, in that it connects the ancestral spirits through interaction and relationship along a route extending for thousands of kilometres. I have had stories related to me in the Kimberley, but have never found the beginnings of their journey. The journey continues into South Australia, Pitjantjatjara country, where at long last, it is said the two men ascended into the skies. The length of the journey is echoed in the myth of the seven sisters who also came from the West and eventually ascended into the sky to become the Pleiades.

The Two Men myth is an example of how a myth may extend over tribal boundaries and cultures. The Wati Gudjara covered thousands of kilometres before they left the Earth to become two stars in Gemini. See also Inma boards; Two Old Women; Waningga.

Two Old Women The myth of the Two Old Women - 'old being used in an honorary sense as a mark of respect rather than description of age - is narrated by the elders of the Adnyamathanba people. They are said to be the wives of the two mates, who appear to be a continuation of the Two Men myth, or a local variant of it. The two mates ascended into the sky leaving the two old women alone. They tracked the men to a place called Wakarra Virrinha and saw two long stories lying on the ground which are said to be the two men, but the women continued tracking and had various adventures. Eventually one of the women fell down a cliff and burst into a hundred pieces. Where the pieces landed, grass trees sprang up and today there are more grass trees at this place than anywhere else. The remaining woman continued her travels and disappeared into the neighbouring territory of the Arabana people. See also Women ancestral beings.


Uka the water snake See Taipan.

Uluru Uluru is a telluric or djang place of amazing potency and it is perhaps the only place of pilgrimage in Australia visited by people of all races and nationalities. People go there for a mystical experience and many do achieve it. It is a place of male and female sacred places, quiet caves and pools, and phallic upthrustings of rock, and in the distance lies Katatputa, also a sacred energy place. Uluru is perhaps the most sacred place for aboriginal people right across Australia, for here the many song lines and Dreaming tracks come together in a unity of myth which is celebrated by the giant sandstone monolith rising nearly 400 metres above the surrounding countryside. The monolith was built in the Tjukurrpa or Dreaming by two boys who played in the mud after rain. When they had finished they travelled south to Wiuputa, on the northern side of the Musgrave Range, where they killed and cooked a curo, then turned north again and made their way to table-topped Mount Connor, where their bodies are seen today as boulders.

The custodianship of Uluru is with the Ptjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara people and ownership has been inherited from both mothers' and fathers' sides. the rock itself is divided into the sunny side and the shady side, which not only refers to generational divisions but also to the division between two great myth cycles whose central themes motivate most of central Australian Aboriginal society, much as the great myths found in the Mahabharaza motivates much of Hindu society. Opposites meet here in an uneasy tension which was resolved in a great battle which marks the end of the Dreamtime age and the beginning of our own age. The mythology of the 'shade' concerns the Kuniya, the Rock Python people. They came in three groups to Uluru, from the west, south and north. One of the Kunya carried her eggs on her head, using a manguri (grass0-head pad) to cushion them. She buried these eggs at the eastern end of Uluru. When I was at Uluru a few years ago I watched a woman performing what has become an age-old ritual at the base of the rock. In the dance her feet dragged in the sand, leaving the tracks of a snake.

While they were camped at Uluru the Kuniya were attacked by a party of Liru, poisonous snake warriors. At Alyurungu, on the south-west face of the rock, are pock marks, the scars left by the warriors' spears, and two black-stained watercourses there are the transformed bodies of two Liru warriors. When it rains the water channels down these watercourses but often they are dry and this only marks. The battler centred on Mutjitjuly, a section of the north-eastern part of the rock. there is an Aboriginal settlement there. Here a Kuniya woman fought with her digging stick and her features are preserved on the eastern face of the gorge, while the features of the attacking Liru warrior can be seen on the western face, when his eyes, head wounds (transformed into vertical cracks) and severed nose form part of the cliff. Above Mutjitjulyu is Uluru rock hole. this is the home of a Kuniya who releases water into Mutjitjulu.  

