Of the Noongahburrah Tribe of the Narran
GOOMBLEGUBBON the bustard, his two wives, Beeargah the hawk, and Ouyan the curlew, with the two children of Beeargah, had their camps right away in the bush; their only water supply was a small dungle, or gilguy hole. The wives and children camped in one camp, and Goomblegubbon a short distance off in another. One day the wives asked their husband to lend them the dayoorl stone, that they might grind some doonburr to make durrie. But he would not lend it to them, though they asked him several times. They knew he did not want to use it himself, for they saw his durrie on a piece of bark, between two fires, already cooking. They determined to be revenged, so said:
“We will make some water bags of the opossum skins; we will fill them with water, then some day when Goomblegubbon is out hunting we will empty the dungle of water, take the children, and run away! When he returns he will find his wives and children gone and the dungle empty; then he will be sorry that he would not lend us the dayoorl.”
The wives soon caught some opossums, killed and skinned them, plucked all the hair from the skins, saving it to roll into string to make goomillahs, cleaned the skins of all flesh, sewed them up with the sinews, leaving only the neck opening. When finished, they blew into them, filled them with air, tied them up and left them to dry for a few days. When they were dry and ready to be used, they chose a day when Goomblegubbon was away, filled the water bags, emptied the dungle, and started towards the river.
Having travelled for some time, they at length reached the river. They saw two black fellows on the other side, who, when they saw the runaway wives and the two children, swam over to them and asked whence they had come and whither they were going.
“We are running away from our husband Goomblegubbon, who would lend us no dayoorl to grind our doonburr on, and we ran away lest we and our children should starve, for we could not live on meat alone. But whither we are going we know not, except that it must be far away, lest Goomblegubbon follow and kill us.”
The black fellows said they wanted wives, and would each take one, and both care for the children. The women agreed. The black fellows swam back across the river, each taking a child first, and then a woman, for as they came from the back country, where no creeks were, the women could not swim.
Goomblegubbon came back from hunting, and, seeing no wives, called aloud for them, but heard no answer. Then he went to their camp, and found them not. Then turning towards the dungle he saw that it was empty. Then he saw the tracks of his wives and children going towards the river. Great was his anger, and vowing he would kill them when he found them, he picked up his spears and followed their tracks, until he too reached the river. There on the other side he saw a camp, and in it he could see strange black fellows, his wives, and his children. He called aloud for them to cross him over, for he too could not swim. But the sun went down and still they did not answer. He camped where he was that night, and in the morning he saw the camp opposite had been deserted and set fire to; the country all round was burnt so that not even the tracks of the black fellows and his wives could be found, even had he been able to cross the river. And never again did he see or hear of his wives or his children.
Australian Legendary Tales
Folk-Lore of the Noongahburrahs as told to the Piccaninnies
Collected by Mrs. K. Langloh Parker
With Introduction by Andrew Lang, M.A.
Illustrations by a Native Artist [Tommy McRae], and Speciment of the Native Text
London, David Nutt, 270-271, Strand
Melbourne, Melville, Mullen & Slade
Recording by “Magdalena” Courtesy: Librivox