Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5). Possibly an extension Year 9 class.
Aboriginality, Australia, Australian identity, Christianity, Indigenous, Myths and Legends
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Intercultural understanding, Literacy
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Sustainability
Originally written in the 1920s by David Unaipon. The original work was edited by W. Ramsay Smith and published in 1930 credited to W. Ramsay Smith as Myths & Legends of the Australian Aboriginals, without acknowledgement of Unaipon's authorship. Shoemaker and Muecke republished it in 2001 under Unaipon's name and original title.
AustLit uses the original Unaipon title as the main title showing Ramsay Smith's title as an alternative title on those editions published prior to the restitution edition.
'This is a story belonging to the Murrumbidgee River tribe, and they associate this locality as the first settled home of the Gherawhar (Goanna...) after leaving their temporary home at Shoalhaven, and before...to other parts of Australia. When they occupied this country there was no flowing Murrumbidgee River. The only river then was the... which was formed by the ancient Pendie, a fish commonly called the Murray Cod.' (David Unaipon, 1924-25)
Benjamin Miller describes this story in the following way: 'a creation story about a Water Spirit who desires to enter the material world. A Lyre Bird, who is adept at singing the songs of other animals, is asked by a spirit to sing into a stream. After much beautiful singing a Being emerges from the water. The Lyre Bird names the Being "Gool lun naga, a son of the clear running stream of water"'.
Source: Benjamin Miller, 'David Unaipon's Style of Subversion: Performativity and Becoming in "Gool Lun Naga (Green Frog)"', JASAL Special Issue (2008):84.
The author talks about the hunting practices of the Australian Aboriginals.
A story about the tortoise and his conflict with the Eaglehawk.
The author talks about the how the Australian Aboriginals have a legend that explains natural phenomena.
The story of two sisters who fall in love with the same boy.
The story of a man called The Mar Kar Ree and his trail of looking for a wife.
The author talks about the customs,rituals, and laws of marriage between men and women in Australian Aboriginal societies.
In a comparison to the biblical stories of the forces of good and evil, the author presents this story of crow from the Narrinyur people, an Aboriginal representation of good and evil which has played an important part in their traditions and legends.
'Narroondarie is the name of one of the many good men that were sent among the various tribes of the Australian Aborigines...' (David Unaipon, 1924-25)
'David Unaipon’s Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines is part of the classical culture of Australia. The collection is as varied in subject as it is ambitious in scope, ranging from ethnographic essays on sport, hunting, fishing and witchcraft to the legends of ancestral beings who transformed the landscape in the Dreaming. The stories are unified by the voice of Unaipon, Australia’s first Indigenous author, whose familiar face now adorns the fifty dollar note.' (Introduction)