Lavishly illustrated by Tasmanian Aboriginal students, these six Tasmanian Aboriginal Dreaming stories tell of the ancestor spirits who created the land and everything that lives on it. Dromerdine and Moihernine are powerful creator deities, brothers who are sometimes at loggerheads with each other. Traditional stories, 'Taraba, The Tasmanian Devil', 'Toorittya, The Wattle Bird', 'Oonah, The Platypus', 'Luina, The Blue Wren', 'Publedina, The Wombat', and 'Koonya, The Black Swans' embrace camouflage, trickery, as well as the battles of night and day, all monitored by the ancestor spirits. Animals are rewarded or punished for their good or bad behaviour, and transformed accordingly.
Taraba was once a beautiful animal, with the shape of a small dog, but not very clever and often unkind, as he often hunted baby animals. One night he is caught and paralysed by the powerful stares of the Spirit helpers who gradually transform his appearance and voice into the repulsive Tasmanian Devil. Torittya the wattle bird is similarly punished for his greediness, bound to wear the yellow streamers on his face for gobbling all the gum tree flowers.
The great spirit Moihernee also punished bad behaviour and created a helper, Rageorapper, who dealt out dreadful punishments. Rageorapper’s mistakes result in Oonah, the platypus, being hastily reconstructed from various animals.
In the ancient Spirit world Moihernee and Dromerdeene had a serious quarrel. On his first visit to earth to reconcile with his brother the gentle Dromerdeene is set upon by Moihernee’s fearsome Spirit beasts. After Luina, a tiny grey bird, rescues him, Dromerdeene transforms the little creature into a beautiful blue wren.
In the story of 'Publedina, the Wombat', Moihernee intervenes and forces the tormenting hunters to apologise to Drogerdy, who thereby give him the name Publedina. The final story 'Koonya' tells how Moihernee creates another helper, Rala, to counter Rageorapper’s cruelty. When Rageorapper lures a giant whale and a baby whale upstream, the giant whale drowns in the shallow muddy creek. Rageorapper and Rala witness big black birds taking shape from the dying whale’s spout. These beautiful black swans rescue the baby whale, 'honking sadly' as they fly away, leaving Rala to look after the animal community.
Rosemary Ransom is the reteller of these stories originally recounted by Aboriginal people in the 1830s, recorded by the Cotton family. Fully acknowledging the stories as belonging to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people in 1979, Jackson Cotton published these stories in Touch the Morning. Whilst the stories cannot be specifically attributed to a particular Aboriginal group, ‘Aboriginal languages used are those heard by the Cotton family and are from different locations throughout Tasmania’. Tasmanian Aboriginal community members approved of Ransom’s retelling. The lively illustrations in various media, coloured pencil, acrylic and water colour, were created by Tasmanian Aboriginal students from Kingston, Cosgrove and Rothby High Schools, Lauderdale and Margate Primary schools and Homework Centres.