At the beginning of the Dreamtime, the earth was flat and dry and empty. There were no trees, no rivers, no animals and no grass. It was a dry and flat land.
One day, Goorialla, the rainbow serpent woke from his sleep and set off to find his tribe. He crossed Australia from east to west and north to south, stopping to listen for his people. He crossed every part of the dry, flat Australia but found nothing. After searching for a long time, he grew tired and lay down to sleep.
The land he lay down to sleep on was not the same land he had set out to search for his people on, though. As he had looked for his people, his big, long body had cut great gouges into the land.
Goorialla lay in the sand all alone until he decided to create more life in the world. He called “Frogs, come out!” and frogs rose out of the ground with their bellies full of the water they stored. He tickled the frogs until the water burst from their mouth and filled the gouges in the land. These gouges made the rivers and streams we see today.
As the water flowed over the land, grass and trees began to grow and fill the land with colour.
Now that there was grass to eat and water to drink, Goorialla woke the animals. The kookaburra laughed, the goanna walked, and the wombat climbed out of her burrow, all for the first time. Some animals lived in the sea, swimming back and forward. Some animals lived in the sky, flying with their friends to distant places. Some animals lived on the land, digging and playing in the sand. They were happy and gathered food and water to bring back to their own tribes.
The Rainbow Serpent made rules that all animals had to obey. He said “All animals that obey the rules will be rewarded by becoming humans. The animals that disobey the rules will be punished” Some animals followed the rules and were rewarded by being turned into humans. Other animals disobeyed the rules and were turned into the stone that makes the mountains.
One day, it started to rain. And it rained like it had never rained before. Rain fell for days and days and the world was becoming flooded with water. Two young men, Bil-bil, or the Rainbow Lorikeet brothers had no shelter and they came to the Rainbow Serpent. They asked for help sheltering from the rain.
The rainbow serpent was hungry and tricked the young men “I have no shelter, but you can hide in my mouth. You’ll be safe from the rain in there.” The young men climbed into Goorialla’s mouth and he closed it shut, swallowing both men.
He soon realised that people would notice the young men missing and come looking for them. He knew they would find their track leading right into his mouth. He didn’t want to be caught and so decided to hide in the only place he knew he would be safe: the sky.
He hid in the sky away from the people chasing him and he saw their sadness at losing these two young men. He decided to try and make them happy again so turned his body into a big arc of beautiful colours.
Now, every time, just after it rains, you can see the Rainbow Serpent sharing his beautiful colours with the people on the ground as his way of saying sorry for taking those Rainbow Lorikeet brothers.