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Narahdarn The Bat

Narahdarn the bat, wanted honey. Narahdarn watched until he saw a Wurranunnah (bee), alight. Narahdarn caught the Wurranunnah, stuck a white feather between its hind legs, let it go and followed it.

Narahdarn knew that he could see the white feather, and follow the bee to its nest. Narahdarn ordered his two wives, of the Bilber (a large kind of rat) tribe, to follow him with wirrees (small piece of canoe shaped bark) to carry home the honey in.

Night came on and Wurranunnah the bee had not reached home. Narahdarn caught him, imprisoned him under bark, and kept him safely there until next morning. When it was light enough to see, Narahdarn let the bee go again, and followed him to his nest, in a gunnyanny tree.

Marking the tree with his comebo (stone tomahawk) that he might know it again, he returned to hurry on his wives who were some way behind. Narahdarn wanted his wives to come on, climb the tree, and chop out the honey. When his wives reached the marked tree one of the women climbed up.


She called out to Narahdarn that the honey was in a split in the tree. Narahdarn called back to her to put her hand in and get it out. She put her arm in, but found she could not get her hand out again. Narahdarn climbed up to help her, but found when he reached her that the only way to free her was to cut off her arm.

Narahdarn cut off her arm before she had time to realise what he was going to do, and protest. So great was the shock to her that she died instantly. Narahdarn carried down her lifeless body and commanded her sister, his other wife, to go up, chop out the arm, and get the honey. She protested, declaring the bees would have taken the honey away by now.

"Not so" Narahdarn said, "go at once."

She made every excuse she could think of to save herself, but her excuses were in vain, and Narahdarn only became furious with her for making them and, brandishing his boondi, drove her up the tree.


She managed to get her arm in beside her sister's, but there it stuck and she could not move her arm. Narahdarn, who was watching her, saw what had happened and followed her up the tree. Finding he could not pull her arm out, in spite of her cries, he chopped her arm off, as he had done her sister's.

After one shriek, as Narahdarn drove his comebo through her arm, she was silent. Narahdarn said, "Come down, and I will chop out the bees' nest."

She did not answer him, and Narahdarn saw that she too was dead. Narahdarn was frightened, and climbed quickly down the gunnyanny tree, taking her body to the ground with him, he laid it beside her sister's body, and quickly hurried from the spot, taking no further thought of the honey.

As Narahdarn neared his camp, two little sisters of his wives ran out to meet him, thinking their sisters would be with him, and that they would give them a taste of the honey they knew they had gone out to get.


To their surprise Narahdarn came alone, and as he drew near to them they saw his arms were covered with blood. And his face had a fierce look on it, which frightened them from even asking where their sisters were. They ran and told their mother that Narahdarn had returned alone, that he looked fierce and angry, also his arms were covered with blood.

The mother of the Bilbers said, "Where are my daughters, Narahdarn? They went forth this morning to bring home the honey you found. You come back alone. You bring no honey. Your look is fierce, as of one who fights, and your arms are covered with blood. Tell me where are my daughters?"

"Ask me not, Bilber. Ask Wurranunnah the bee, he may know. Narahdarn the bat knows nothing." Narahdarn wrapped himself in a silence which no questioning could pierce.

Leaving him there, before his camp, the mother of the Bilbers returned to her dardurr (bark humpy or shed) and told her tribe that her daughters were gone, and Narahdarn, their husband, would tell her nothing of them, but she felt sure that he knew their fate, and she was certain that he had some tale to tell, because his arms were covered with blood.


The chief of her tribe listened to her. When she had finished, she begun to wail for her daughters, whom she thought she would see no more.

The chief said, "Mother of the Bilbers, your daughters shall be avenged if anything has happened to them at the hands of Narahdarn. His tracks are fresh, and the young men of your tribe shall follow the tracks, and find what Narahdarn has done, and swiftly shall they return. Then we shall hold a corrobboree (aboriginal men's gathering and dance), and if your daughters fell at his hand, Narahdarn shall be punished."

The mother of the Bilbers said, "Well have you spoken, oh my relation. Now speed ye the young men lest the rain fall or the dust blow and the tracks be lost."


The fleetest footed and the keenest eyed of the young men of the tribe went forth. Before long, they came back to the camp with the news of the fate of the Bilbers.

The corrobboree was held that night. The women sat round in a half circle, and chanted a monotonous chant, some of the women kept time by hitting two boomerangs (a curved weapon used in hunting and in warfare) together, while others beat their rolled up opossum rugs.

Big fires were lit on the edge of the scrub, throwing light on the dancers as they came dancing out from their camps, painted in all manner of designs, waywahs (worn by men, consisting of a waistband made of opossum's sinews with bunches of strips of paddymelon skins hanging from it) round their waists, tufts of feathers in their hair, and carrying painted wands in their hands.

Heading the procession as the men filed out from the scrub into a cleared space in front of the women, came Narahdarn. The light of the fires lit up the tree tops, the dark balahs showed out in fantastic shapes.

The scene was indeed weird as the men slowly danced round, the boomerangs clicked louder and the chanting of the women grew louder, the fires were piled higher, until the flames shot their coloured tongues round the trunks of the trees, and high into the air.


One fire was bigger than the others, and the dancers edged Narahdarn towards the biggest fire. The voice of the mother of the Bilbers shrieked in the chanting, high above the voices of the other women.

As Narahdarn turned from the fire to dance back he found a wall of men confronting him. The men quickly seized Narahdarn and hurled him into the madly leaping fire before him, where Narahdarn perished in the flames, and so were the Bilbers avenged.


Collected in 1897 by Mrs. K. Langloh Parker.