Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

The Milky Way                                                                                                                                                                                      

Examples of Dreamtime stories about the Milky Way come from South Australia and northeastern Arnhem Land.

In the South Australian story Jooteetch, the native cat, had a wife, Wej, the emu. One day Wardu, the wombat, walked into wej's camp while Jooteetch was out hunting. He seduced her and when the sun went down she told him to go because her husband would kill them both if he caught them. Wardu go up to go, but first he covered wej with red ochre, which is precious, that was used for ceremonies. She told Jooteetch she found the ochre but he didn't believe her. He had seen Wardu's tracks and made her tell him the truth. He told her to make a fire, then grabbing her, threw her into the fire. She flew out of the fire and right up to the sky. She became the dark patch in the Milky Way known to the Aboriginal People of the area as Wej Mor.

In an example from northeastern Arnhem Land, the story from the Dreamtime when animals and men were all one people, Walik, the crow, and Bari Pari, the cat, built a fish trap on the beach. On the first day the trap caught Balin the barramundi, and some of his friends and relatives. Walik and Bari pari decided to have a dance ceremony to show their happiness at catching so many fish. As they danced Balin called out to other clans to come and help him. When they came they speared and ate Balin and all the other fish. When the crow people and the cat people came to collect the fish all that was left was Balin's bones on the sand.

They said they had to fight the people who ate the fish, but first they buried the bones because he was a friend and totem, as they would not have eaten Balin. They planteda hollow pole, painted it, put Balin's bones in it, and set it in the sand. When they caught up with the people who had eaten the fish they had a fight, but they were losing because there were too many people in the group who ate Balin. The cat people and the crow people decided to fly up to the sky with the pole containing Balin's bones, camping beside the river that flows across the sky. The twinkling in Milnguya, the Milky Way, is really the many camp fires and the small spots on the cats. Walik the crow and the pole containing Balin's bones are also there. Swimming in the river is Ying-arpaya, the great crocodile, the spines on his back and the curve of his tail are marked by big stars.

Sources & Further reading

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


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

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