Australian Legendary Tales - 15 Australian Tales
AUSTRALIAN LEGENDARY TALES
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A GREAT READ FOR CLOSET KIDS
This first book by K. Langloh Parker is still one of the best available collections of Australian Aboriginal folklore. It was written for a popular audience, but the stories are retold with integrity, and not filtered, as was the case with similar books from this period. That said, the style of this book reflects Victorian sentimentality and, an occasional tinge of racism that may not sit well with some modern readers.
Here children will find here the Jungle Book of Australia, but there is no Mowgli, set apart as a man. For man, bird, and beast are all blended in the Aboriginal psyche. All are of one kindred, all shade into each other; all obey the Bush Law. Unlike any European Märchen, these stories do not have the dramatic turns of Western folk-lore. There are no distinctions of wealth and rank, no Cinderella nor a Puss in Boots. The struggle for food and water is the perpetual theme, and no wonder, for the narrators dwell in a dry and thirsty land. We see cunning in the devices used for hunting, especially for chasing honey bees and the throwing of bommerangs. The Rain-magic, actually practised, is of curious interest. In brief, we have pictures of the hard life of the Aborigines, romances which are truly realistic.
Katie Langloh Parker [1856-1940] lived in the Australian outback most of her life, close to the Eulayhi people. The texts, with their sentient animals and mythic transformations, have a somnambulistic and chaotic narrative that mark them as authentic dreamtime lore. The mere fact that she cared to write down these stories places her far ahead of her contemporaries, who, at the time, barely regarded native Australians as human.
The manners and rites of the natives seemed to be by far the most archaic of all. They did not have Kings and nations; they were wanderers, houseless, but not homeless. The mysteries of the natives, the initiatory rites, a little of the magic, a great deal of the social customs and fragments of the myths had been recorded. But, till Mrs. Langloh Parker compiled this book, we had but few of the stories which Australian natives tell by the camp-fire or in the gum-tree shade.
Parker has some odd connections with modern popular culture. She was rescued from drowning by an aborigine at an early age. This incident was portrayed in the film 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'. The song They Call the Wind Mariah was based on a story from this book and the pop singer Mariah Cary was reputedly named after this song.
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Excerpt from AUSTRALIAN LEGENDARY TALES
THE GALAH AND OOLAH THE LIZARD
OOLAH the lizard was tired of lying in the sun, doing nothing. So he said, "I will go and play." He took his boomerangs out, and began to practise throwing them. While he was doing so a Galah came up, and stood near, watching the boomerangs come flying back, for the kind of boomerangs Oolah was throwing were the bubberahs. They are smaller than others, and more curved, and when they are properly thrown they return to the thrower, which other boomerangs do not.
Oolah was proud of having the gay Galah to watch his skill. In his pride he gave the bubberah an extra twist, and threw it with all his might. Whizz, whizzing through the air, back it came, hitting, as it passed her, the Galah on the top of her head, taking both feathers and skin clean off. The Galah set up a hideous, cawing, croaking shriek, and flew about, stopping every few minutes to knock her head on the ground like a mad bird.
Oolah was so frightened when he saw what he had done, and noticed that the blood was flowing from the Galah's head, that he glided away to hide under a bindeah bush. But the Galah saw him. She never stopped the hideous noise she was making for a minute, but, still shrieking, followed Oolah. When she reached the bindeah bush she rushed at Oolah, seized him with her beak, rolled him on the bush until every bindeah had made a hole in his skin. Then she rubbed his skin with her own bleeding head. "Now then," she said, "you Oolah shall carry bindeahs on you always, and the stain of my blood."
"And you," said Oolah, as he hissed with pain from the tingling of the prickles, "shall be a bald-headed bird as long as I am a red prickly lizard."
So to this day, underneath the Galah's crest you can always find the bald patch which the bubberah of Oolah first made. And in the country of the Galahs are lizards coloured reddish brown, and covered with spikes like bindeah prickles.
Table of Contents for AUSTRALIAN LEGENDARY TALES
|Dinewan the Emu, and Goomblegubbon the Bustard|
|The Galah, and Oolah the Lizard|
|Bahloo the Moon and the Daens|
|The Origin of the Narran Lake|
|Gooloo the Magpie, and the Wahroogah|
|The Weeoonibeens and the Piggiebillah|
|Bootoolgah the Crane and Goonur the Kangaroo Rat, the Fire Makers|
|Weedah the Mocking Bird|
|The Gwineeboos the Redbreasts|
|Meamei the Seven Sisters|
|The Cookooburrahs and the Goolahgool|
|Oongnairwah and Guinarey|
|Narahdarn the Bat|
|Mullyangah the Morning Star|
|Goomblegubbon, Beeargah, and Ouyan|
|Mooregoo the Mopoke and Bahloo the Moon|
|Ouyan the Curlew|
|Dinewan the Emu and Wahn the Crows|
|Goolahwilleel the Topknot Pigeons|
|Goonur, the Woman-Doctor|
|Deereeree the Wagtail and the Rainbow|
|Mooregoo the Mopoke and Mooninguggahgul the Mosquito Bird|
|Bougoodoogahdah the Rain Bird|
|The Borah of Byamee|
|Bunnyyarl the Flies and Wurrunnunnah the Bees|
|Deegeenboyah the Soldier-bird|
|Mayrah, the Wind that Blows the Winter Away|
|Wayarnbeh the Turtle|
|Wirreenun the Rainmaker|
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