The Liru had been called down upon the Kuniya by the Mulga Seed men, for they had also refused the Mulga Seed men's invitation to their ceremonies. They too were defeated and retreated to the east. There are also stories of other ancestors who entered into this vast battle, a veritable battle of the scale which occurs in the Indian epic the Mahabbarata and signals the end of an era, the creative period of the Dreamtime. See also Great battles; Pungalunga men; Yugumbir people.

Underworld As there is a belief in a sky world among many Aboriginal tribes, so there is also a belief in an underworld. From the Murray river people comes a myth about a magpie who was digging a hole to find food. He dug deeper and deeper and suddenly fell through the bottom of the hole. When he looked around, he found himself in another world. There were trees about. Then he heard a pecking noise. He went in the direction of the noise and found a cockatoo digging grubs out of a tree. The cockatoo sang a song of welcome to him, then asked him if he was happy living in that world. Magpie said that he preferred his own up above, so Cockatoo invited him to get on his back. He flew up to the ceiling of the underworld, found the hole and flew through. he left Magpie there and returned to the underworld. See also Cosmography; Sky world; Universe.

Universe The universe for the Tiwi people consists of four levels (a) the underworld, Ilara; (b) the Earth; (c) the sky world, Juwuku; and (d) a further sky world, Tuniruna. Ilara is said to be always dark and there are two high stony ridges with a valley between. It is along this valley that the sun-woman and the moon-man travel each day from the western horizon to their homes in the east. No food can be found in the underworld, but a stream flows from one of the mountain ridges. The sky world, according to the Tiwi, is where during the monsoon, Pakadringa, the man of the thunderstorms, Tomituka, the woman of the monsoonal rains and Burerali, the lightning woman with her many children make their homes. Across it travel the sun-woman, the moon-man, the men of the Milky Way and various star-woman. Above the sky-world in the world Tuniruna, which is the daytime home of numerous star-women, the Tapalinga, and the men of the Milky Way, the Maludaianiniu. During the dry season, the beings associated with the monsoon make their homes here. See also Cosmography; Galaxy; Stars and constellations.


Waa See Canopus; Crow; Rober Carol.

Wagyal (or Waugal; woggal) The Wagyal is an important an cestral deity, or deities, of the Nyunga country of south-western Australia. It is one and many, maole and female, and resides in waterholes and rivers. If disturvbed, it is said the Wagyal will bring catastrophe on our people. The Wagyal watches over the food and other laws, and punishes those who transgress them. It may be likened to a dragon for the one in the former Minjelungin swamp, now the Perth suburb of Swan Districts, had hair on its back and flap-0like wings. In the Dreamtime the Wagyal travelled through the south west, leaving traces of its journey at certain places. It made all the big rivers and the tracks of its journey, the Dreaming tracks and song lines, link up with other snake sites throughout Australia. See also Akurra serpent; Ancestral beings; Bennett's Brook; Dreaming; Rainbow snake; Yagan.

Walbiri creation myth Creation for the Walbiri people occurred at the Winbaraku sacred complex. The world of living things and shapes became manifest through the workings of Mamu-boijunda the great spider and Jarapiri the great snake who emerged from the earth at Winbaraku. Jealousy (fire) and desire came with them and this resulted in the first ancestors leaving their home behind to travel across the land while the giant spider retreated to a cave deep beneath the hill. See also Ancestral beings; Creation myths.

Walkabout is a word which has been coined to describe the pilgrimages that Aboriginal people must make to their sacred places to conduct ceremonies. Often it is used in a derogatory fashion, meaning just aimless wandering. Aborigines have never been aimless wanderers, but have always followed well-defined paths across their land. They have done so for thousands upon thousands of years and continue to do so when conditions permit, enacting the great journey, or sections of them, that the ancestral beings undertook long ago in the Dreamtime.

Walkabout is seen to reflect the circulation of the planets about the sun, and the rise and fall of the stars. In fact, it was the stars and their positions in the sky which determined many aspects of the lives of the Aborigines, including the direction of the pilgrimage. As all the universe was in motion, so were the Aboriginal people. See also Cosmography; Djang; Dreaming tracks; song lines; Stars and constellations; Thalu places.

