Stories in Jiwarli 7

Today’s post presents another story in Jiwarli with English translation, told to me by Jack Butler on 3rd November 1983 and explained on 17th May 1984. There is information about the Jiwarli spelling.

Willie Wagtail and fire

The location for this story is bibinyji Peepingee Pool in the Ashburton River in Thalanyji traditional territory. It tells how fire was stolen by the bird jindijindi Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) because he had been mistreated by the other animals and not fed. He kills all the children and leaves with a single firestick to live by the seaside at Jurrujurru. The story goes on to explain the characteristics of all the other birds as they are each in turn implored to go and bring the fire back. At last the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) succeeds in this task and is called garladhindirnira ‘one who knocks together fire’; on his return to the camp he knocks the ancestral firestick against various trees and it is from these now that men are able to make fire. Jack Butler’s story ends with a note that ancestral Peregrine Falcon was turned into stone at a place near Peepingee, only to be eventually stolen by whitemen.

Jindijindi gamu gumbanhu nyirnda dhurndi dhigalgurniya dhuwalga ngurrunyjarrilu. Ngunhaburra ngunha. Ngurra bularalaburradhu babanggaburradhu ngurrangga. Gumbaardu jindijindi gamu ngurnubandhi ganyiniyadhurndiyidhu mara dhaarriya jindijindilu warri wandharnu ngurnu. Gamurru gumbanhu walhirringurru gumbiniya jindijindi. Jindijindiyi warri yarrugarrinyja ngunhaburradhu ngunha mandhardanyjarri. Walhi. Walhi ngunha jindijindi. Nhaarrinyjalu ngulha. Gumbaja ngunha gamumanda ngunhiba wirribugala burrardinyjarri ngunha buniya banilgarringu dhuwalgawu warri wandharrgarringu. Barrundhu ngunhaba wanggaja. Nhurragara yanama manyjanhu wandindhi. Jumardi yinha wandhanma ngadhala. Ngadha gumbira jumardi nyirnda dhurndijagawu nhurragaramba. Barlirrirarni ngadhanha wandharru. Ngadha jumardiyirru gumbira galgurnu. Nhurragara yanama wandindhi manyjanhu dhurndiyi. Bayalba wirribuga warndija manyjanhu dhurndiyi birrungga ngula dhanambala wayurdala birrungga jindijindi gumbiniya garlanyjarri ngunha ngurndiniya dhaniburda gurrurdu. Garlarninyjarru wirribuga manyjanhu yanara. Jumardi nhurragaralu wandhanma ngadhala. Nyirnda gumbira jumardi. Jindijindi ngunha gumbaja gayanurru jumardiyirru manararringu. Wirndubinyanyja wandindhi garlanggarru jugulgarringu. Malu ngunha dhaniburdadhu. Ngunhirruba jugurninyja jumardinha. Dhanarru gambira dhaniburdala. Gambaja ngunhaba jumardi wandirru. Nhanyanggu ngarlburrinyja jindijindidhu. Bayalbarru ngunha gumbajarru. Jindijindi gumbaja ngarlburringurru dhardujaga babawurru manangu. Barnanggajirru ngarlburrirarri bundharu dhaniburdarla,dhanamanangurru babawu, ngurnuba dhaniburdawudhu bundharnu babajaga, burdanymarnurru. Manararringu gayanu ngunha wuwarda garla. Ngarlburrirarringu gumbayi ngula babanggarru dhanardilarru, jurrujurrularru. Yananyjarni ngunha wirribuga dhurndijaga dhuwalgajaga burrardijibidhu birrujaga jindijindiyi gurninggurru jumardiyi gurninggurru. Wandhala jumardidhu. Nhaarlarninyja nguluba. Garlawu yanararringu nhanyanggu. Garla bundharninyjarru. Wandindhi birdurarnirninyjarru garla. Nhaarru ngandhurralu dhigalga. Barlungga gurlarninyja nhanyararringu. Ngunharru ngunha jindijindi gumbinha garlajaga dhanardila. Ngana bagalyadhu. Nhurra wagurra. Ngaa. Ngabarninyja ngunha marudhalu. Gurdurlarninyjarru. Gurluwarnirninyjarru. Gurluwarru gumbinha. Yanama nhurra ngurlu garlarla mananggu mundaru. Wagurra yananyja gumbayi birruwurru dhigarnu ngunhabirru wirndubinyanyjabarndi bularnduranyjarriyi yangarnu gumbayi. Nhurra walhi. Nganalu ngunha garla manara. Jurrurarninyja jarlalyanha. Nhurra. Ngunha yananyja yangarnu gumbayi walangunyjarriyi mardurandhi yirnumalu gumbiniya gamunyjarridhu. Yanyjanha warlardunha nguluba jurrurarninyja. Warlardunha ngabarninyja marudhalu. Warlardu ngarlburrinyja gumbayi mardura yangarnu birrunyjarriyirru wayurdawurru. Nhurra walhi. Nganalu ngunha garla manara. Nhurra barru. Nhurra garladhindirnira gurugurura nhurra yinidhu. Ngaa. Ngunha dhurninyjandhi. Yananyja ngunha burdibalarru. Wandharninyja juuri wanggarra. Wandharninyja galaba wanggarra. Gaji nhurra yanama mananggu ngurlu garlarla. Ngandhurraju wirndurrirangurru nyirnda gamunyjarri. Gurugurura ngunha ngarlburrinyja. Jindijindilu nhanyanyjarni ngunha nhugurru. Babangga dharrbarninyja garla. Gurugurura ngunha yananyja dhanardila ngula. Jindijindilu barrundhurru jigalbarninyja. Gurugurura yijarra yananyja. Nyajurrinyja barlirrirarringurru. Ngarlungga yananyjarni babanggadhu nhuguwilarringurru. Jindijindilu jigalbarninyja garla. Gurugururalu janbirninyjarru garla. Barlirrirarringu gurugurura ngurlu wirribugarlarru garlawu dhindirnirnurru. Wirribuga manggaburdurrinyjarru. Dharlarninyjarru gurugururanha dhurndinggu. Yinharru guwardi ngudhurlbalu badharrgurna mandhardalu. Badharninyja wurungga. Garladhindirniralu dhindirnirninyja ngunha garla. Banhalunha barlunggarru wandharninyja bibinyjila wardandugujila. Ngunhiba ngunha gumbaja barlungga. Guwardidhu ngunha gurninyja barrundhu ngurnu. Walybalalu mananyja ngunhaba. Walybala guwardiburradhu yananyjarni. Mananyja ngunha barlu.


