Aboriginal Australian Origin Stories & Big History School

Aboriginal Australian Origin Stories & Big History School

Aboriginal Australian Origin Stories & Big History School

Boobera Lagoon- Gamileroi Country, Issue 12, Threshold 9

Aboriginal Australian Origin Stories & Big History School

In support of the Macquarie University Indigenous Strategy 2016 - 2025 the Big History Institute, Widening Participation Unit and Walanga Muru (Macquarie University Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students engagement and strategy office) are partnering in the 'Big History School Aboriginal Australian Origin Story Project'.

This project will develop a library of Aboriginal Australian origin stories, as told by Aboriginal Australian elders, for inclusion in Big History School courses and Macquarie University teaching units. This is a unique opportunity to give Australian students from primary school through to university a chance to deepen their understanding of Aboriginal Australian histories, cultures, traditions and holistic world views.

This project is built on an understanding that Aboriginal Australian peoples have diverse and distinct cultures within the Australian context, each with a diversity of experiences, languages, cultural practices and spiritual belief systems. Creating a library of Aboriginal Australian origin stories is an attempt to reflect the diversity of Aboriginal experience to students at all levels.

Phil Duncan, Aboriginal Cultural Training Coordinator in Walanga Maru from Gamilaroi country is one of the elders who shares his song line in Big History School.

"Garriya" - Long ago, the Garriya terrorised the local people around Boobera Lagoon. Garriya had travelled down to the Boobera Lagoon from up near Yetman, his tracks making the watercourses past Toomelah. Garriya prevented the people from hunting and gathering food. No-one could paddle a canoe, or even fish from the bank, because Garriya had developed a taste for human flesh.

The people asked Dhulala to attempt to kill Garriya so that they could live and hunt in peace. Dhulala was a Headman of Noona on the Barwon and was known as a great warrior. Dhulala went to the lagoon early one morning and stood on the bank, peering through the mists for Garriya. After some time he saw a ripple on the water, then Garriya's dark shape emerged from a hole, his fiery eyes glaring.

Dhulala hurled his spear but it only glanced of Garriya's skin. He threw several spears and clubs with all his force, but they had no effect on Garriya. He took up another, and then another and kept throwing spears till he had no more. Garriya charged Dhulala, mouth open and fangs flashing. Dhulala fled across the plain with Garriya sliding after him. Garriay gave chase, the earth piling up against his chest, like the bow-wave before a canoe, winding about like a huge snake and travelling at great pace.

In the distance Dhulala caught sight of a Bambul tree, the mother-in-law of Garriya and the only living thing that Garriya feared. Reaching the tree with Garriya still hard on his heals, Dhulala threw himself at it and clung to its trunk. When Garriya saw that Dhulala had reached the Bambul tree, he skidded to a halt and returned to the lagoon along the channels he had made. The channels which he had carved in the land in pursuit of Dhulala remained, empty in the dry times and filling up with water when it rained.

Today the Garriya is still in Boobera Lagoon. Local Aboriginal people still keep the law that no-one should go into the lagoon or stay close to the banks after sundown."

The initial phase of the project will produce 6 Aboriginal Australian origin stories representing a range of Indigenous nations and language groups across NSW. Over time this library will grow to include stories from Aboriginal nations and elders in WA and across Australia. Respecting the tradition for many Aboriginal nations to pass on their cultural knowledge orally, the origin stories will be spoken by Aboriginal elders and accompanied by video or audio transcripts.

Phil Duncan MQ

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