Walmatjarri people (or Walmajarri) The Walmatjarri people are a desert people who migrated to the Kimberley region in the middle decades of this century. They originally lived in the Great Sandy Desert, which consists of long rolling sandhills or ridges with flat country between them. The Walmatjarri were nomadic, travelling in small family hands from waterhole to waterhole. In some waterholes lived water snakes with whiskers, legs and scaly dorsal spines. they were remarkably like dragons. If they smelt that approaching people were strangers, they could be dangerous. Because of the importance of water to the Malmatjarr, many of their religious beliefs were based on it, as the provider of life, and they believed that all the waterholes were linked up by underground passages along which the water snakes could travel. See also Community; Pike, Jimmy; Skipper; Peter.

Wandjina The Wandjina are the spirit ancestors of the Kimberley. The Aboriginal people of the Kimberley believe that the Wandjina created the world and walked about in human form, making places and naming animals and plants. They left their images on the walls of caves, images of earth potency. It was in the Lalai, the beginning, the Dreamtime; that the Wandjina appeared from the sky, with their heads surrounded by circles of lightning and thunder, and dressed in a curtain of rain. Thus they are connected with the sky, water and rain. Each Wandjin a has his own name and there is always a male custodian who claims him as his mother's brother - the most important relationship. The custodianship is usually passed down from father to a person in a son relationship, especially to one who has felt a spiritual relationship to the particular Wandjina which inhabits the site. Along with the cave images of the Wanjina are also images of the totems or Dreamings of that particular group of people. All Wandjina sites are wunggud, places of concentrated earth power and life-force which is kept radiating by retouching the images, or merely by visiting the sacred power site and singing the songs associated with it. See also Ancestral beings; Great flood; Ngarinjin; Palga; Utemorrah, Daisy; Willinggnari.

Waningga The waningga (or thread cross) is a sacred object made by tying two sticks into a cross, or three sticks into a double cross, and then stringing parallel hands of hair string across the resulting frame. Waningga are used all across the Western Desert and one was made by the ancestral heroes, the Two Men, Wari Gutjara. They vary in size from small hair string crosses which could be stuck into the hair of the performers of a ritual to much larger ones which were carried on the shoulders or stuck into the ground. They are said to represent the sacred djang sites and can hold some of the energy of the site.

Warmalana (Depuch Island) Warmalana Island was formed in the Dreaming by Matalga, one of a group of spirit men who play a leading role in the Pilbara. They can be recognized in carvings by their long penises which symbolize their importance in initiation rites. Matalga created the island by lifting up a huge rock, carrying it on his head down to the seashore and flinging it into the sea. As is shown by the story, this island became a great, djang place. It lies just off the coast and south of Port Headland. Its rocks and boulders are covered with an immense number of carved figures detailing the lives of the local Aboriginal people and their beliefs over millennia. Now it is all but deserted and the intense ritual life is all but gone. Only the engraved figures testify to its importance.

Warramurrungundji Warramurrungundji the All-Mother's myth and travels are related by Bill Neidjie in his book Story about Feeling. She was a rainbow snake who came from the sea and travelled across the land, making the law and forming part of the landscape of Kakadu National Park. Her travels came to an end when she saw the first flash of lightning and felt shame. She turned into a rock which may still be seen today. She is thought to being the monsoon rains to the Northern Territory. See also All-Mothers.

Water sprites Water sprites, usually female, are thought to live in some pools by many Aboriginal people. They can be dangerous to the unwary, for it is said that they lie waiting to trap unwary males who might venture into the water, dragging them down and drowning them. A story is told by the Yarrabh people about a man who went hunting eels. He went along a watercourse and saw two women. He sneaked up on them and grasped the younger, after first rubbing sand on his hands, as she was a burrawungal, a water sprite, and thus very slippery. He took her back to camp and warmed her all over so that the slime on her skin disappeared. he made her his wife and told everyone not to let her go near the river. But one day, she managed to slip away, disappeared into the water and was never seen again. See also Waterholes.

