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The Weeoonibeens and the Piggiebillah

Two Weeoombeen (a small bird with a longish tail) brothers went out hunting. One brother was much younger and smaller than the other. When they sighted an emu, the elder brother said to the younger brother, "You stay quietly here and do not make a noise, or Piggiebillah (Echidna, a marsupial ant-eater), whose camp we passed just now, will hear you and steal the emu if I kill it.

I will try to kill the emu with this stone. "The little Weeoombeen watched his big brother sneak up to the emu, crawling along, almost flat, on the ground. He saw him get quite close to the emu, then spring up quickly and throw the stone with such an accurate aim as to kill the bird on the spot. The little brother was so rejoiced that he forgot his brother's caution, and he called aloud in his joy. The big Weeoombeen looked round and gave him a warning sign, but too late, Piggiebillah had heard the cry and was hastening towards them. Quickly big Weeoombeen left the emu and joined his little brother.

Piggiebillah said, "What have you found?"

"Nothing" said the big Weeoombeen, "nothing but some mistletoe berries."

Piggiebillah said, "It must have been something more than that, or your little brother would not have called out so loudly."


Little Weeoombeen was so afraid that Piggiebillah would find their emu and take it, that he said: "I hit a little bird with a stone, and I was glad I could throw so straight."

Piggiebillah said, "It was no cry for the killing of a little bird, or for the finding of mistletoe berries that I heard. It was for something much more than either, or you would not have called out so joyfully. If you do not tell me at once I will kill you both."

The Weeoombeen brothers were frightened, because Piggiebillah was a great fighter and very strong. When they saw that Piggiebillah was really angry, they showed him the dead emu.

"Just what I want for my supper" Piggiebillah said and dragged the dead emu away to his own camp. The Weeoombeens followed Piggiebillah, and even helped Piggiebillah to make a fire to cook the emu, hoping to get a share of the emu. However, Piggiebillah would not give them any; Piggiebillah said that he must have the emu all for himself.

Angry and disappointed, the Weeoombeens marched straight off and told some men who lived near, that Piggiebillah had a fine fat emu just cooked for supper.


Up jumped the men, who seized their spears, and asked the Weeoombeens to quickly lead them to Piggiebillah's camp, promising them a share of the emu.

When the men were within range of spear shot, the men formed a circle, took aim and threw their spears at Piggiebillah. As the spears fell thick on Piggiebillah, sticking out all over him, Piggiebillah cried aloud: "Bingehlah, Bingeblah. You can have it, you can have it." However, the men did not desist until, Piggiebillah was too wounded even to cry out. The men left Piggiebillah a mass of spears and turned to look for the emu. To their surprise the men did not find the emu, for the first time they realised that the Weeoombeens were gone as well.

Looking around the men saw the Weeoombeens tracks going to where the emu had evidently been; and the men saw that the Weeoombeens had dragged the emu to their nyunnoo, which was a humpy made of grass.

When the Weeoombeens saw the men coming, the Weeoombeens caught hold of the emu and dragged it to a big hole which they knew of, with a big stone that only they knew the secret of moving, at its entrance. The Weeoombeens moved the stone, got the emu and themselves into the hole, and the stone in place again before the men reached the place.

The men tried to move the stone, but could not. However, the men knew that the Weeoombeens must have move the stone, because the men had tracked the Weeoombeens right up to the stone, and the men could hear the sound of the Weeoombeens voices on the other side of the stone.


The men saw that there was a crevice on either side of the stone, between the stone and the ground. Through these crevices the men, drove in their spears, thinking they must surely kill the brothers. However, the Weeoombeens had seen these crevices too and the Weeoombeens had anticipated the spears, so the Weeoombeens had placed the dead emu in front of them to act as a shield. The spears of the men were driven into the dead emu's body.

Having driven the spears well in, the men went off to get help to move the stone, but when the men had gone a little way, they heard the Weeoombeens laughing. The men came back and speared again, before starting of for help once more, but as the men left they heard the laughter of the brothers.

Finding that their laughter only brought back the men for a fresh attack, the Weeoombeens determined to keep quiet, which, after the next spearing, they did.

When they heard their spear shots followed by neither conversation nor laughter, the men were quite sure that they had killed the Weeoombeens at last, and the men hurried away to bring back the strength and cunning of the camp, to remove the stone.


The Weeoombeens hurriedly discussed which plan they should adopt to elude the men, because the Weeoombeens knew that should they ever meet any of the men again they would be killed without mercy. As the Weeoombeens talked they satisfied their hunger by eating some of the emu flesh.

After a while the men returned, and soon was the stone removed from the entrance. Some of the men crept into the hole, where, to their surprise, they found only the remains of the emu, and no trace of the Weeoombeens.

As those who had gone in first crept out and told of the disappearance of the Weeoombeens, others, incredulous of such a story, crept in to find no trace of the Weeoombeens. The men searched round for tracks; seeing that their spears were all in the emu it seemed to them probable the Weeoombeens had escaped alive, but if so the Weeoombeen's tracks would show the men where the Weeoombeens.

Search as they would the men could find no tracks. All that the men could see were two little birds which sat on a bush near the hole, watching the men all the time. The little birds flew round the hole sometimes, but never away, always returning to their bush and seeming to be discussing the whole affair; but the men could not understand what they said.


As time went on and no sign was ever found of the Weeoombeens, the men became sure that the brothers had turned into the little white-throated birds that had sat on the bush by the hole, to escape their vengeance. Ever afterwards the little white throats were called Weeoombeens, and the memory of Piggiebillah is perpetuated by the Echidna, which bears his name, and whose skin is covered closely with miniature spears sticking all over it.


Collected in 1897 by Mrs. K. Langloh Parker.