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Title:  The Walkabouts Of Wur-Run-Nah
Author: K. Langloh Parker
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1900741h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  July 2019
Most recent update: July 2019

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The Walkabouts Of Wur-Run-Nah

Catherine Stow (K. Langloh Parker

Illustrated by Marion Hart

IN the “Dark Backward” were made the Blackfellows’ Fairy Tales.

Then all Nature was related. The Beasts, the Birds, the Fish, the Insects, the Trees, the Bushes, everything really was claimed as kin by man, and very strange were some of the things that happened.

And strangest of all were the wonders seen by Wur-Run-Nah in his Walkabouts.

The Law of the Tribes said, “Keep to your own Tauri”; that means keep to the country where you were born.

“Travel from your own Tauri, then evil will befall you.”

So for the most part the Black Tribes kept each to his own Tauri, but into every Tribe a Walkabout Spirit is born.

Wur-Run-Nah was such an one, ever restless, waiting only some chance to start him off.

One day after a long hunt he came back tired and hungry. He asked his Mother for grass-seed bread. She said there was none left. He asked the other Blacks to give him some seed that he might make bread for himself.

No one would give him anything. A hungry man, black or white, is an angry man. Wur-Run-Nah raged at his Tribe, snatched up his weapons and said, “My own people would starve me; I will go to strangers”.


He had gone some way when he saw an old man chopping out Bees’ nests. The old man turned his face towards Wur-Run-Nah, and seemed to watch him coming. When Wur-Run-Nah came close to him, he saw the old man had no eyes. This made him feel as if something were queer, a man with no eyes seeming to look at him all the time.

The old man must have guessed what he thought for he told him the name of his Tribe was Mooroonumildah, so called because they had no eyes but saw through their noses.

The old man seemed kind; he said, “You look hungry; take this honey; my camp is over there, go to it and rest”.

Wur-Run-Nah took the honey, turned as if to go to the camp, but when he was out of sight he turned another way.

He reached a large lagoon; he took a long drink of the water, and then lay down to sleep.

When he woke in the morning he looked towards the lagoon. There was no lagoon; only a big dry plain.

“This is a strange country,” he said to himself. “First I meet a man who has no eyes and yet can see; then at night I see a lagoon of water; I drink some; I wake in the morning and there is no water.”

He saw a storm was coming up, so moved into the scrub for shelter.

When he had gone a little way he saw heaps of cut bark lying on the ground.

“That’s good”, he said; “with this bark I shall make a shelter from the storm”.

As he lifted the bark he saw a strange object, which cried out, “I am Bulgahnunnoo”.

Wur-Run-Nah dropped the bark, picked up his weapons and ran away as fast as he could from the terrifying voices of the Bark-backed Tribe.

On he ran until he came to a river which hemmed him in on three sides.

The river was too high to cross, so he turned in another direction. He saw a flock of Emus coming to water. The first half of the flock were covered with feathers, and the last half had no feathers. Wur-Run-Nah, hungry as usual, thought he would spear one for food. He climbed up a tree that they might not see him; he got his spear ready to aim at one of the featherless birds. He picked one out, threw his spear and killed it, climbed down to get it. As he was running up to the dead Emu he saw that what he had thought were birds were men of a strange Tribe; they gathered round their dead friend and made savage signs of vengeance.


Wur-Run-Nah just rushed away, and was almost into a strange camp before he saw it.

Here, however, were only seven young girls, who looked more frightened than he was.

When they found he was alone they were quite friendly, gave him food, and said he might camp there that night. They told him the rest of their Tribe were in a far country; they were having a Walkabout and would soon go back.

Wur-Run-Nah pretended to leave the next day, but he really hid near, meaning to steal one of the girls for a wife, as he was tired of travelling alone.

He saw the Seven Sisters start out with their yam sticks for digging roots to eat. He followed, not letting them see him.

They stopped to dig out some nests of flying ants, and sat down to have a feast. While they were feasting, Wur-Run-Nah sneaked up to their yam sticks and stole two of them, then sneaked back to his hiding-place.