Waterholes Waterholes are often considered sacred as they are the habitats of giant water snakes. The Ngarinjin elder David Mowaljarlai says about one such waterhole in his country, 'Never go into Wunggud water because this waterhole is where Wunggud decided to stop. We dream children from this Wunggud, and in the Wunggud water we swim when we are sick. The power cleanses us from that sickness.' See also Altair; Bandicoot ancestor; Bunyip; Crocodiles; flying foxes; Katatjuta; Kulunbar; Millstream pools; Murray river; Spirit children; Water sprites; Wagyal; Walmatjarri people; Wawilak sisters.

Wawilak sisters (or Wawilag sisters) The two Wawilak sisters are the centre of a corpus of myths in Arnhem Land. It is said that they arrived at Trial Bay in the south-east of Arnhem Land went on to the Arafura Sea. The younger sister was pregnant and the older sister already had a baby which she carried in a paperbark cradle. They both carried spears and killed goannas, possums and bandicoots for food as well as gathering plant food. Theyh named the plants as they travelled along. Suddenly the younger sister felt the contractions of birth beginning. They made camp at the edge of the great Mirrrmina waterhole beneath the waters of which lived the giant snake Yulunggul. They began cooking food but as they placed the food on the fire, each type jumped up and into the pool. this was because it all belonged to the owner of the country, Yulunggul.

The elder sister went into the pool. She was menstruating and this alerted the giant snake. he came out of his lair and saw the two sisters. Angrily he hissed and lightning flashed. He rose on his tail and his head touched the sky. The elder sister began dancing and chanting to control him, but he swallowed the younger sister and her baby. The elder sister fled in terror and was eventually eaten by leeches. Different communities have their own versions of the myth and variations occur. In oral storytelling, the narrator, while sticking to the main line of the myth, often leaves out details, especially of a secret nature, depending on the composition of the audience. Later Yulunggul lifted up his head and spoke to other giant snakes of the Duwa moiety from other areas of north-eastern Arnhem Land about their different dialects and food. At first he denied that he had eaten the younger sister and her baby, but later he admitted this. When he did so the south-east monsoon began to come in, and he roared and fell to the ground. he split open the ground and made a river, then he vomited up the sister and her child. he dropped them on an ants' nest, then crawled back to his waterhole. The ants bit the younger sister and the baby and they came to life again.

This is only an extremely short version of the myth, and a single version. There are other versions which differ in details, but what is important is the connection between the arrival of the monsoon blowing from Asia and the Warilak sisters, their differing customs, such as the carrying of sears, and the antagonism caused by their upsetting the giant chthonic snake Yulunggul. The Wawilak sisters corpus of myths forms the basis of the Gunabibi ceremonies. See also Bark paintings; Gunabibi; Woijal.
Western Desert The Western Desert, because of its inhospitality to the invaders, is still filled with the richness of traditional Aboriginal culture, though the area, with its living traditions, is under threat by mining companies who refuse to accept that there is such a thing as the sacred. In the Tjukurrpa, the Dreamtime, many ancestors travelled across the land. There were the Two Men, or Wati Gudjara, who in this tradition are said to have come up from my country, the south west, after they piled up the rocks and mud to make the coastline. Then there are the Kungkarangkalpa, the seven sisters who eventually became the Pleiades; the Warnampi Kutjara, the two water snakes, and then the Minyma Kutjara, the Two Old Women who travelled far east and north and south to tbe Flinders Ranges. All of these ancestral beings left their signs all across the desert landscape. Their presence is always felt and remembered and recreated in the stories and ceremonies, dances and songs which actualize the ever-present sacred and unite it with our everyday lives. 
See also Djang; Dogs; Inma boards; Languages; Paaurya; Papunya Tula art; Tnatantja poles; Waningga; Women ancestral beings; Yuendumu.

