The stories in this book are told by Aboriginal people from different regions of Australia: Stradbroke Island off the coast of Queensland, the Gold Coast area and Tasmania. A map of Australia showing the location of the storytellers is included at the beginning of the collection.
In the Introduction, Oodgeroo, born Kathleen Ruska and later known as Kath Walker, who belonged to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), explains that she prefers to use the term ‘Legends’ when relating stories. In this book, Oodgeroo relates the story of the Noonuccal and Nughie tribes. This story tells how smallpox killed many of the people and how Wanderoo the fire maker responded to the Nughie.
The Kombumerri people belong to the country that is now known as the Gold Coast. Ginny Graham told the ‘Nerang River Love Story’ to her granddaughter Hilma Blundell when she was 11 or 12. This was the proper sort of story for a girl to be told at the time she was becoming a woman, and describes the actions behind the creation of the blue flowering waterlilies.
The other Kombumerri story ‘Gwondo the Dolphin’ was ‘recorded by white people many years ago’.
From Tasmania there are three stories: ‘The Fish Spirit’, ‘Ballawinne (Red Ochre’) and ‘Kuti Kina’. Jim Everett of the Plangermairreener people of Eastern Tasmania cleverly begins each one as conversations with children, where stories are re-told. There is an explanation why Tasmanian Aboriginal people stopped eating scale fish; how ochre came to be located in several places across the island; and a story about Kuti Kina, the protector of special places. This latter telling also refers to muttonbirds, a food resource of Tasmanian Aboriginal people for more than 12 000 years
What is particularly valuable about this book and its companion ‘Legends of Our Land’ is the text that accompanies photographs. An example of this is on page 52: ‘This stencil of a hand is in Ballawinne Cave on the Maxwell River in south-western Tasmania. It was made by spitting ochre against the wall of the cave with the hand held against it. It is at least 10 000 years old’.
The Nunukul, also spelt Noonuccal and known also as Moondjan, are an Aboriginal Australian people, one of three Quandamooka peoples, who traditionally live on the northern portion of Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island in the area of Amity Point, Queensland.
– language group of Tasmania belonging to the land midway down the east coast of Tasmania
Kombumerri - The Kombumerri people live on the land on the Gold Coast that stretches from the coast surrounding Burleigh Heads into the surrounding hinterland. It includes beaches, rainforests, creeks and rivers rich with animals and marine life. The Kombumerri people belong to the Yugambeh language group and speak Yugambeh.
NB: The word ‘tribe’ is used throughout, but is not a word used today.
Series : More legends of our land