Emu and the Jabiru

Once at a place called Nurrurrumba lived a person called Gandji and his children, and a man call Wurrpan, with his children. The men were brothers-in-law.

One day, Gandji and his children went down to fish for stingray. When they got to the salt water, they saw the water was clean and clear to the bottom. It was easy to see all types of stingrays, which they started to spear as they walked through the water up to their knees.

After spearing the stingrays they went back to the shore and started gathering firewood and cooking the stingrays, separating the meat from the fat.

They grabbed some bark and wrapped up the meat and the fat and went back to the camp where Wurrpan and his children were.

When they got to the camp, they sat down and Gandji called out to one of the Wurrpan children to get their share. But when they had separated the fat and the meat, they had kept the sweet, fresh ones for themselves and gave the old bits to Wurrpan and his family.

So one of the Wurrpan children ran over and grabbed the bark parcel of stingray and took it over to his father, who quickly untied it. When he opened it he noticed that he and his family had been given old stingray pieces, and then he said, ‘They must have kept the fresh, sweet ones for themselves.’

So they ate what they had been given and then afterwards, Wurrpan stood up and said, to the other family, ‘You gave me and my kids old stingrays, while you and your family had the fresh ones.’ So they started arguing.

Gandji said, ‘You should have gone stingray fishing for yourselves.’ So they argued and argued and argued until Gandji grabbed a handful of hot coals and threw them at Wurrpan. He turned around and grabbed a smooth rock called Buyburu, which he used for grinding cycad nuts. He threw it at Wurrpan and hit him right on the chest.

Then Gandji started jumping around in fear of what Wurrpan might do to him. From jumping he started flying, higher and higher. As he flew he turned into a Jabiru without a beak and flew away.

Then Wurrpan told his children to bring him his spear, which was called Wandhawarri Djimbarrmirri. He tried pointing the spear up in the air where Gandji was, but he noticed the spear was too long because it was bending backwards. So he told his children to bring a sharp rock to cut the spear shorter. The second time he aimed it was just right.

He aimed at Gandji and said to the spear, ‘Please don’t let me miss.’

Then he threw the spear up into the sky where Gandji was flying around. The spear went right through Gandji, from his behind through to his face, until it poked out, making a beak. Gandji fell from the sky and landed at a place called Ngurruyurrdjurr.

Wurrpan said to his children, ‘Let’s get out of here while we are still alive. Come on, as fast as we can. We’ll head towards Milindji Dhawarri.’

As they were running, they started to change into Emus. That made them move faster. Their feathers were grey because of the ash that Gandji threw and they had a bump on their front where the stone had hit.

Today, Yolngu remember this story in the way they cook Wurrpan meat in the fire. They always half-cook it, wiping off the ash before they eat it. That’s the story of the Emu and the Jabiru. Today, the Emu has eggs the same shape as the rock that hit him.

Eaglehawk and Crow

This is another Ngiyaampaa story and it’s about Eaglehawk and Crow.

Long, long time ago Eaglehawk, it was his turn to go hunting. So Eaglehawk had a little baby, and he asked Crow, he went over to his neighbour Crow and asked Crow if he’d look after his baby while he went hunting, because food was getting much scarcer now and they had to go much further and further away from the camp.

So Eaglehawk, he went to Crow and asked him. Crow didn’t want to look after the baby, he said “No, no I don’t want to look after the baby, he’s crying too much, he’ll cry all the time and disturb the camp”. But Eaglehawk said, “No, he’ll be right, Crow”. He said, “You take him away and you sit down there and talk to him, or sing to him and he’ll quieten down”. Crow was still reluctant to take the baby, he said, “No, I don’t want to look after the kid”.

So anyway, Eaglehawk just handed the baby to Crow and said, “Okay, when we come back, whatever meat we get we’ll bring it back and we’ll share it with you”. Crow had to be satisfied with that and Eaglehawk just went off with his young men and of course they had to go a long, long way from the camp.

But Crow, after he got the baby, he took it into his gunyah, his hut, and he sat down there with the baby and he was singing to it and talking to it, but the baby wouldn’t stop crying. Just kept on crying and crying and crying.

So Crow was getting really annoyed, no way he could stop the baby. So Crow went out and he got his boondie-his hitting stick-and banged the little fella with the hitting stick and killed him. Then he got the baby and he put it up the back of his camp, right in the back of the gunyah. He put all the leaves around it, and a bit of bark and a kangaroo skin. He had a kangaroo skin, a cloak, so he put that over the baby. And anyway, everything was quiet then so Crow went away from his camp and started doing what he wanted to do then.

So after, when Eaglehawk came back late in the afternoon, Crow ran back into the camp and he was sitting at the doorway and he was making out he was singing to the baby. Crow’s sitting there and Eaglehawk came up to him and said “I’ve come to pick my baby up now Crow. He’s very quiet, you must have sung him to sleep.

And Crow said, “Yeah, he’s right in the back of the gunyah there, he’s right in the back of the camp. He’s sound asleep. Don’t wake him, leave him there. Eaglehawk said, “No, I’ll take him home now and look after him”.

So when Eaglehawk walked into the camp, the gunyah, to get his baby, he noticed that everything was really still and too still around him. So once Eaglehawk walked into the back of the camp and picked the baby up, Crow took off and he ran out and hid in the mallee, the thick scrub.

So Eaglehawk he started yelling, “My baby, Crow killed my baby”, so all his other hunters came up to him with their spears and he said, “Go after him. Chase him into the thick mallee and get him. We’ll kill him”. So they ran after Crow, but he got right into the centre of the mallee and they couldn’t find him. So Eaglehawk said, “We’ll set a light to the mallee and we’ll burn him out. He’s got to be punished for what he did to my baby.”

So they set a light to the mallee, and they went right back, away from the fire and they’re sitting right out there, waiting for all the smoke to go away. And then they saw this bird flying out of the smoke, at the end of the smoke this black bird came out. And Eaglehawk said, “That’s him. That’s Crow. He’s been punished now, his spirit turned into a black bird.”

And today, Eaglehawk and Crow still carry on the fight after that. They’re birds today and they still carry on the fight. Crow will still go up to Eaglehawk’s nest and try to pick at his babies, the eyes of his babies. And in the air when Eaglehawk’s circling for food, Crow will go after him again and try to pick at him. So they still carry on the fight after what happened when they were people years ago.