The Cookooburrahs And The Goolahgool

: Australian Legendary Tales

Googarh, the iguana, was married to Moodai, the opossum and

Cookooburrah, the laughing jackass. Cookooburrah was the mother of

three sons, one grown up and living away from her, the other two only

little boys. They had their camps near a goolahgool, whence they

obtained water. A goolahgool is a water-holding tree, of the iron bark

or box species. It is a tree with a split in the fork of it, and hollow

below the fork. A
ter heavy rain, this hollow trunk would be full of

water, which water would have run into it through the split in the

fork. A goolahgool would hold water for a long time. The blacks knew a

goolahgool, amongst other trees, by the mark which the overflow of

water made down the trunk of the tree, discolouring the bark.

One day, Googarh, the iguana, and his two wives went out hunting,

leaving the two little Cookooburrahs at the camp. They had taken out

water for themselves in their opossum skin water bags, but they had

left none for the children, who were too small to get any from the

goolahgool for themselves, so nearly perished from thirst. Their

tongues were swollen in their mouths, and they were quite speechless,

when they saw a man coming towards them. When he came near, they saw it

was Cookooburrah, their big brother. They could not speak to him and

answer, when he asked where his mother was. Then he asked them what was

the matter. All they could do was to point towards the tree. He looked

at it, and saw it was a goolahgool, so he said: "Did your mother leave

you no water?" They shook their heads. He said: "Then you are perishing

for want of a drink, my brothers?" They nodded. "Go," he said "a little

way off, and you shall see how I will punish them for leaving my little

brothers to perish of thirst." He went towards the tree, climbed up it,

and split it right down. As he did so, out gushed the water in a

swiftly running stream. Soon the little fellows quenched their thirst

and then, in their joy, bathed in the water, which grew in volume every


In the meantime, those who had gone forth to hunt were returning, and

as they came towards their camp they met a running stream of water.

"What is this?" they said, "our goolahgool must have burst," and they

tried to dam the water, but it was running too strongly for them. They

gave up the effort and hurried on towards their camp. But they found a

deep stream divided them from their camp. The three Cookooburrahs saw

them, and the eldest one said to the little fellows: "You call out and

tell them to cross down there, where it is not deep." The little ones

called out as they were told, and where they pointed Googarh and his

wives waded into the stream. Finding she was getting out of her depth,

Cookooburrah the laughing jackass cried out: "Goug gour gah gah. Goug

gour gah gah. Give ine a stick. Give me a stick."

But from the bank her sons only answered in derision: "Goug gour gah

gah. Goug gour gah gah." And the three hunters were soon engulfed in

the rushing stream, drawn down by the current and drowned.