When their feast was over the Seven Sisters looked for their sticks, but only five found them and started off, leaving the other two to find theirs and follow.

Round and round the ant nests the girls hunted, but could find no sticks. At last, when their backs were turned towards him, Wur-Run-Nah crept up, stuck the yam sticks near together in the ground, then crept back to his hiding-place.

When the girls turned round, there in front of them they saw their sticks. With glad cries of surprise they caught hold of them, trying to pull them out of the ground.

Out from his hiding-place jumped Wur-Run-Nah. He seized both girls; they struggled, they screamed. But finding their struggles and screams did not free them, they grew quiet.

Wur-Run-Nah told them not to be afraid, he would take care of them; he was lonely and wanted two wives to walk about with him.

Seeing no hope of escape, the girls went with him; they knew their sisters would not forget them, but would somehow release them.

One day Wur-Run-Nah told them to go and get some bark from two pine trees near, to make his fire burn.

“We must not cut pine bark”, they said; “the pines are our relations”.

“Go, do as I tell you; cut pine bark.”

“Never more will you see us if we do.”

“Go, did talk ever make a fire burn? Swifter of foot am I if you should run away. Stop your talk and go.”

They went, each to a tree; each with a strong hit drove her stone tomahawk into the bark.


As they did so each felt the trees they had struck rise higher out of the ground, higher and still higher, bearing the girls upward with them.

Wur-Run-Nah, getting no answer to his angry shouts for bark, looked towards the trees. Their tops were now touching the sky, and from the sky the five other sisters looked out, calling their two sisters to join them. They quickly did so, and there they are still in their Sky camp, still called the Seven Sisters; five shine brightly, the other two not so brightly.


Seeing they were lost to him, Wur-Run-Nah travelled on till he reached Nindeegoolee; there he camped by some water.

Suddenly he saw a strange creature coming towards him, having the body and head of a dog, feet of a woman, and a short tail. It bounded four or five feet in the air as it came along, making a whirring, whizzing noise with its lips.

“It must be Earmooän, one of the pups of the dog The Greatest of All, left at Noondoo.”

He called out, “Where is your old master?”

For answer Earmooän made a spluttering, whizzing noise with his lips.

Wur-Run-Nah said, “Has he left you for ever?”


Again came the spluttering, whizzing noise, and a blowing-out sound like “Phur-r, phur-r”.

“Is it true that he has gone for ever?”

“Phur-r, phur-r”, came the answer. Wur-Run-Nah liked not his look nor his noise.

“Go,” he said, “you tell me nothing of Byamee The Greatest of All”.

At the sound of the name Byamee, Earmooän jumped away with a final “Phur-r, phur-r”, and disappeared into the sand ridges where he and all the rest of the litter lived in huge caves, where they imprisoned travellers unless they were driven away by the name of Byamee The Greatest of All, once on earth, now in his Sky Camp, the path to which lies along that star course called the Milky Way.

Wur-Run-Nah went on, not knowing where he went; at last he reached the Sea.

Seeing a wide water before him, he stooped to drink.

“Kuh!” he said, as he swallowed a mouthful before he realized the strange taste, “Salt! Salt!”

He thought first the white froth was salt, so he cleared that off and tasted again.

“Kuh! Kuh! Salt! Salt! I thirst; I must go back to water-holes I passed, and drink there.”

Looking at the wide sea of water he said, “What sort of flood water is this that has no tree in it, not even a bush, and is salt, salt? It does not look like flood water at all. It looks like the Sky come down to earth with white clouds on it. Yet when the clouds move the Sky is still; all this moves and is water, though surely man never tasted such before”.

Having quenched his thirst at the water-holes, he killed two Opossums and skinned them to make water-bags.

That night he camped out of sight of the sea, but he heard a booming noise, for the wind had risen.

The next morning he went to see the big water again. He looked for a bank on the far side; seeing none he climbed a high tree a few hundred feet from the beach and looked seaward, but saw no bank, no trees, only water—that day a dark, troubled-looking water.