Willy wagtail (Jitta Jitta) In our Bibbulmum culture the willy wagtail is a gossip bird or messenger bird. he comes hopping about and tells us all the news of our relatives. He should always be greeted and feed. He is also the protector of the camp and must be treated with respect. There is a story about Jitta Jitta that has been handed down to us as a warning. In the old dayw our mothers and fathers used to go out and leave the children under the protection of Jitta Jitta. He used to look after them, but no one paid him for his services. No one ever paid him anything, so one day he dug a hole in the riverbank, made it into a house and put the children inside. He lit a fie above the hole and the smoke of the fire suffocated them all. he then put out the campfires, took a firestick and carried it to the sea. he was about to put it into the sea when the hawk came flying and saw what he was doing. He snatched the firestick away, because it was the first and only fire in the world then. He took the fire back to the camp and told the people that they should respect Hitta Jitta or else he would always cause trouble. If he was respected, however, he would always befriend the people. We made our peace with Jitta Jitta and now he is our protector. See also Eagle, Peewit; Yugumbir people.

Winbaraku Winbaraku is a sacred place in the Ngalia country, west of Haast's Bluff in the Macdonnell Range, central Australia. It is the birthplace of the great snake Jarapiri, a creative ancestor who made the earth. Winbaraku consists of two main peaks, the taller of which is the great snake and the lesser, abutting his own, are the Nabanunga women who came to take him to their camp. he, however, coiled himself on the ground and refused to move. There are many Dreaming ancestors connected to the site. Hare-Wallaby, Jukulpa and the important Melatji dogs; Mamuboijunda the barking spider and another snake, Jarapiri Bombas, under the custodianship of Walbiri elders. Important Aboriginal ancestors on their travels come there and interrelate. Thus the sites often belong to more than one clan. 

Wirnum is the Koori word for clever man, native doctor, shaman or medicine man in the south-eastern region. These were the men who controlled the initiation ceremonies in the boro circles. See also Initiation process; Shamans.

Women ancestral beings Myths of women ancestral beings are found all across Australia. The beings engage in long journeys, creating the landscape and naming the fauna and flora. For example in the Western Desert, just as there is the Two Men myth, so there is the Two Old Women myth, which details the journey of two ancestral women who move south from the central desert to the southern ocean and back again. As they travelled, the two women made many natural features, which today are repositories, endowed with the women's spiritual essences and energies. In adjacent areas, they are called the Kurinpi women and are two knowledgeable and respected women who travel across the country naming it and performing ceremonies. It is said that they taught men to throw spears overarm and also gave (or had stolen from them by men) the ritual objects and ceremonial designs they carried with them. this theme of men stealing or getting from ancestral women ceremonies and ceremonial objects is found in many myths in which women featured as the main characters  (see also Fire).

Woollool Woollool (Wellington Rocks) Woollool Woollool, in Bundjalung country, northern  New South Wales, rises to a height of 1,040 metres above sea level. It is bounded on all sides by the Cataract river and its tributaries draining north into the Clarence river. It is the home of the Woollool Woollool spirit who travels around the mountains and down to the coast. It is an important place for shamans, who make their magic here. Only shaman can go to the place and people who approach it are warned off by the Woollool Woollool spirit. The site may, however, be viewed from a distance. See also Bundjalung nation.

Woomera The woomera is a spear thrower, an instrument which gives the spear added impetus when thrown. See also Barrier Reef.

Wudu ceremony of the Kimberley The Wudu ceremony was an educational practice which was repeated daily. A close-relative's fire-purified hand was passed over the body of the young child being educated. As each part was touched, an instruction was given, such as, for the lips. 'Do not speak bad things, always speak true.' See also Kimberley.

