Stories in Jiwarli 15

Today’s post presents a personal reminiscence story in Jiwarli with English translation, told to me by Jack Butler on 3rd November 1983 and explained on 16th May 1984. There is information about the Jiwarli spelling here.

Echidna

This story is about jiribarri Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), a spiny ant-eating monotreme. When disturbed, Echidna curls up into a ball, using its spines to protect itself. Echidnas were traditionally hunted for food, and Jack explains that if they found an Echidna the old people would talk to it, and tell it to uncurl so that they could give it chest cicatrices. These are scars cut across the chest of initiated men as a sign of knowledge. Notice that there is a story similar to this Jiwarli one called Text 18 “Anteater’s Law” on pages 53-56 of Carl Georg von Brandenstein. 1970. Narratives from the North-West of Western Australia in the Ngarluma and Jindjiparndi Languages. (Australian Aboriginal Studies, 35) Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Echidna

Echidna curled up

Nhuguramardudhu ngurrunyjarri julyumardu ngunha nhanyaardu jiribarrinha buniyanha. Jiribarri ngunha jagubarlarrirarru. Ngurndirarri jagubarlarru barnajibi ngunha warrirru nhanyabuga. Ngurrunyjarrilu yarnararnilaardu ngurndabuga ngunha jagubarla. Wanggirarringu. Yarnararrima nhurra. Ngadha nhurranha murrurrba manara. Ngadha nhurranha murrurrba manara. Gunyarnurru ngunha gumbanhu. Jiribarri ngunha gurlganyundhurru yarnararrira. Yarnararrira barnarru dhanggalbuga wurunggu wirndubinyangurru birrurru yanararri dhigaru.

Translation

The knowledgeable grey-haired old men used to see Echidna going along. Echidna would curl up now. He would lie curled up and you can’t see his head. The old men used to turn him over onto his back so he would lie there curled up. They would say: “Lie on your back. I’ll get you cicatrices. I’ll get you cicatrices”. They would tell him lies now. Echidna would open up and lie on his back pleased. He would lie on his back and then they would hit him on the head with a stick, and kill him to go and eat the meat.

 

Stories in Jiwarli 14

Today’s post presents a personal reminiscence story in Jiwarli with English translation, told and explained to me by Jack Butler on 18th May 1985. There is information about the Jiwarli spelling here.

The Bowerbird

This story is about dharrarrayilba Western Bowerbird (Chlamydera guttata). The male builds an elaborate bower out of sticks in order to attract females. The bower is decorated with white and green objects, including fruit, berries, pebbles, shells and bones. Post-contact objects like buttons or pieces of glass may also be collected. The male advertises his bower with a range of calls, imitating other birds and animals, as well as various other sounds, and performs dances for females who come to inspect the bower.

The story begins with some brief remarks about traditions associated with the Bowerbird, who is said to have been hit on the head. Jack says that the Bowerbird builds a bingu ‘hide for game’ and shows his children how to stalk game from it. He then goes on to reminisce about a time when he saw a Bowerbird. He was hunting and killing dingoes with a white man when they heard a sound like pups whimpering; on investigation it turned out to be a Bowerbird exercising its extraordinary imitative powers.

