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The Mayamah

The men had all left their camp and gone away to attend a borah (a large gathering of men where the boys are initiated into the mysteries which make them young men).

Nothing was left in the camp but one very old dog, too old to travel. After the men had been gone about three days, one night came their enemies, the Gooeeays (warriors), intending to surprise them and kill them.

Painted in all the glory of their war paint came the Gooeeays, their hair tied in top knots and ornamented with feathers and kangaroos' teeth. Their waywahs (worn by men, consisting of a waistband made of opossum's sinews with bunches of strips of paddymelon skins hanging from it) of paddymelon, and kangaroo rat skins cut in strips, round their waists, were new and strong, holding firmly some of their boomerangs and woggoorahs, which they had stuck through them.


Prepared as they were for conquest, the Gooeeays found only a deserted camp containing nothing but one old dog. The Gooeeays asked the old dog where the men were gone, but the old dog only shook his head. Again and again the Gooeeays asked the old dog, and again and again the old dog only shook his head.

At last some of the Gooeeays raised their spears and their moorillahs or nullah-nullahs, saying, "If you do not tell us where the men have gone, we shall kill you."

The old dog said, "Gone to the borah."


As the old dog spoke every one of the Gooeeays and everything that they had with them was turned to stone. Even the waywahs round their waists, the top knots on their heads, and the spears in their hands, turned to stone.

When the men returned to their camp when the borah was over, and the boys, who had been made young men, had gone out into the bush to undergo their novitiate, each with his solitary guardian, they saw the their enemies, the Gooeeays, standing round their old camp, as if to attack the camp.

However, instead of being men of flesh, they were men of stone. Their weapons, their waywahs, and all that belonged to them, was stone.


At that place are to be found stones or mayamahs of great beauty, striped and marked and coloured as were the men painted.

The place of the mayamah is on one of the mounts near Beemery.


Collected in 1897 by Mrs. K. Langloh Parker.