The Great Myths #3: A Kakadu Creation (Australian)

Wuraka came from the west, walking through the sea. His feet were on the bottom but he was so tall that his head was well above the surface of the water. He landed at a place called Allukaladi, between what are now known as Mts. Bidwell and Roe, both of which he made. His first sleeping place, after coming out on to land, was at Woralia. He then came on to Umurunguk and so to Adjerakuk and Aruwurkwain, at each of which he slept one night.

The woman, Imberombera, also walked through the sea and landed at what is now known as Malay Bay, the native name being Wungaran. She met Wuraka at Arakwurkwain. Imberombera said to him, “Where are you going?” He said, “I am going straight through the bush to the rising sun.” The first language they spoke was Iwaidja, that is, the language of the people of Port Essington. Wuraka carried his penis, or parla, over his shoulder. He said to Imberombera, ngainma parla nungeroboama, my penis is too heavy; ngainma wilalu jirongadda, my camp is close by; ngeinyimma ngoro breikul, you go a long way.

At that time there were no black-fellows. Imberombera wanted Wuraka to come with her, but he was too tired and his penis was too heavy, so he sat down where he was, and a great rock, called by the natives Wuraka, and by the white men Tor Rock, arose to mark the spot, Imberombera had a huge stomach in which she carried many children, and on her head she wore a bamboo ring from which hung down numbers of dilly bags full of yams. She also carried a very large stick or wairbi.

At a place called Marpur, close to where she and Wuraka met, she left boy and girl spirit children and told them to speak Iwaidja. She also planted many yams there and said to the children whom she left behind, mungatidda jam, these are good to eat.

She went on to Muruni, leaving yams and spirit children, and told them also to speak Iwaidja. From Muruni she went on, by way of Kumara, to Areidjut, close to Mamul, on what is now called Cooper’s Creek, which runs into the sea to the north of the mouth of the East Alligator River. At Mamul she left children, one boy being called Kominuuru, and told them to speak the Umoriu language. The only food supply she left here was Murarowa—a Cyprus bulb. She crossed the creek and went on to Yiralka but left no children there. This was close to the East Alligator River which she crossed and then came, in succession, to Jeri, Kumboyu, Munguruburaira and Uramaijino, where she opened up her dilly bags and scattered yams broadcast. She went on to Jaiyipali, where again she left food supplies. She searched around for a good camping place and, first of all, sat down in a water pool but the leeches came in numbers and fastened themselves on her, so she came out of the water and decided to camp on dry land, saying that she would go into the bush. Accordingly, she did so and camped at Inbinjairi. Here she threw the seeds of the bamboo, Koulu, in all directions and also left children, one of whom was a boy named Kalangeit Nuana.

As she travelled along, Imberombera sent out various spirit children to different parts of the country, telling them to speak different languages. She sent them to ten places, in each case instructing them as follows:

Gnaruk ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoyo Koranger.
Watta ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Kurnboyu.
Kakadu ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Munganillida.
Witji ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Miortu.
Puneitja ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Jaijipali.
Koarnbut ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Kapalgo.
Ngornbur ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Illari.
Umbugwalur ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Owe.
Djowei ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Nauillanja.
Geimbio ngeinyimma tjikaru, gnoro Waimbi.

The first word in each of these is the name of language which the children were to speak; ngeinyimma means you or yours; tjikaru is talk or language; gnoro is go, and the last word is the name of the place to which she sent them. Each of these places is regarded as the central camping ground of their respective tribes.

– “Imberombera and Wuraka,” from Baldwin Spencer, The Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia, 276-278; also in Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World, edited by Barbara Sproul, 323-325

Read the other Great Myths here