Western Bowerbird looking out from his bower

Dharrarrayilbanha nhaalu ngulha barna budhirninyja. Ngadha ngarlarrinyja ngurnuba biyalgu. Barnadhu ngunha guwardi gumbinha malhumanda. Guwardidhu ngunha gumbinha warrirru warndija wamburradhu barnanggadhu. Ngunhaba barlgarrarru yirraradhu barna. Nhanyaardu ngunha. Barlunyjarriyi ngunha gumbirarri manangu yirranguwu yajinanyjarriyi. Yajinawu gumbirarri manangu ngunhirruba wandharrgarringu barnumbaladhu bingungga. Ngunha bingu wandharninyja. Bingu wandharninyja wirlga ngurndira. Yanararri ngunha ngunhibadhu. Ngadha nhanyanyja bingu wangginiyala madhangu gurrbirliyi wardawardirarringurru. Binyararringu gurrjardajaga bingunggangurulu. Yanararringu ngunhaba nyumburru ngurlubanhanyanggu bingungga wardawardinggu ngunhiba bingungga wirlgangga gurrbirliyi binyararringu madhangu. Barrundhu ngurnuba gumbirarringu gurlgayirnu gumbiniya birdibinyangu yirranguwu wurndalgarringu birruwu. Jumardidhu ganyararringu barnumbala ngunhiba nhugurarniru nhugurarniru ngunhiba. Nyumburru ngunhi yanararri. Garndindi yanararri ngarramarri. Nyumbudhu yananyjarru barlunyjarriyirru wandamalgarringurru nhugurarnirnu jumardiyi barnumbawu. Ngunhirru ngurndira ngunha mardamarda yajinanyjarridhu gayanugujila juwirijagarru barlunyjarridhu wanda manararringu. Ngunha wilybu ngunha yanyjadhu barlgurninyja ngurndabuga gayanuguji. Ngunha gumbirarri wandamarnu wandamarnu. Barlu wandamalgarri ngunhaba ngurndira. Gayanurru gayanurru ngurndira. Ngurnubarndibadhu yanararri ngulagayi. Ngunhaba barrundhu barlirrirarringurni bundhurrbarnilgarringurru. Bundhurrba ngurndira gayanura barlunyjarri. Yanararri ngunhaba wandhala ngulha. Ngadha gumbaja ngurndanhu malungga windmill ngurndanhu malungga dinnerwu dhigarninyjalu. Ngurndanhu gumbaja ngadha gurlgayilgarringu you gnow wandhagala yinha waya madhanma or gurrbirlidharrbayi wayangga. Waya ngunha galarrirarri [liiin]. Ngadha warndija nhanyanggu. Warri gajalbu. Bambandhi gumbayi gurningu. Nhaanha yinha wayangga gumbinha dharrbanhu. Ngurndirarri barrundhurru. Barrundhurru ngunhaba waya [liiin] galababaju waya wandhagala ngunha waya gurrbirli dharrbiniya wayangga. Ngurndirarri. Ngurndirarri barrundhurru. Barru ngadha gurlganyurringu gumbaja nhanyangu yirraragurrira yarnara ngurndanhu. Nhanyanyja bayalba yinha dharrarrayilbagumbiniya wangganhu. Yanyjadhu. Ngaliju walybala dhudhuwu gurningu nhambarawu. Yananyja jinamarnu jinamarnu barlungga gurlarnu yirrabirdila warrgalarringurru gurlarnu. Ngunha walybala ngadhala wanggaja. Have a sbell made. All righd. Ngadha gumbaja all righd. Dharrarrayilba ngunha yirrarabarndi yananyjarni ngunhirruba wurungga gumbayi. Ngalijuru warri nhanyanyja ngunha dharrarrayilbanha. Gurlgayilgarringu jumardi ngunha nhambara ngadhidharriya galarringu [nnnn] dhurndarnu barluwu. Yinha walybala ngadhala wanggaja. Whad’s dhad? yinha jumardi nhambara gumbinha yirrara ngunha. Yinhaba ngalijuru gurlgayirninyja ngadhidharriyawu jumardiyi nhambarawu dharrarrayilba gumbiniya ngararajarnu nhambarawu jumardiyi. Ngadha wanggaja ngunhilaba walybalala. Yinha ngalila dharrarrayilba wangginha. Ngunha yirrarabarndi yananyjarni. Ngaliju gurlarninyja ngaanygurrirarringu yirrara. Bayalbandhurru gurlgayilgarringu nhambarawu ngadhidharriyawu jumardiyi. Yanararri ngaliju nhanyanggu. Bayalbandhu mulgurlarninyja jumardinha nhambaranha. Walybaladhu ngunha dharrbanyjarru walhungga jumangga. Wiinggarnurru gumbirarri jumardiyi nhambarawu barna gujirnurru.

