The Origin Of The Narran Lake

: Australian Legendary Tales

Old Byamee said to his two young wives, Birrahgnooloo and

Cunnunbeillee, "I have stuck a white feather between the hind legs of a

bee, and am going to let it go and then follow it to its nest, that I

may get honey. While I go for the honey, go you two out and get frogs

and yams, then meet me at Coorigel Spring, where we will camp, for

sweet and clear is the water there." The wives, taking their goolays

and yam sticks,
ent out as he told them. Having gone far, and dug out

many yams and frogs, they were tired when they reached Coorigel, and,

seeing the cool, fresh water, they longed to bathe. But first they

built a bough shade, and there left their goolays holding their food,

and the yams and frogs they had found. When their camp was ready for

the coming of Byamee, who having wooed his wives with a nullah-nullah,

kept them obedient by fear of the same weapon, then went the girls to

the spring to bathe. Gladly they plunged in, having first divested them

selves of their goomillahs, which they were still young enough to wear,

and which they left on the ground near the spring. Scarcely were they

enjoying the cool rest the water gave their hot, tired limbs, when they

were seized and swallowed by two kurreahs. Having swallowed the girls,

the kurreahs dived into an opening in the side of the spring, which was

the entrance to an underground watercourse leading to the Narran River.

Through this passage they went, taking all the water from the spring

with them into the Narran, whose course they also dried as they went


Meantime Byamee, unwitting the fate of his wives, was honey hunting. He

had followed the bee with the white feather on it for some distance;

then the bee flew on to some budtha flowers, and would move no further.

Byamee said, "Something has happened, or the bee would not stay here

and refuse to be moved on towards its nest. I must go to Coorigel

Spring and see if my wives are safe. Something terrible has surely

happened." And Byamee turned in haste towards the spring. When he

reached there he saw the bough shed his wives had made, he saw the yams

they had dug from the ground, and he saw the frogs, but Birrahgnooloo

and Cunnunbeillee he saw not. He called aloud for them. But no answer.

He went towards the spring; on the edge of it he saw the goomillahs of

his wives. He looked into the spring and, seeing it dry, he said, "It

is the work of the kurreahs; they have opened the underground passage

and gone with my wives to the river, and opening the passage has dried

the spring. Well do I know where the passage joins the Narran, and

there will I swiftly go." Arming himself with spears and woggarahs he

started in pursuit. He soon reached the deep hole where the underground

channel of the Coorigel joined the Narran. There he saw what he had

never seen before, namely, this deep hole dry. And he said: "They have

emptied the holes as they went along, taking the water with them. But

well know I the deep holes of the river. I will not follow the bend,

thus trebling the distance I have to go, but I will cut across from big

hole to big hole, and by so doing I may yet get ahead of the kurreahs."

On swiftly sped Byamee, making short cuts from big hole to big hole,

and his track is still marked by the morilla ridges that stretch down

the Narran, pointing in towards the deep holes. Every hole as he came

to it he found dry, until at last he reached the end of the Narran; the

hole there was still quite wet and muddy, then he knew he was near his

enemies, and soon he saw them. He managed to get, unseen, a little way

ahead of the kurreahs. He hid himself behind a big dheal tree. As the

kurreahs came near they separated, one turning to go in another

direction. Quickly Byamee hurled one spear after another, wounding both

kurreahs, who writhed with pain and lashed their tails furiously,

making great hollows in the ground, which the water they had brought

with them quickly filled. Thinking they might again escape him, Byamee

drove them from the water with his spears, and then, at close quarters,

he killed them with his woggarahs. And ever afterwards at flood time,

the Narran flowed into this hollow which the kurreahs in their

writhings had made.

When Byamee saw that the kurreahs were quite dead, he cut them open and

took out the bodies of his wives. They were covered with wet slime, and

seemed quite lifeless; but he carried them and laid them on two nests

of red ants. Then he sat down at some little distance and watched them.

The ants quickly covered the bodies, cleaned them rapidly of the wet

slime, and soon Byamee noticed the muscles of the girls twitching.

"Ah," he said, "there is life, they feel the sting of the ants."

Almost as he spoke came a sound as of a thunder-clap, but the sound

seemed to come from the ears of the girls. And as the echo was dying

away, slowly the girls rose to their feet. For a moment they stood

apart, a dazed expression on their faces. Then they clung together,

shaking as if stricken with a deadly fear. But Byamee came to them and

explained how they had been rescued from the kurreahs by him. He bade

them to beware of ever bathing in the deep holes of the Narran, lest

such holes be the haunt of kurreahs.

Then he bade them look at the water now at Boogira, and he said:

"Soon will the black swans find their way here, the pelicans and the

ducks; where there was dry land and stones in the past, in the future

there will be water and water-fowl, from henceforth; when the Narran

runs it will run into this hole, and by the spreading of its waters

will a big lake be made." And what Byamee said has come to pass, as the

Narran Lake shows, with its large sheet of water, spreading for miles,

the home of thousands of wild fowl.