“There is a thunderstorm in it. This must be where the thunder camps, and the roaring winds,” he said as he heard the angry booming. He saw the tide rising and the waves chasing each other on to the beach, where they dashed with an angry roar, going back only to come rushing in again higher and higher each time.

“There must be debbil-debbils in it; they are trying to get me. I will go up that high mountain and see it all better beyond.” But only water could he see.

Back to the water-holes then he went and made the Opossum skins into bags. He waited until the strange water was still, as when he first saw it, then he went to it and filled his bags with it. He picked up a few shells and took them with him. He started to go back to his tribe to tell what he had seen, taking with him the bags of water that they might taste it, and see the shells, and know his story was true.

On his way back he met a very old Blackfellow to whom he told what he had seen. The old man tasted the water, spat it out and said, “I have heard of this roaring water full of Monsters; saw you any?”

“Nothing did I see but water, water everywhere, but the roar of the Monsters I heard, and their howls of rage when I escaped.”

Before he left the old man Wur-Run-Nah gave him a shell which became the treasure of his Tribe, and for which many other tribes fought.

At length Wur-Run-Nah reached his own Tauri and told his adventures to his Tribe, and so wonder-stricken were they, and he such a hero, that for a time he was content to stay.

But when all knew all he had to tell, and wonder grew less, Wur-Run-Nah became angry, and again said, “I will go to a strange tribe; you have no ears”.

So off he started on another temper trip; his temper should have been cooled, for it rained heavily all the night. The next morning he saw a lot of leaves lying about.


“There are Opossums here,” he said, and he put his stick into a hollow tree near. There, sure enough, he felt an Opossum. He went to his fire, got some hot coals, and threw them down the holes in the trees to make the Opossums come out. Soon Opossums from every tree around him jumped out, each crying, “I am a Spirit Opossum”.

Wur-Run-Nah saw that they were so, for they had wings and long claws. As they came out they flew towards him.

Fortunately Wur-Run-Nah was a Wizard, so had power to change himself into his own familiar Spirit, the Wild Turkey.


In this form he flew far away, then turned himself back into his own shape. He had scarcely done so when he saw a very strange-looking man, who had no eyes and a forehead like a tomahawk. He used his forehead just as if it were a tomahawk, and did his chopping with it. As he had no eyes, he saw, as Mooroonumildah had done, through his nose. He, too, seemed kind, and gave Wur-Run-Nah honey, and offered other food if Wur-Run-Nah would go to his Camp with him; but Wur-Run-Nah felt rather frightened of him, as he could never tell when he was looking at him, and his forehead was so queer. Wur-Run-Nah said he was sorry, but he must get back to his children whom he had left in the Bush; he would return later. And as fast as he could go, off he went, taking good care to carry the honey with him: any and every time was the time for food with Wur-Run-Nah.

Next he saw a Porcupine running towards him, carrying another on his back, calling as he came, “Go-oh, go-oh”, which meant “Come, come, come”.

Wur-Run-Nah stared round to see who was calling. He heard the voice coming from the Porcupine, who told him he had brought his brother for Wur-Run-Nah’s dinner, and he hoped he would stay and feed with him.


Wur-Run-Nah, who never refused food, took the Porcupine, but said his children were camped a little way off; he must go and get them.

Away he went at almost a racing speed, hid himself in the Bush with the Porcupine, of which he had soon made a good meal, so good that he was too sleepy to move afterwards; so to sleep he went, but with one ear open that in case the Porcupine tracked him he might hear him coming, and get away. When he was rested, off he started again.

A little way off he saw Bahloo, the Moon shaking grubs out of a white wood tree; as these grubs are good for food, Wur-Run-Nah went near, hoping to get some.


After shaking the tree, Bahloo turned, pressed his back against it; smash it went, scattering grubs all round, which Bahloo began picking up. Seeing Wur-Run-Nah's hungry look, he told him to come and pick some up too.

