Australia's First People

Sacred Stories

What follows is a collection of Aboriginal sacred stories. These stories have been translated into English by Europeans. It is important to remember that in the translation important ideas and concepts might have been lost or misinterpreted. The Aboriginal society held these stories as a sacred part of their life in Australia. To recite and know a story was to be in touch with the Spirit of the Land. These stories provided the meaning of life as well as a blueprint for survival. To know the stories was to know how to live in your land.

The story of Bunjil

Bunjil, the Eaglehawk, was powerful and headman of the Kulin. Bunjil had six young men, Djurt, (the Nankeen Kestrel) Thara, (the Quail Hawk) Yukope, (the Green Parakeet) Dantum, (the Blue Mountain Parrot) Tadjeri, (the Brush-tail Possum) and Turnung, (the Glider Possum) to look after the people for him. After Bunjil made the mountains, rivers, animals and men, he taught the men how to make tools and how to behave with one another. When he finished he decided to leave earth, taking his family with him. He told crow, who was in charge of the wind, to create a great wind. The great wind blew Bunjil and his family up inot the sky where they look down on the world as stars.

(Collected by R.Brough Smyth, 1878)

How the Yarra River was made.

One day a boy poked a stick into a hole in the ground. A deep, growling voice was heard and an old man, who had been sleeping underground with his mouth open, appeared. He picked up the frightened boy and shuffled off, dragging his feet from the weight of the boy. His feet made a furrow, which deepened into a gutter, then into a creek and finally became the Yarra River. Bunjil heard the frightened boy and put sharp stones in the path of the old man, who fell and cut himself to pieces. The boy ran home. Bunjil said to the dying old man, "Let this be a lesson to all men. They must be good to childzron".

The making of Port Phillip Bay.

Port Phillip Bay was once dry land. The Kulin people hunted kangaroos and emus there. One day, a small boy upset a magic trough of water, which continued to pour, threatening to drown all the people. Bunjil felt sorry for them and placed a rock where Mornington is now. With two other rocks he made the heads of the bay, and told the water to run out between them and meet the ocean. That is how Port Phillip Bay was made.


The Nargun.

A mysterious creature, Nargun, lives in caves in various places in the bush. If anyone goes near one of these caves they could fall within the power of Nargun and never be seen again. No person can kill Nargun. If a spear is thrown at Nargun the spear returns to the thrower and wounds him. Nargun is like a rock, however no one knows exactly what he looks like.

The first fire.

A man threw a spear, with a rope attached to it up into the clouds. The man climbed up the rope to the sun, where he obtained fire. He brought the fire back down to earth.