Translation

Something hit Bowerbird on the head. I forget that story. His head has a hole in now. Now he lives with no feathers growing on his head. His head is bare on top. He used to look about. He got stones, stone knives, berries. He got sweet food to put there in his hide. He put down a hide, he put down a hide and lay in the gap. He goes there. I saw a hide; the old people had talked about how he looked over it for hill kangaroos and plains kangaroos. He was going to spear them with a spear from the hide. So he goes in and hides, to look at them in the hide, to look over the gap in the hide to spear plains kangaroos and hill kangaroos. Sometimes you will hear him making a sound like cracking stones to cut meat. He will carry his children there to his place to teach them, to teach them there. They go along there hiding away. They go in a line, one behind another. Bowerbird would go along hidden to separate stones according to their size and colour, teaching his children. Red berries will lie on one side, separated from the stones with a mark. He piles up another lot of leaves on one side to lie down on. He separates them, and separates them. He separates the stones and will lie down. They lie down one by one. After that he goes somewhere else to collect more things. Then he comes back and makes a heap. A heap of stones will lie there on one side. He goes somewhere or other again. One time, I was lying in the shade of a windmill after having eaten dinner. I was lying there and heard a sound like, you know, how fence wire goes when a hill kangaroo or plains kangaroo goes through it. The wire went like this [liiin]. I got up to look. It wasn’t an emu. I couldn’t find anything. “What is going through the wire?” I thought to myself. I lay down again. And then again the wire went [liiin] like that, how a wire goes when a kangaroo goes through the wire. I lay down, I lay down again. So I lay there thinking, looking up while lying on my back. Then I saw this Bowerbird singing. “Here’s another one”, I thought. A white man and I were looking for dingoes. We went looking for tracks, climbing up the ledge on the hill, crawling, and climbing. The white man said to me: “Have a spell mate.” “All right” I replied. I sat down alright. A Bowerbird came from above to sit there in the tree near us, but we didn’t see the Bowerbird. Next we heard baby dingoes crying going like this [nnn], scratching the rocks. The white man said to me: “There are baby dingoes up above us there”. Then we heard this sound of baby dingoes crying, but it was a Bowerbird imitating baby dingoes. I said to the white man: “This is a Bowerbird talking to us”. It came from above. So we climbed up and rested at the top. Then we heard baby dingoes crying, and we went to look. Next we came across a baby dingo walking along near a cave. The white man went into the small cave. He pulled the baby dingoes out and bashed their heads.

Stories in Jiwarli 13

Today’s post presents a personal reminiscence story in Jiwarli with English translation, told and explained to me by Jack Butler on 18th May 1985. There is information about the Jiwarli spelling here.

Halley’s comet

This story dates from the 19th or 20th April 1910 when Jack was living at Glen Florrie Station (see map below) and at nine years old had already begun riding horses and doing yard work on the station. One night, he saw what he describes as a star with a long tail cross the sky. It was so bright that kangaroos could be seen crawling on the hills near the station. According to Jack, the white stockmen said the light was so intense that they could count the sheep in a mob they were looking after. What Jack describes is the passage of Halley’s comet 75 years previously. As Elizabeth Howell reported on Space.com in September 2017, “[t]he comet’s pass in 1910 was particularly spectacular, as the comet flew by about 13.9 million miles (22.4 million kilometers) from Earth, which is about one-fifteenth the distance between Earth and the sun”.

Photograph of Halley’s comet 21st April 1910, from Harvard University’s Southern Hemisphere Station in Peru (http://dasch.rc.fas.harvard.edu/gallery.php, accessed 2020-07-26)

Ngunhaburra gumbaja ngurnubarndibadhu. Ngurnubarndidhu ngadha gumbaja. Yananyjarni barlirringu mimburndadhu mayangga. Maajaru ngunhiba. Barrundhu nhanyanyja gundhardijaga bardara ngula. Ngunha bardaradhu wardandu gundhardidhu nyirnda jirndinggarru ngurndiniya. Gumbaja jurunggagundirru nhanyangu madhangu warrgalarriyawu barlungga yirrara. Jirrilmarringurru gumbaja ngurrunyjarri. Nhaanha ngunha ngandhurrarla. Guwardi maarru warndija. Nganggarnu. Gumbaja ngunhiba jurunggagundirru gardajula nhanyangu gurrbirliyi madhangu barlungga warrgalarriyawu babarla. Gumbaja ngurnubarndibadhu ngurrunyjarri julyunyjarri gurlganyurringu. Nhaanha ngunhabadhu. Nhaanha ngunhaba ngandhurrarla. Guwardi maarru murlgurrinyja. Bayalbarru ngunhaba. Gayanura ngunhaba gardajula. Yanyjala gardajula gurninyjarru ngurrunyjarri. Aa wandhawurru ngunhabadhu yananyja gundhardijaga bardara.