Wur-Run-Nah, the Always Hungry One, lost no time in doing so.

When he had as many as he could carry he said he must go to his children and give them a feed.

“Where are they?” asked Bahloo.

“Not far”, said Wur-Run-Nah.

“Then go and bring them and let us eat here; there are heaps of grubs for all.”

Off hurried Wur-Run-Nah, safe away agan, with another good feed. When he thought he had gone a safe distance he sat down and gorged himself with grubs, very glad that he had no children really to share them with him. “Children are too greedy”, said the Always Hungry One.

After another sleep with one eye open, on he went and next reached the country where flies and mosquitoes were as large as butterflies. He broke off a leafy twig and kept brushing them away as well as he could, but in spite of that they settled in swarms all over him; he wondered if anyone could possibly live in such a country.

He was sure not until he saw strange-looking objects moving ahead of him. They seemed like walking stumps sprouting with leaves. The trunks of their bodies were all bark-covered while round their feet and heads were bunches of leaves. As they came nearer Wur-Run-Nah saw they were men. Their eyes peered through holes in the bark which covered their faces.


They looked so strange that they terrified Wur-Run-Nah into crying out, “Bulgahnunnoo, Bulgahnunnoo! Bark-Backed”, and changing himself into his familiar Spirit, the Wild Turkey, he flew away, feeling his feet would not have taken him quickly enough.


When he thought he had gone far enough he flew down and changed himself back to his own shape.

He next saw a number of Featherless Emus and a Toothless Man.

By this time Wur-Run-Nah was really knocked up and gladly accepted the invitation of The Toothless Man to eat and rest with him.

But one night he was wakened from his sleep by a terrible blow across his mouth which knocked out his front teeth. He sprang to his feet and saw The Toothless Man smiling before him.

“Now you will be my brother always, as I am toothless; so here you will stay for ever, and be a mate for me.”

As he spoke the Featherless Emus made a ring round Wur-Run-Nah, who thought it wise to agree, at the same time determined to get away the first chance he had.

The next day The Toothless One told Wur-Run-Nah that he and the Emus were all going hunting; he asked him to go too. But Wur-Run-Nah said his mouth still pained him; he would stay and try to sleep.

Off they all went. As soon as they were well out of sight Wur-Run-Nah started in an opposite direction, and was far away before they discovered he had gone.

It was not long before he met another Tribe. They were just like Blackfellows, except for their feet, which were the same as Eagle Hawks’. They were called Billoo. They were kind to Wur-Run-Nah in the way The Always Hungry One liked, for they gave him as many Emu eggs as he could eat. When he had stuffed himself he told them he must get back to his children.

“Where are they”? asked Billoo.

“A little way off in the Scrub.”

“They must be hungry as you were. Take some eggs, give them a feed, and bring them here.”

Wur-Run-Nah took as many eggs as he could carry, and off he went, glad to make his escape so easily, for he knew by their feet that the Billoo were too queer a Tribe for him to risk staying with them.

Wur-Run-Nah had had so many frights, seen so many strange people, and was feeling so tired, that he thought after all the old plan of the Tribe to stay in its own Tauri was best; he would return to his, but he knew it was bad luck to follow your tracks back; that way would be danger for him, as he might meet those from whom he had escaped: he must make a round.

But even so he met strange Tribes. He came to some water-holes, and reaching out his hand, stooped to get water to drink. As he leant over he saw a number of Dwarfs walking about the bottom of this hole. These Dwarfs were catching fish. They were blind, so did not see Wur-Run-Nah; but they heard him, and cried out, “Where are you? Who are you?” Wur-Run-Nah never stopped to answer, but sped on.

Next he saw the Frog Tribe. It is the business of these Frogs to purify all flood water.

A flood was coming when Wur-Run-Nah reached their country.

When they had purified the water by throwing hot stones into it, they threw hundreds of sticks into the flood waters which, as they touched the water, turned into fish of all kinds.