Willie Wagtail was sitting hungry as the old people were eating the seeds of spinifex top. That was long ago. That was when the place was soft and watery. Willie Wagtail used to sit hungry while the others carried food about and he would beg for food but they wouldn’t give him any. Willie Wagtail was hungry getting thin. The people didn’t like Willie Wagtail at that time. He was bad. That Willie Wagtail was bad. I don’t know why. He used to be hungry while all the women went to grind spinifex tops but they didn’t give him any. Then he said again: “You all go hunting. Leave the children with me. The children and I will sit here waiting for you to come back with food. You will come back to give me some. I will sit and wait for the children. You all go hunting for food.” So they all got up and went hunting for food, for their possum meat while Willie Wagtail stayed behind, and the gum tree stumps were burning in the fireplaces. He sent the mob hunting. “Leave the children with me”, he said. Willie Wagtail sat alone and was going to get the children. He killed them all and threw them on the fire. That was the shade of the fireplace. He threw the children there. He left them to burn in the fireplace. The children all burned there. Willie Wagtail ran to see. That’s how they finished. Willie Wagtail ran with a dish getting water. He ran with it on his head to douse the fireplaces, carrying water to douse the fireplaces and put the fires out. He got one firestick. He ran to sit by the seaside at Jurrujurru. The mob came with food, and the women with spinifex top and meat, looking for Willie Wagtail and the children. “Where are the children? What has he done with (them)?” they asked. They went to look at the fires. “The fires have been doused. The fires have all been extinguished”, they said. “What will we eat?” they asked each other. They climbed a hill to look. They all said: “That is Willie wagtail sitting with the fire by the sea. Who is good? How about you crow?” “Yes”, Crow replied. They painted him with black paint. They made him dark. They made him black. He is black now. “You go there to get the fire and take it away from him”, they said. Crow went and ate meat that had been killed and chased Bularndura lizards. “You are no good. Who will get the fire?”, they asked. They pointed to Spotted Chicken Hawk. They asked him: “How about you?” He went and chased birds in the middle while the mob were sitting hungry. They pointed to another one, Eaglehawk. They painted Eaglehawk with black paint. Eaglehawk ran and chased possums in the middle. They said: “You’re no good. Who will get the fire? How about you? Your name is Garladhindirnira Peregrine Falcon.” “Yes”, he replied, laughing. He was pretty now. They put paint on his throat. They put it like this on his throat. They told him: “You try to go and get the fire. We hungry people might all die here now.” Peregrine Falcon ran. Willie Wagtail saw him close by. He put the fire into the water. Peregrine Falcon went to the sea. Willie Wagtail held it up again. Peregrine Falcon went past. He turned round to come back. He came back on top of the waves and got close. Willie Wagtail held up the fire. Peregrine Falcon snatched the fire. He came back to the mob knocking the fire together. The mob were glad. They fed Peregrine Falcon with food. That’s how men twirl fire drills. He hit it against the trees. Peregrine Falcon knocked the fire. They put him there on a rock to the east of Bibinyji. There he sat on the rock. Recently we went looking for that. The white men had taken it. The white men came recently. They took that stone.

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