Translation

I was there after that. After that I was there. I came back to the house at Glenn Florrie. The boss was there. Then I saw a star with a tail there. The tail of the star was here in the sky in the east. You could see the hill kangaroos crawling on top of the hill as if it were daytime. The old men were afraid. They said: “What is that for us? This is the first time it appeared”. They didn’t know. You could see in the night as if it were day the kangaroos crawling on the hill towards the water. After that the old grey-haired men thought: “What is that? What is that to us? This is the first time it turned up”. That was it. That was on just one night. On another night the old men looked for it. “Oh where has that star with a tail gone?” they asked.

Stories in Jiwarli 12

Today’s post presents a personal reminiscence story in Jiwarli with English translation, told and explained to me by Jack Butler on 18th May 1985. There is information about the Jiwarli spelling here.

The Earthquake

This story comes from when Jack and his younger brother Joe were children travelling with their mother and step-father along the Henry River in Jiwarli traditional territory. It describes an occasion when there was a loud noise, trees and the earth shook, and water, together with the fish in it, was thrown out of the waterholes in the river. At the time, no-one knew what had happened, and Jack found out later that it had been an earthquake.

According to information from the Seismology Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, a major earthquake (of approximate magnitude 7.5-8 on the Richter scale) took place at 07:18 GMT on 19 November 1906. The earthquake was centred at 22° S and 109° E, which is off the North-West Cape of Western Australia. Jack’s story takes place at marndaangu, Mundong Well (see map), which is located at approximately 23° S and 115° E. Jack described the earthquake as coming from the north and heading east — this fits well with advancing shock waves from a point off North-West Cape. A date of 1906 also matches Jack’s description, as he and his brother are being carried by their parents, though Jack is described as a ‘little bigger’, suggesting that he was able to walk. In 1906, Jack would have been five and his brother Joe was three. A date in late spring or early summer is also suggested by the fact that the family were travelling, there was water in the waterholes, and there were jalgunungu (bardy grubs, Trictena atripalpis) in the river gum trees. It seems highly likely then that this story is an eye-witness account of the 1906 earthquake, recalled almost eighty years later.

Apart from its historical interest as a first-hand account of an early Aboriginal experience of an earthquake, the story is also interesting for what it tells us about the daily life of the people at that time. The country of the Jiwarli was occupied by white settlers starting in the 1860s; Glen Florrie Station (mimburn), where Jack spent much of his early life, was established in the 1880s. Aboriginal people were conscripted into the pastoral industry as labourers, but they seem to have maintained much of their traditional lifestyle outside the demands of the white economy. Apart from the presence of a buri, an introduced European metal axe, the story describes a purely traditional journey. Other descriptions of his childhood from Jack support this. It was not until the 1920s, when Aboriginal people were rounded up and forced into the pearling industry, that the traditional cultural and social system was irreparably disrupted. Jack was unable to be initiated because ‘the whites had buggered it’, although he did repay the debt in the traditional manner to the man who would have initiated him if the ceremonies had not ended.