This was the last strange Tribe Wur-Run-Nah saw on his way back to his own country, which at last he reached and once more became the storyteller at the Camp fires.

As he told of the dangers he had encountered, of the wonders he had seen, an old Wizard of the Tribe nodded, and when Wur-Run-Nah had finished said that long ago one of their Wizards had set out to find the Sky Camping Place of Byamee The Greatest of All; he had seen all these things, and when he found him Byamee seemed asleep with his eyes open, and would take no notice of him; very disappointed he returned, and before he died warned his Tribe never to do what he had done, for all these dangers were purposely put in the way of those who were daring enough to wish to see Byamee before their time.

Wur-Run-Nah said, “These dangers are not to stop you seeking Byamee, but to test your courage. I one day will seek for the Sky Camp of Byamee; I have passed these dangers once; why not again? The Old Wizard returned after seeing Byamee; why should not I?”

The old man said, “Take to your humpy a wife and keep to your own Tauri. Escaping dangers once, a wise man risks them not again”.

“You would make a woman of me. Now I am tired I will rest, and then go again. I wish no man of my Tribe to have seen more than I have seen. I might bring back something wonderful for my Tribe. You have told often that after Byamee left the Earth all the flowers perished and no blossoms were anywhere. Did not the Wizard then climb the Sacred Mountain, look on to Byamee’s Sky Camp, all round which did not flowers lie like rainbows, and did not they bring them back to Earth to be with us, to make our Tauri beautiful for evermore? More than flowers I might see and bring back; then you would not call me foolish, but Clever One.”

“Talk never made a Clever One. Each time you come back your tongue is longer. Go again, and you will be all tongue like an anteater. Ha! Ha! Wur-Run-Nah the Piggie-Billah”; and the old men cackled out their joke making Wur-Run-Nah more and more angry. He said nothing, but after a long rest and many feeds he started again, taking a wide round to avoid the dangers of his last journey.

He got some distance away when he saw some Emu tracks going to water.

Up a tree he climbed, taking his Emu spear with him, to wait until the Emus passed him to water; then he would spear one for food.


He had not very long to wait before a flock of Emus came along. But such Emus as Wur-Run-Nah, the Much Travelled, had never seen. They had the legs and feet of Emus and the bodies and heads of men.

As they came nearer they saw him and called out, “Who are you up a tree? Who are you ready to spear? Not us?”

They started running towards the water where their spears were soaking. Wur-Run-Nah dropped his spear, jumped down, ran to the creek above where the Emus were. He jumped in, and swam across before they had time to get their spears; he knew if they could have touched him he would instantly become as they were. He was safe; they could not swim.

Wur-Run-Nah next reached the big plain country; there he saw the Bindeah Tribe. He had been warned about this Tribe, too, having been told that as the people of it faced you they were men, but when they turned their backs they were roly-poly bushes.

Should you try to pass through their country they would roll along and make a prickly barrier to stop you from doing so.

They came towards Wur-Run-Nah, facing him and looking like men. He told them he was on his way to the Sacred Mountain and would not stay. They turned their backs, and looked like a moving bank of roly-poly bushes as they rolled along ahead of him to stop him getting away from their plain.


Seeing that they meant to encircle him, he changed himself into his other self, the Wild Turkey, and flew into a scrub at the other side of the plain, where he knew they could not follow him. Again he escaped safely. But he had flown in a different direction from the one he ought to have gone, and he could not quite tell where he was. He decided to camp there until the Stars came out, then learn from them which way to go.

He saw in the Scrub fruit trees which he had never seen before, and creepers, trailing from trees, covered with bright-coloured flowers, all unknown to him.

When he came out of the Scrub he found himself on a big plain again, three sides of which were bordered by the Scrub, the fourth by a large lake. This plain was covered with waving grasses and starry flowers of many colours.

He saw on it many women, most of whom seemed to be making weapons such as he had never seen before: boomerangs, boondees, and shields such as were unknown to his Tribe then.

There was a strange look about these women, but he went up boldly to them, and asked for some of their weapons.

