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Goomblegubbon, Beeargah, and Ouyan

Goomblegubbon the bustard, his two wives, Beeargah the hawk, and Ouyan the curlew, with the two children of Beeargah, had their camps in the bush, their only water supply was a small dungle (water hole), or gilguy hole. The wives and children camped in one camp, and Goomblegubbon camped a short distance off in another camp.

One day Beeargah and Ouyan asked Goomblegubbon to lend them the dayoorl stone (a large flat stone for grinding grass seed upon), that they might grind some doonburr (a grass seed) to make durrie (bread made from grass seed).

Goomblegubbon would not lend the dayoorl stone to Beeargah and Ouyan, even though they asked him several times. Beeargah and Ouyan knew that Goomblegubbon did not want to use the dayoorl stone himself, because they saw his durrie on a piece of bark, between two fires, already cooking.


Beeargah and Ouyan who were determined to be revenged said, "We will make some water bags of the opossum skins; we will fill them with water, then some day when Goomblegubbon is out hunting we will empty the dungle (water hole) of water, take the children, and run away. When Goomblegubbon returns he will find his wives and children gone and the dungle empty, he will be sorry that he would not lend us the dayoorl."

Beeargah and Ouyan soon caught some opossums, killed and skinned them, plucked all the hair from the skins, saving it to roll into string to make goomillahs (young girl's dress, consisting of waist strings made of opossum's sinews with strands of woven opossum's hair, hanging about a foot square in front), cleaned the skins of all flesh, sewed them up with the sinews, leaving only the neck opening. When finished, they blew into them, filled them with air, tied them up and left them to dry for a few days. When they were dry and ready to be used, Beeargah and Ouyan chose a day when Goomblegubbon was away, filled the water bags, emptied the dungle, and started towards the river.

Having travelled for some time, Beeargah and Ouyan at length reached the river. Beeargah and Ouyan saw two men on the other side, who when they saw the runaway wives and the two children, swam over to Beeargah and Ouyan and asked where they had come from and where they were going.


"We are running away from our husband Goomblegubbon, who would not lend us a dayoorl to grind our doonburr on, and we ran away lest we and our children should starve, because we could not live on meat alone. We do not know where we are going, except that it must be far away, lest Goomblegubbon follow and kill us."

The men said that they wanted wives, and would each take one, and both care for the children. The women agreed. The men swam back across the river, each taking a child first, and then a woman, because they came from the back country, where there were no creeks, the women could not swim.

Goomblegubbon came back from hunting, and not seeing his wives, he called aloud for Beeargah and Ouyan, but heard no answer. Goomblegubbon went to Beeargah and Ouyan's camp, but did not find them.


Turning towards the dungle, Goomblegubbon saw that it was empty. Goomblegubbon saw the tracks of his wives and children going towards the river. Great was his anger, and vowing he would kill them when he found them, Goomblegubbon picked up his spears and followed their tracks, until he too reached the river.

There on the other side of the river, Goomblegubbon saw a camp, and in the camp Goomblegubbon could see strange men, his wives, and his children.

Goomblegubbon called aloud for Beeargah and Ouyan to cross him over, because Goomblegubbon could not swim either, but the sun went down and Beeargah and Ouyan did not answer. Goomblegubbon camped where he was that night, and in the morning Goomblegubbon saw the camp opposite had been deserted and set fire to.


The country all round was burnt so that not even the tracks of the men and Goomblegubbon's wives could be found, even if Goomblegubbon had been able to cross the river.

Goomblegubbon did not see or hear of his wives or his children, ever again.


Collected in 1897 by Mrs. K. Langloh Parker.