Bundarra & Djeri Djeri


Bundarra & Djeri Djeri

Bundarra (kangaroo) and Djeri Djeri (Willie Wagtail) when they were in human form (why the Willy Wagtail has white patches on his body).

“Away back in the Dreamtime, when all the birds and animals were men and women, there was a big Murri (Black man) camp on the Gwydir River, on the edge of town. They were a very happy people for there were plenty fish in the river, and plenty of mussels, plenty goobyis (Wild yams), plenty bumbil (wild oranges), plenty everything.

There was one man who wasn’t happy though because he was jealous. This Murri Dthool (Aboriginal man) named Bundarra (Kangaroo) was very jealous of Djeri Djeri (Willie Wagtail). The reason, well, Djeri Djeri was blacker than he was. Why! even on a dark rainy night you could see his shadow and the whites of his eyes were black. Not only this, but even though he was not yet initiated into manhood he was far better at doing things than Bundarra. The warriors praised him, saying that he would one day be a very great warrior, and the young women were seen to look at Djeri Djeri with a certain amount of interest, and this made Bundarra all the more jealous.

One day, just before the young boys who were to be put through the Bora (initiation ceremony) Djeri Djeri approached Bundarra, who never ever made the mistake of saying how much he hated him, asking Bundarra what he was required to do to become a man.

Now Bundarra was a Wirringhan (Cleverman) and played a very important part in the initiation ceremonies so he saw his chance of getting rid of Djeri Djeri once and for all so he said, “Come with me”. He took him to one of the largest trees by a big billabong (waterhole) and said, “Now you climb up to the top of that tree and when I tell you, you must jump right down into the water.”

As Djeri Djeri climbed from limb to limb he used to ask if he was high enough, but was told to go higher until at last he was at the very top of the tree and everybody seemed to be so very small and he was frightened but wanted to be a man so bad he was ready to do whatever Bundarra told him to do.

So, when Bundarra said “Jump” Djeri Djeri shut his eyes and jumped. Down, down he fell, over and over he turned until he struck the water with a great splash splitting his chest open and went down out of sight. Everybody watched and waited for him to come up again, but all that came out of the billabong was a miserable little black bird with white markings on his breast and very wet and cold. He fluttered off into the bush and when he was dry he returned to the camp only to hear someone ask, “Who is this little Murri Dthool.” To which Djeri Djeri replied that he was Djeri Djeri, at which they all laughed.

Djeri Djeri still insisted that he was, who he was, and is still insisting today where-ever you see him. Of course, nobody believes him because they all know that Djeri Djeri is the blackest black in the whole world.”