One woman, who seemed to be a sort of queen over the others said to him, “No men are allowed in this country”, and seeing him look at the children, amongst whom were boys, she went on, “The fathers of our children here are the raindrops that drip from the hanging branches of the trees, and the boys here never grow into men; once a boy always a boy. You must go”.

“When you have given me some weapons”, answered Wur-Run-Nah, made bolder by knowing no men were about.

His Opossum skin rug caught her eye; she felt it; the softness pleased her. She said, “I will give you some weapons if you will give me your rug”.

He gave it to her. She said, “Go, bring us more rugs, and we will give you some more weapons”.

Wur-Run-Nah agreed to this, and as no wise man breaks a promise to a woman lest evil befall him, he returned with the weapons to his Tribe who were delighted; such they had never seen.

“Having brought us these, you will stay and hunt with us.”

“I said I would go to the Sacred Mountain and I will go, but let some men come with me as far as the women’s country, taking Opossum rugs, and then they can bring back more weapons while I go on; and if I never return, this remember, I brought you weapons such as you never saw before.”

Wur-Run-Nah when they started warned his companions that there were unknown dangers on that plain, for he was sure the women were Spirits. They had told him there was no death in their country, nor was there any night; the Sun shone always.


He said, “When the dark rolls away from our country it does not go into theirs, which is where our Sun, being a woman, goes to rest. The dark just rolls itself under the Earth until it is time to come back here. There is, too, an evil smell on that plain which seemed to have Death in it, though the women said no Death came there. We shall do well to smoke ourselves before we go out of the darkness on to that plain”.

Wur-Run-Nah arranged that he would go round to the other side of the plain and make another fire, to smoke them again directly they came away, so that no evil would cling to them, and be carried back to their Tribe.

As the strange women might tempt them to forget and linger longer than was good for them, he had a plan for warning them.

He would take his two brothers with him; by his magic he would turn them into two large water birds. There were no birds of any sort on the lake, so these would be quickly noticed.

As soon as he had the smoke fire ready he would send his brothers swimming opposite the women’s camp.

Seeing them the women would, in their wonder, forget the men, who were to go on to the plain, and get what they wanted.

He told every man to take an animal with him; should the women interfere with them to let these animals go; there were none on that plain. The women’s attention would be taken off again, then the men must hasten to make their escape back into the darkness, where these women of the Always Light country would fear to follow them.

When this was all arranged, each man found an animal and, securing it, started.

Amongst them they had Opossums, Native Cats, Bandicoots, Flying Squirrels, various kinds of Rats, and such. When they reached where the darkness was rolled up on the edge of the plain the men camped.

Wur-Run-Nah and his two brothers sped through the Scrub, skirting the plain, until they reached the far side. There Wur-Run-Nah lit a fire, then turned to his brothers, produced a large crystal from inside himself, and muttered a sort of sing-song over them.

Soon they cried, “Biboh! Biboh!” changing as they did so into large pure white birds, such as we call Swans.

The men on the other side of the plain, having lit their fire, were smoking themselves in it.

The women saw the smoke curling up towards their plain, and crying, “Weebulloo! Weebulloo!” ran towards it armed with spears. As they did so one of them gave a cry of surprise, the others looked round; there on their lake they saw swimming two huge white birds.


The smoke was forgotten. Even in Spirit Land women were still curious. They ran towards the new wonders, seeing which the men rushed to the deserted camp for weapons.

Turning from the Swans, the women saw them, and came angrily towards them.

Then each man let go the animal he had. Far and wide on the plains went Opossums, Bandicoots, Buckandees, Flying Squirrels, and others; shrieking after them went the women.

The men dropped the Opossum rugs and loaded themselves with weapons and started towards Wur-Run-Nah’s smoke signal, now curling up in a spiral column.

Having caught some of the animals, the women remembered the men, whom they saw leaving their camps laden with weapons.

Screeching with anger, they started after them, but too late. The men passed into the darkness, where they smoked all evil of the plain from them in Wur-Run-Nah’s fire.

