The Dreaming

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Jayawah's Lesson

The people travelled for several days to reach the billabong. They did this each year in preparation for the cold months. It was a good place to camp because they knew that several animals watered there. Unfortunately, so did Kurria the giant crocodile that had taken residence in the billabong.

The warriors made several attempts to kill the crocodile, but Kurria was too wary and remained on the bottom. So the men decided to chase the animals away from the billabong until Kurria realised there was no food there. That way he would soon leave, allowing the people to continue as before.

However, there were those who couldn't resist their curiosity and often ignored the advice of the elders in order to study the monster. This encouraged the children to do likewise, and only warnings and threats of severe consequences from their parents discouraged them. That is, except for a pair of twins who were always getting into trouble. The boy and girl were approaching their teens, so should have known better, but, as usual, they took it upon themselves to disobey their parents and often visited the billabong.

So regular were their visits, that Kurria, ever patient and knowing their habits waited just below the surface until they were close enough for him to grab one of them. However, the children were bush wise and never strayed too close to the water.

Eventually, Kurria, who was by now quite hungry, decided to seek another billabong and crept away during the night.

The children were not to know this, and again went to the billabong. It was then that Jayawah, a water spirit, decided that the children needed to be taught a lesson for disobeying their elders, so he took the form of the crocodile and slowly rose to the surface. The twins made an attempt to flee, but were unable to move—as Jayawah had intended—and then he leapt from the water and swallowed them.

Jayawah kept them in his belly until they had grown quite old. When he released them and allowed them to return to their people, they found their parents and uncles had long since died, and all that remained were strangers who drove them from the camp to live alone.

The twins spent the rest of their lives teaching children respect and the importance of obeying their parents. They continued to do this until they too went to their Dreaming.

Burramadagal clan of the Dharrug tribe

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