Bibijungarla babujungarla mimburnbarndi yananyja gardawurru gawarilari ngurndayi yarrgiyala jirlirra baba ngurndiniya jirlirra. Jumagudharra ngalijunha jimbinggalgurniya. Ngadhadhu barngamurdurru. Ngurndayi ngurnubarndibadhu mirninggadhumirdulyula yardingga. Mundurru yanararri warlbari yardinggamanda garlgaranydha ngunhi marndaanguwagarala yardingga. Nhanyanyja ngalijuru jumagudharralu gurrurdula yinha nyirlbu biji gurrurdula. Babujudhu ngadhala wanggaja. Ngadha gurlalga. Ngunha bayalbandhurru gurlarninyja ngunhiba wurungga burijaga jinyjiyi wandharnu jalgununguwungurnu nyirlbuwu. Jalgunungu ngunha yinidhu nyirlbu. Gumbirarri jalgujaga manangu wiinggarnu. Barrundhu babuju wanggaja yirraradhu. Gurlgayinha nhaanha ngulha bunarni yaburru. Nhugurru bunarni nhaanha. Nhaanha ngulhadhu. Nhuguwirlarrinyja ngunha. Barrundhu ngunha wuru wardawardarrinyjarru. Babuju ngunha julyu gurrgabarninyja yalhanggarru ngaliju jumagudharra ngadhiiniyarru yugarringu wardawardarriyarru wardawardalgurniyalarru. Gurlgayilgarringu barlunyjarrirru wiliwilirriyayirraranguru barlunguru. Gumbirarri ngurnuba gurlgayirnu buniya ngula wardandarirru ngunhaba. Nhaanha ngulha. Nganggarnuburra ngurrunyjarri. Baba ngunha ngurndiniya juma. Ngunhaba yananyja ngula wardandarirru. Nhanyararri babangga. Babadhu ngunha ngularru jugurninyja. Wardawardarrinyja ngunha yalhadhu. Nhanyararri bunyjinyjarrinha. Ngunhirru ngurndinha yaribirlila barlgarralarru.

Translation

My mother and father went directly west from mimburn Glen Florrie Station to camp at Yarrgiya claypan where there was water. They were carrying us two children on their backs. I was a little bigger then. After that we stayed at Mirni on the Henry River. In the morning we went south along the river to the fork there at Marndaangu. We two children saw lots of bardy grubs in the gum trees. My father said to me: “I’ll climb up”. Then he climbed up there in the tree, cutting steps with an axe, to collect the jalgunungu grubs. Jalkunungu is the name of that grub. He was getting them with a hook and pulling them out. Then my father called out from above: “I can hear something coming in the north. Something is getting close”. We didn’t know what it was. It got close, and then the tree shook. My poor old father jumped down to the ground as we two children stood crying, and the ground was shaking and we were being shaken. We heard rocks rolling down from the hill up above. We sat listening to it going towards the east. We didn’t know what it was. The old people didn’t know then. A little water was lying there in the river. That thing went east now. We looked in the waterhole, and the water had been thrown out there. The ground had been shaken. We saw the bunyji fish that were lying out on the river sand in the open.

 

Stories in Jiwarli 11

Today’s post presents a personal reminiscence story in Jiwarli with English translation, told and explained to me by Jack Butler on 21st May 1984. There is information about the Jiwarli spelling here.

Jirriwiny and the Rock Python

This story comes from when Jack Butler was living on Rocklea Station in Western Australia, probably in the 1930s. It concerns a man called Jirriwiny who was out hunting one day and saw the tail of a non-venemous snake, which Jack called Rock Python (probably Stimson’s python (Antaresia stimsoni) which is found in this area), sticking out from a cave. Jirriwiny pulled on the snake but it pulled back, so he bit the tail of the snake, which turned around, and he was able to grab it’s neck to kill it.

 

Stimson’s python

Yagarabaju ngunhaba birrbilyanggurawu. Wiinggarninyja nguluba walhungga. Wiingganmararnigundidhu. Nguluba birrbilyangguralu ngabaju wiinggarninyjarru yurrurru walhurla. Nguluba gundhardirru bajarninyja. Nhanyararri barna ngunhiba banhalurarru. Nguluba mamarninyjarni wurrgalbarru gubiyalgarringu wirndubinyangurru.

Translation

He was truly brave with rock pythons. He was pulling one out that was in a cave. It was just like he might have pulled it out, but the rock python almost pulled him into the cave in turn. So, he bit the tail of the rock python, and it turned around. You could see the head of the snake right there next to him. Then he grabbed the snake’s neck to strangle it, killing it.