Wullunggnari on the Mitchell plateau, Kimberley, is a very sacred place of the Kimberley people where three stones represent the great flood. It is where the Wandjina came to take his final rest. At the place is a stone altar before a cave and beneath stands Walguna, the Tree of Wisdom, Knowledge and Law. At times of ceremony, this tree is hung with sacred objects. Here, David Mowaljarlai states, men and women would gather to be reborn of water and spirit. They would come to the site completely naked without weapons and tools. The priests, those long initiated in the ceremony, prepared the initiates for a week with teachings about the site and ceremony. Sacrifices were made and small pieces of meat, the flesh of the Wandjina, were taken. men and women were then bathed in sacred wunggud waters at different places according to gender. As a final ritual, they passed through the raised arms of two elders, then jumped through purifying mushroom smoke. See also Initiation process, Sacred places; Thalju places.

Wybalenna on Flinders Island in Bass Strait is the place where the remnants of the Tasmania Aboriginal people were exiled. Many died there. See also Oyster Cove; Tasmania.


Yaburara people See Burrup peninsula.

Yagan Yagan is an important ancestor of the Nyungar people. when Bibbulmum country was invaded in 1829, he and the rest of his people saw the invaders as the spirits of the dead returning. This belief lasted for a time, but then conflict arose when the Bibbulmum found out that the so-called 'spirits' had come to take their land. The newcomers did not respect tribal law or traditions, though expecting that their own laws be obeyed by the Bibbulmum. Conflict began. Yagan led a resistance movement and was captured. he was transported to a tiny island off the coast, but managed to escape. Thehn a year later, his brother, Domjum, was shot dead. In retaliation, Yagan and his father, Midgegooroo, began again their war of resistance against the cruel invaders. they were declared 'outlaws' and a reward was set on their heads. Midgegooroo was caught and executed. Yagan evaded capture for three months, then was shot dead in an ambush.

Yagan's death hastened the end of resistance around the invaders' main settlement at Perth on the Swan river, next to a sacred site of the Wagyal. It was not long after that they cleared the area with a wholesale massacre of men, women and children at Pinjarra. With this massacre, organized resistance against the British came to an end. It is said that the red sap of the bloodwood tree is the blood Yagan shed in defence of his land and people.

Yams Yams are a very important food source to the Australian Aborigines and the gathering and preparing of them for food is a woman's occupation. It is thus only natural that the yam is seen as a woman and often is part of women's 'business'. In Cape York peninsula, there are two types of yams: the soft yam and the hard yam. The soft yam is cooked in the ashes of a fire. The hard yam is sour to the taste and needs quite a bit of preparation. It is cooked in an ant-bed oven, then crushed and washed in water, sieved through the meshes of a dilly bag, then left to dry in a bark vessel. The Wik Munggan people narrate many myths about the yam. there is one story about the hard yam. In the Dreamtime, the hard yam was going about as a woman. She lived upstream and downstream lived the edible plant Arrowroot, who was a man. Once she came downstream to get a bailer shell to use in rinsing food and the arrowroot man barred her way. They quarrelled, made up and began living as man and wife, but they always quarrelled. They separated and the woman spent her time gathering and preparing yams (as in these myths, the way of preparing yams and other root foods is described).

Then one day the hard yam woman finds that she is lame. She becomes sick and can only crawl. She digs a hole and sits in it. it is too shallow and she digs some more. the sun shines and it is hot. She needs water and she feels that she must get out of the hole, grow to the top of her hole to get it, but the sides of the hole are too steep and she can't get out. She sinks further into the earth, saying, 'Just in this way, the yam will sit in its hole and my place will become the yam djang place. From here yams will go out in plenty to women for food.' See also Childbirth: Crow; Kulama ceremonies; sun; Totems.

Yarra river and Port Phillip The Koori people have a story about how the Yarra river and Port Phillip Bay on which Melbourne the capital of Victoria, now stands, came about. The area now known as Port Phillip Bay was once a flat plain and was inhabited by the Bunurong, Kurung and Wathaurung people. Inland lay a huge lake called Moorool. It covered much of the land of the Wurundjeri people and an elder, Bar-wood, decided to drain it. He began cutting a channel with a stone axe and cut a channel to Port Phillip plain. the waters of Moorool rushed down and flooded the land and the people living there had to flee to higher ground. There are other stories of the flooding of Port Phillip plain and these stories may contain a continuous folk memory of the rising of the seas at the end of the last ice age, thousands of years ago. Another Koori story tells how one day, when the men were away hunting and the women gathering roots and yams, some small boys who were left behind began playing and upset a bucket of water. This bucket was no ordinary bucket, but a magic one. Water flooded out and flooded out and not only filled up the plain of Port Phillip, but threatened to cover all the land. It was Bunjil, Eaglehawk, who came to the rescue of the Kooris. he placed a large rock on the Mornington peninsula and told the water to go where the bay enters the sea. he told the water to flow between them to enter the ocean. See also Crow.

