The Dreaming

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The Travels of the Kangaroo and the Euro

Kangaroo Rock Art

The route of the travels of the mythical creatures, Kangaroo and Euro, covers approximately 220km of Central Australian desert, passing through the hunting territory of many Aboriginal groups, each of which knew sections of the myth. Along their journeys, numerous natural features mark their adventures.

This story concerns the revenge of the Kangaroo and Euro on the Ninjuri Lizard-men who had killed Nintaka the Blue-tongue Lizard. The Willy Wagtail woman, a relative of Nintaka, grieving over his death, cut off her hair and gave it to Kangaroo and Euro to make hair-belts for themselves. The acceptance of the gift of her hair placed Kangaroo and Euro in her debt and they therefore pledged to revenge the death of Nintaka.

The myth tells of the pursuit of the Ninjuri Lizard Men by Kangaroo and Euro, and their gradual destruction. Stopping at many places over the long route, the Kangaroo and Euro enticed the Lizard-men into caves and then jumped on the cave roofs—causing them to collapse on those inside. Small springs, rocks, trees and caves mark the long journey. The body of Euro is seen in the watermarks on a cave wall, a rock crevice was created by the force of a spear, and a tree is the metamorphosed body of the Ancestor.

Amongst the Pintubi and Anmatjera to the north of Central Australia, Ancestral Dreaming routes are remembered by the men as they carry out commemorative ceremonies at stopping points along the journeys.

The ground is smoothed at the site of the ritual and elaborate patterns of lines and circles are constructed from bird down, clay and ochre, which reproduce in symbolic form the paths and journeys of the Ancestors. The story of the blue-tongue lizard man is one of numerous Dreaming tracks which is remembered in songs and paintings by the Pintubi-Anmatjera people today.

The Blue-Tongue Lizard-man and the Fire

In the Dreamtime, Lungkata (Jangala) the Blue-tongue Llizard Man travelled through the country, carrying a firestick. His two sons followed behind, and although they had enjoyed a meal of kangaroo the previous day, they were now hungry again.

Because the sons had not looked after Lungkata’s appetite, Lungkata decided to light a fire. He touched his fire stick to a bush—and it exploded into flames! The flames licked out—flicking as the tongue of the blue-tongue, and soon clumps of grass and bushes were ablaze in every direction.

The two sons broke branches from trees and beat at the flames. When the fire appeared to be extinguished, the two sons lay down to rest, only to wake and find that it had rekindled. This same thing happened many times, and the fire still continued to lick through the grass, exploding from bush to bush and driving them further and further south.

Eventually, the exhausted sons were pushed some 150km to the south and perished in the desert at the site called Jambijimba-jarra, where the fire burnt itself out.

Dinny Nolan Jambijimba, Anmatjera tribe


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