Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories About the Land

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine some of the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories that explain land formations. Dreamtime stories explain how the ancestral spirits, people, and land come together to explain the laws of life.

Dreamtime Stories

Think about what has gone into the formation of the mountains, streams, oceans, and other elements that make up the landscape around you. The Aboriginal people, or indigenous people of Australia, use Dreamtime stories that have been passed down through generations to explain these wonders of nature. Let's summarize some of these stories that deal with land formations.


Gulaga is the sacred mountain for the people of Yuin-Monaro. Gulaga has two sons named Najanuga and Barranguba. The eldest, Barranguba, is referred to as Montague Island. As Barranguba gets older, he decides to move away. He goes out to the sea where he supervises the fish and the whales.

Najanuga wants to prove that he is growing up, too. He asks if he can join his big brother, but his mother refuses. She is afraid that he will be swallowed by Gadu, the sea. Instead, she puts him down next to her so that he can watch his brother while staying under the close supervision of his mother. The Yuin-Monaro people call Najunuga 'mummy's little boy.'

Water in the Plains

The Butchulla people of Fraser Island tell the story that explains how water became available in the plains. Long ago, there was a terrible drought on the plains. All except one well had run dry and all the rain ran on the other side of the mountain to the sea. Two men, Weeri and Walawidbit decide to steal all the water in the remaining well for themselves. They made an eel-a-mun, which is a large water carrier, and ran off.

The next morning, the Elders realize the two men are missing, along with all the water needed to care for the children and elderly people in the village. They send the warriors to track down the thieves. Weeri and Walawidbit escape the spears, but the eel-a-mun sustains a hole and begins to drip water across the plains.

When the warriors catch up to the men, Weeri and Walawidbit are called to a meeting with the Elders. As punishment for stealing and selfishness, Weeri was changed into the first emu and Walawidbit was changed into the first blue-tongued lizard.

In all of the places where the eel-a-mun dripped water, pools and waterholes formed. From that point forward, there was not only enough water for the people, but birds and plants also inhabited the area.

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