THE ROCK AND THE SEABIRD
Panaroo was in love with Wantapi – a beautiful young girl who didn’t return his affection. In fact she was in love with one of the sky people.
The sky people lived above the clouds and their fires could be seen on a clear night twinkling in the blackness. Sometimes, when the moon was dropping down behind the sea, its light made steps across the water for a sky person to run down them to visit their lovers.
Panaroo was very angry with Wantapi for rejecting him and asked his uncle, who was a magician, to turn her into a fish which he could then catch and keep in a stone jar.
When Wantapi’s sky lover heard she had been turned into a fish, he became enraged and had Panaroo turned into a rock which poked out of the sea. And, to be near his lover, he came back to earth as a sea bird so he could fly above the waves to look for Wantapi. And he used the stone head of Panaroo to rest and make his nest.
When he found Wantapi, they waited until the moon made its golden stairs, Wantapi swam to her lover and they climbed up to the moon which carried them back to his camp fire in the sky.
Panaroo was left solid in the sea, looking at all the fish that swim past, hoping to see Wantapi.
THE STONE, THE FLYING FISH AND THE GULL
Three brothers were renowned for their fishing skills. They speared and trapped fish in grass basket nets their women plaited and knitted in the winter when the grass was soft and pliable.
The fish traps were wider at their mouth and narrowed towards the tail. The brothers weighed down their traps with stones they collected along the beach from which they fished.
While they waited for fish to swim into their traps, they speared fish which swam into the shallow water at the end of the sandy beach.
A seagull also fished the same area.
One day the gull told the brothers that huge fish flew through the air like birds. They had sails on their backs like boats and fins like wings.
“If you could catch one of these big fish it would give you enough food for your tribe for weeks and you could leave the little fish for me.”
But the brothers were too lazy to build a boat and make a sail for the wind to blow it out into the deep water beyond the horizon. So the brothers continued to fish from the beach where they piled their stones to weigh down their traps. They never moved from the same spot beside the stones. Eventually they came to look like the pile of stones and, indeed, in time turned into stone themselves.
The outcrop of stones can still be seen where the brothers fished and the seagulls sit on them to rest from their fishing.
WHY THE EMU DOESN’T FLY
The emu once flew as high as the eagle. It circled and rose with the thermals, swept through ravines and glided over mountains and desert. Its wings were huge and powerful. And the emu was arrogant, believing he was king of the world. He flew high simply to show he could. He flew fast to impress his friends. The emu was a show-off. He was constantly shouting to be noticed “Look at me! Look at me! Aren’t I handsome!”
His feathers were as colourful as the most beautiful parrot, so he was constantly looking at his reflection in the still water of billabongs.
“I am the biggest and most beautiful of all the birds. I fly higher and further and faster than any of you” he cackled self importantly, preening himself. “I can fly as high as the sun. Just watch me.”
And, with that, he flapped his mighty wings and rose into the air like an arrow, straight towards the sun which shone bright and hot. Up, up, up he soared, higher and higher.
“Be careful!” shouted the eagle. “Don’t fly too close to the sun!”
The emu just laughed.
“Just because you can’t fly this high you are jealous!” And so he raced towards the fire in the sky.
He flew so close his wings caught fire and he came crashing back to earth.
The emu’s wings never grew again. And the smoke coloured his brightly coloured feathers grey and they are that colour even today.