Monday, 8 August 2011

The Great Flood

Now there was a tribe or family connected to the reptiles that had the knowledge of rain-making. Their totem was the elements - lightning, thunder, rain, hail, and wind. These people were becoming important. They resolved that they would not consult anyone, but would act as they pleased. They were known as the frilled lizard family.

They sent representatives to various part of the country with instructions that on the days and evenings of the week preceding the new moon every lizard was to begin singing the storm song. They were to cut the body and cause blood to flow, and then smear the body with fat and red ochre and daub the face with pipe-clay. They were to chant the prayer song, pleading that the Great Spirit grant the following humble request: "Come, O lightning; come, O thunder and wind; come with all your force and destroy the platypus tribe. They have become too numerous."

They repeatedly sang their song until the last few days before the appearance of the new moon.

Great black clouds began to mantle the clear sky, and out of the clouds the lightning flashed and rent the sky and earth. The thunder roared in reply to the angry lightning-flashes. The winds came hurrying and tearing the limbs from the huge, towering gum-trees, uprooting smaller trees and shrubs, and driving rain and hail into every hiding place.

When the birds saw what was coming they took wing, mounting upon the wind, and soaring up and up. Animals struggled hither and thither in the blinding storm, seeking shelter, travelling up and up, dodging behind rocks and boulders on the mountain sides until they reached the summits where they sought safety.

It rained and rained. The valleys and the low-lying country were deluged. Nearly all life was destroyed in the Great Flood.

But the cunning frilled lizards, while their medicine men were singing the storm song, had sought the mountain tops, and there had built homes to protect themselves against the storm.

When the storm ceased and the flood abated the survivors from the kangaroo, wombat, opossum, and koala tribes ran down the mountain-sides into the valleys, visiting water-holes, billabongs, creeks, and rivers. An awful and distressing sight met their gaze. Upon the broken branches of the gum-trees and among the rocks on the hillsides and in the valleys, were dead and mangled bodies of the platypus tribe.

After three years had passed the birds returned. Some came to live on the lakes and rivers. Others in the desert and the forest.

After the Great Flood there was called a conference of the tribes. The tribes journeyed to the Blue Mountain where there was created a huge camping ground. It was there agreed that no-one would speak out of turn and that no reflections would be made against any tribe or person.

This account of The Great Flood adapted from William Ramsey Smith's Aborigine Myths and Legends pub. 1930.

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