Yothu Yindi Yothu Yindi are three Yulngu men from Yirrkala, Arnhem Land, Bakamana Yunupingu, Waitiyana Mariko and Milkayngu Mununggurr, who formed the group Yothu Yindi to bring their music and dance to the rest of the world. They have been very successful at doing this and have toured extensively. They perform both traditional and contemporary music and dance and have had a song on the Top forty hit parade in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Yuendumu (Ngama Outcrop) Yuendumu is a Walbiri town which lies on the edge of the Tanami desert, north-west of Alice Springs. it and its sister town Papunya are famous as being the homes of the originators of the Western Desert style of dot painting. These paintings record the Dreamings of the Walbiri people in symbolic form. There are many rock paintings here, the principal being one of the great snake Jarapiri stretched along a rock wall. Yuendumu is where Jarapiri, on his journey from Winbaraku, came up from the ground to teach the Walbiri the laws and customs which give shape to their lives. There is also a rock in the shape of Jarapiri's head pointing north to Arnhem Land, which is said to have been his ultimate destination. See also Dogs; Papunya Tula art.

Yugumbir people The Yugumbir people lived on the Logan river and they have preserved a full version of the mythology concerning the battle of the animals which marked the end of the Dreamtime and the reasons why it occurred in this area. In the Dreamtime when many of the mountains were still being made, much anger was felt by the land animals against the sea animals who frequently made visits ashore. Willy Wagtail arranged a vast meeting of the land animals and birds at which it was decided to attack the sea animals next time they came ashore. it was decided to appoint the giant freshwater turtle Bingingerra to be the leader. In the ensuring battle the sea animals were driven back into the sea and never ventured on land again.

There were many casualties of the battle. Goanna suffered mortal wounds and crawled inland to the base of the Great Dividing Range and turned into rock, his body becoming Mount Maroon. Koala lost his tail in the fighting and was so upset that he climbed a tree where he makes his home to this day. he seldom comes down, lives on gum leaves and, when frightened, cries like a human baby. Blood Bird, or Mistletoe Bird, received his vivid red breast from fighting at the side of Turtle. Bingingerra, Turtle, carried the battle far out to sea and when it was over dragged his weary body back to shoe and to the lagoons there. But he died from his wounds and turned into stone, becoming Mount Bingingerra (Mt Witheren) which is in the shape of a giant turtle. See also Great battles; Uluru.

Yulunggul Yulunggul is the giant serpent which swallowed the Duwa ancestral beings the Wawilag sisters and then later regurgitated them. He is sometimes seen as a rainbow. He is said to make lightning with his forked tongue and the thunder is his voice. See also Duwa moiety; Gunabibi; Gunabibi ceremonies.  

Australian Aboriginal Anthropology

Australian Aboriginal Anthropology 1

Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime

Australian Aboriginal Music

Australia Postcards and Picture Galleries
Australia Home Page
Pacific Islands Radio
Please enter your email address for your free Pacific Islands Radio Newsletter!


Hosted By Topica















Jane's Oceania Home Page Newsletter
to get the latest news, information and Web site updates!
Please enter your email address below,
then click the 'Join' button
for your free Newsletter!
 Join newsletter! 
Search Jane's Oceania Travel Page Search the Internet

Oceania Time Zones
Oceania Weather

Back to Jane Resture's Oceania Page

Back to Jane's Oceania Home Page

(E-mail: -- Rev. 16th March 2009)
eXTReMe Tracker