Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Baiame's Bora  

There was a gathering of the tribes to be held at Googoogreewon and Old Baime decided to take his 2 sons Ghindainndamui and Boomoomanowi to be initiated so they could marry, eat emu meat and learn to fight. The men knew about the ceremony but the women were not to be told about it. The ceremonies were to be held on an open space between ridges, and as the men from the different tribes arrived they camped along the ridges, each in their own camp. Hundreds of people took part in the corroborees, each tribe trying to be the best at dancing and singing.

During the day the men hunted, feasted, and exchanged their daughters for marriage, young wives for old warriors and old women given to young men, and babies being promised to men when they were old enough to marry. Before every transaction the Wireenun, native doctors, were consulted. See trade.

To prevent the women knowing about the coming ceremonies, the men went out each day, apparently to hunt, but secretly prepared the Bora ground, clearing a large circle and building an earth dam around it, and cleared a pathway into the dense bush with a bank on either side. See religion.

The night the boys were to be initiated a corroboree was held in the main Bora ring for all the people, including the women and children. After a time 2 Wireenuns pretended to fight to distract the women and children. When the attention of all was on the Wireenuns, a strange sound, actually the sound made by bullroarers being swung around, suddenly began in the bush around the Bora ground. The women and children believed it was the sound of the spirits coming to take part in the initiation ceremonies and huddled together in the middle of the circle. 

The following day everyone moved camp to the Bora ground. Baiame had become so angry at the people of the dog tribe because of the constant talking and laughing that he took away their power of speech. From then on they and their descendants can only bark and howl. The people believe the dogs that are their descendants still have the look of yearning and entreaty in their eyes that the dog tribe felt when they realised they could no longer speak.

On returning to his camp he asked why the women weren't grinding grass seeds, to which they replied that their dayoorls (grinding stones) had gone. He said he didn't believe them, accusing them of lending them to the pigeon people, and they went around to all the other camps looking for their dayoorls, but none had them. While the women were looking for their dayoorls they heard a sound that seemed to come from everywhere, that they thought was the sound of the spirits. When Baiame flashed a firestick at the sound 2 dayoorls could be seen moving across the ground.

The pigeon people had seen the dayoorls gliding through their camp and, to avoid angering the spirits followed them to Dirango Mountain where there were piles of dayoorls. From then on people had to travel to that mountain to get good dayoorls. The Dummerh (pigeon people) were changed into pigeons, making the noise the dayoorls made as they glided to the mountain, oom, oom, oom.

After dark on that day the corroboree began. The women related to the boys being initiated danced all night. The next morning all the young women were ordered to enter bough humpies, the old women remaining. At this time each initiate was grabbed by a man who carried him along the track to the scrub. After saying goodbye to the boys, the old women joined the young women in the humpies, so they could see no more of the rituals. A few months later the boys would return to the camp, with a front tooth missing and scarification.

The following day the tribes prepared to move to a small Bora about 12 miles away. Millindooloonubbah, a widow, staggered into the camp crying, as the tribes were about to leave.  She accused the rest of the people of not waiting for her and drinking all the water at the waterholes along the way, and none of the people helped her with her many children. She said that she could only carry some of the children, the others had to walk a long way and eventually died of thirst. One of the women brought her some water, she drank it but said it was too late, then standing up, she told all the tribes around her that as they were in such a hurry to get here, they should all stay. She turned all the tribes around her into trees, and the tribes in the background were turned into the animals associated with their name.

It was said that the tall, gaunt trees are still there, looking sad in their sombre colours, waving their branches towards the bora ground, now covered by a lake. The lake, Googoorewon, is now a great meeting place for the birds that were once tribes by the same name, black swans, pelicans and ducks, and in the grass around the lake are blue-tongued lizards. Pigeons still call 'oom, oom, oom'.

The men and boys in the little Bora had no idea what had happened to the tribes, but when the rest of the tribes didn't arrive, they feared something terrible must have happened to them and hurried to Noondoo. It is said that Baiame, the old man who never dies, the most powerful of the Wireenum, still lives in the thick scrub on one of the ridges at Noondoo.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Jennifer Isaacs, 2005, Australian Dreaming: 40,000 years of Aboriginal History, New Holland Publishers.


The Borah of Byamee


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 30/09/2011

Aboriginal Mythology
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading