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Bougoodoogahdah The Rain Bird

Bougoodoogahdah was an old woman who lived alone with her four hundred dingoes (native dogs). From living so long with these dogs she had grown not to care for her fellow creatures except as food. She and the dogs lived on human flesh, and it was her cunning which gained such food for them all.

She would sally forth from her camp with her two little dogs; she would be sure to meet some men, probably twenty or thirty, going down to the creek. She would say, "I can tell you where there are lots of paddy melons."

The men would ask where, and Bougoodoogahdah would answer, "Over there, on the point of that moorillah (pebbly ridge). If you will go there and have your nullahs (a club or heavy-headed weapon) ready, I will go with my two dogs and round them up towards you."


The men invariably stationed themselves where Bougoodoogahdah had told them, and off went Bougoodoogahdah and her two dogs. But not to round up the paddy melons. She went quickly towards her camp, calling softly, "Birree, gougou" which meant "Sool 'em, sool 'em" and was the signal for the dogs to come out.

Quickly the dogs came and surrounded the men, took them by surprise, flew at them, bit and worried them to death. Then the dogs and Bougoodoogahdah dragged the bodies to their camp. There they were cooked and were food for the old woman and the dogs for some time. As soon as the supply was finished the same plan to obtain more was repeated.

The men missed so many of their friends that they determined to find out what had become of them. The men began to suspect the old woman who lived alone and hunted over the moorillahs with her two little dogs. The men proposed that the next party that went to the creek should divide and some stay behind in hiding and watch what went on.


The men watching saw Bougoodoogahdah advance towards their friends, talk to them for a while, and then go off with her two dogs. The men saw their friends station themselves at the point of the moorillah or ridge, holding their nullahs in readiness, as if waiting for something to come.

Presently they heard a low cry from Bougoodoogahdah of "Birree gougou" which cry was quickly followed by dingoes coming out of the bush in every direction, in hundreds, surrounding the men at the point.

The dingoes closed in, quickly hemming the men in all round; then they made a simultaneous rush at them, tore them with their teeth, and killed them.


The men watching, saw that when the dogs had killed their friends they were joined Bougoodoogahdah, who helped them to drag the bodies off to their camp.

Having seen all this, the watchers went back to their tribe and told what they had seen. All the tribes round mustered up and decided to execute a swift vengeance. In order to do so, out they sallied well armed. A detachment went to entrap the dogs and Bougoodoogahdah.

Then just when the usual massacre of the men was to begin and the dogs were closing in round them for the purpose, out rushed over two hundred men, and so effectual was their attack that every dog was killed, as well as Bougoodoogahdah and her two little dogs.


Bougoodoogahdah lay where she had been slain, but as the men went away they heard her cry "Bougoodoogahdah". So back they went and broke her bones, first they broke her legs and then left her, but again as they went they heard her cry "Bougoodoogahdah".

Then back again they came, and again, until at last every bone in Bougoodoogahdah's body was broken, but still she cried "Bougoodoogahdah". So one man waited beside her to see whence came the sound, for surely, they thought, Bougoodoogahdah must be dead. He saw her heart move and cry again "Bougoodoogahdah" and as it cried, out came a little bird from it.

The little bird runs on the moorillahs and calls at night "Bougoodoogahdah". All day it stays in one place, and only at night comes out.


It is a little greyish bird, something like a weedah (bower or mocking-bird). The men call it a rain-maker, for if any one steals its eggs it cries out incessantly "Bougoodoogahdah" until in answer to its call the rain falls.

When the country is stricken with a drought, the men look for one of these little birds, and finding it, chase it, until it cries aloud "Bougoodoogahdah, Bougoodoogahdah" and when they hear its cry in the daytime they know the rain will soon fall.

As the little bird flew from the heart of the woman, all the dead dingoes were changed into snakes, many different kinds, all poisonous. The two little dogs were changed into dayah minyah, a very small kind of carpet snake, non-poisonous, for these two little dogs had never bitten the men as the other dogs had done.

At the points of the Moorillahs where Bougoodoogahdah and her dingoes used to slay the men, are heaps of white stones, which are supposed to be the fossilised bones of the massacred men.

  Collected in 1897 by Mrs. K. Langloh Parker.