On the women came until they saw the smoke, then cried again, “Weebulloo! Weebulloo!” They feared the dark and they feared a fire, an unknown thing in their country.

Failing to recover their weapons, they turned to try and capture the strange white birds. But these had gone, too.

They were so angry that they began to quarrel, and from words got to heavy blows. Their blood flowed freely, staining the whole of the Western Sky where their country is. And when the tribes see a red sunset, such as only the inland tribes see, they say, “Look at the blood of the Weebulloo; they must be fighting again.”

The men went back with their weapons, and Wur-Run-Nah travelled on alone towards the Sacred Mountain, which lay to the North-East of Weebulloo.

He forgot all about his brothers, though they flew after him, and tried, by their cry of “Biboh! Biboh!” to attract his attention, that he might change them back to men.

But Wur-Run-Nah never heeded them as he went up the stone steps cut in the Sacred Mountain for the coming of Byamee to Earth.

Tired of flying, the Swans stayed on a small lagoon at the foot of the Mountain.

As the Eagle Hawks—the messengers of the Spirits—were flying, to deliver a Spirit’s message, they saw in their own lagoon, two strange white birds.

In their rage they swooped down, drove their huge claws and sharp beaks into the poor white Swans.

They then clutched them up with their claws, and flew far from the Sacred Mountain, over plains, and over mountain ranges away to the south.

Every now and then, in savage rage, they stopped to pluck out a beakful of feathers.

Looking as white as the ash of Gidya wood, these feathers fluttered down the sides of the mountains, lodging in between the rocks.

On flew the Eagle Hawks with their victims, until they came to a large lagoon near to the Big Salt Water. At one end of the lagoon were rocks; on these they dropped the Swans, then swooped down themselves and savagely plucked out the few feathers the poor birds had left.

But just as they were tearing at the last, left on the wings, they remembered they had never delivered the Spirit’s message. Fearing the anger of the Spirits, they left the Swans and flew back to their own country.

The poor brothers crouched together, almost featherless, bleeding, cold, and miserable. They felt they were dying, dying away from their Tribe in a strange country. Suddenly, softly fell on them a shower of feathers which covered their shivering bodies. Gaining warmth, the brothers looked about them.


High on the trees overhead they saw hundreds of Crows, the Mountain Crows which they had sometimes seen on the Plains Country, and had been taught to think of them as a warning of evil. Seeing them look up, the Crows called to them.

“The Eagle Hawks are our enemies, too. We saw you left to die, and we said it should not be so. On the breeze we sent some of our feathers to warm you, and make you strong to fly back to your friends, and laugh at the Eagle Hawks.” The black feathers covered the Swans all but on their wings, where a few white ones had been left; also the down under the black feathers was white down.

The red blood on their beaks stayed there for ever.

The white feathers that the Eagle Hawks had picked out across the mountains took root where they fell, and sprang up again as flowers, so soft that they are called “Flannel Flowers”, and from the drops of blood between the rocks grew the white-tipped red Epacris.


The brothers flew back to their own country over the Camp of their Tribe.

Wur-Run-Nah heard their cry of “Biboh! Biboh!” and knew it was the voice of his brothers, though looking up he saw not white birds, but black with red bills; for black have the Swans been ever since the Crows dressed them with their own feathers.

Sorrowful as he was at their sad cry, Wur-Run-Nah had no power to change them back to men. His powers as a Wizard had been taken from him for his daring to go, before his time, to Byamee’s Sky Camp.

He was sent back to warn his Tribe that truly evil came to a man who left his Tauri, and greatest evil of all to such an one who, only to make him boastful of his power, dared to climb the Sacred Mountain.


Happily Wur-Run-Nah to the end of his days loved talking of the wonders he had seen, and still more loved feasting. His Tauri was a land of plenty; his wives as wives should be, good listeners. Had it not been so, with his power as a Wizard gone, in sorrow would have ended Wur-Run-Nah’s Walkabouts.


Wholly set up and printed in Australia


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