In 1997 I published a book of stories in Jiwarli with English translations that were told and explained to me by Jack Butler. The stories include traditional narratives dealing with the ancestral beings, events from Jack’s personal history, and ethnographic texts about how Jiwarli people carried on their lives traditionally. The book was published in Japan and is now out of print, so I present some of the stories here, in a new transcription that reflects the spelling preferences of people in the Gascoyne Region. The first story was told on 3rd November 1983 and explained on 15th May 1984.
Plains Kangaroo and Hill Kangaroo
This story describes how gurrbirli Plains Kangaroo (also called ‘red kangaroo’) and madhanma Hill Kangaroo (also called ‘euro’ or ‘wallaroo’) decided where each of them was to live.
Plains kangaroo (Osphranter rufus) (left) and hill kangaroo (Macropus robustus) (right)
Gurrbirli madhanma gumbaja wanggaarni ngana gumbayi barlungga ngana gumbayi barlgarrala. Madhanma wanggaja. Nhurra dharrbama nyirnda walhungga. Ngurndama nhurra nyirnda jumangga walhungga. Gurrbirli ngunha dharrbanyja ngurndayi walhungga ngunhi jumangga barlungga. Gurrbirli wanggaja. Nhaarrinyjarru. Nhurra ngarda ngurndinha jurungga. Gurrbirli wanggaja. Nhurra dharrbama ngurndayi. Bigurda dharrbanyja ngunhiba walhungga ngurndayi. Nhurra ngurndinha birdurarru warrirru mulgu nhanyabuga mandhardalu gurningurru nhurramba. Nhurra gumbama barlunyungu. Ngunha wanggaja. Ngaa. Nhurra yanama gumbayi. Gurrbirli wanggaja. Nhurra yanama bugardirarrila gumbayi barlgarrala malungga ngurndayi bugardila gujilarabirrila.
Plains Kangaroo and Hill Kangaroo were talking to one another about who would live in the hills and who would live on the flat. Hill Kangaroo said: “You go into the cave here. You lie down here in the small cave”. Plains Kangaroo went in to lie there in the small cave. Plains Kangaroo said: “What happened?” “Your legs are lying in the sun” [said Hill Kangaroo]. Plains Kangaroo said: “You go in to lie down.” Hill Kangaroo went in there to lie in the cave. “You are lying concealed so you won’t be seen by men looking for you. You live among the hills” [said Plains Kangaroo]. That other one (Hill Kangaroo) said: “Yes. You go and live there.” Plains Kangaroo said: “You go to live amongst the snakewood on the flat ground, to lie in the snakewood and amongst the mulga.”