The story I’m about to tell you now is about Illawarra and the five islands.
The story starts off with three of our warriors that used to live way out from the mainland on a little island. They lived out there for quite a while and their food started to run out on the island and there was only one canoe between the three of them.
These three men we’ll call Whale, Koala and Starfish. As the food started to die off, Koala and Starfish said to Whale (because he was the only one who had a canoe), ‘Can we borrow your canoe and we’ll paddle into the mainland and go and fill the canoe up with food and we’ll bring it back and share it out with you.’
Whale thought to himself for a minute, ‘If I give them my canoe, they’re going to go in there and leave me here and I’ll starve to death and they’ll keep my canoe.’ So he said to them ‘No, you’re not getting my canoe.’
So Koala and Starfish had a little meeting between themselves and they made up a plan to steal the canoe.
Koala said to Starfish, ‘I know a way to get this canoe off this fella. He’s got mullars in his head. Lice.
He likes me to look in his head and kill those lice. When I do that, there’s a big log over there. I’m going to take him down onto the beach and sit down. I’ll put his head on my lap and while I’m looking in his head he’ll doze off.
Then you pinch his canoe and roll that big log over.’
Whale had a stick and when Koala was looking in his head, he’d start to doze off, he’d tap with his stick against the canoe.
Koala had a big long stick, sharpened on the end to part Whale’s hair and kill these lice in his head. And as he was parting his hair, Whale started to go off into a really deep sleep and started snoring.
So Starfish dragged the canoe away and rolled the log over. The plan was for Starfish to get in the canoe and start paddling out and Koala was going to dive in the water and swim out after him. Starfish got the canoe down into the water and hopped in and started paddling out. Koala lifted Whale’s head off his lap and put it on the sand. By this time Whale was sound asleep, snoring.
Koala ran down to the edge of the water and he was just about to dive in when Whale woke up. Whale ran down to the edge of the water and caught Koala before he could dive in the water and they had big fight at the water’s edge.
Whale started to get the better of Koala, punching him, and Koala reached around behind him and stabbed him in the back of the neck with this big sharp stick. Then Koala dived in the water and he swam out and got in the canoe with Starfish and they paddled away.
They had almost reached the land up near Wollongong and by this time Whale had reached around the back of his neck and pulled out the sharp stick. He dived in the water and he was a really strong swimmer, so he swam after the other two and caught them just before they reached Port Kembla.
Whale rose up out of the water and he came down on the canoe and smashed it into five pieces. Then he looked around and he spotted Koala swimming towards the shore. So he caught up with Koala and punched him in the face, flattened his face and stretched his ears out. Koala got away and swam into shore, ran up a big gum tree and sat shaking in the fork of the tree.
Then Whale looked around for Starfish and he caught him sneaking into a little rockpool in the corner of the beach. He caught Starfish and he pounded him flat and stretched him this way and that way and that way.
Just about that time, they started to take the shapes they’re in now. Koala stayed as the little koala up in the tree. Starfish turned into the little starfish over in the rockpool and Whale turned into the big whale. That wound in the back of his neck is his breathing hole. So as he came up for air he was able to breathe that way.
That’s the story about Illawarra and five islands. Every year you see the whales going up the coast and coming back down and lots of people think they’re going up there for a special reason, but that’s Whale going up there looking for Koala and Starfish to give them another flogging.