A wicked old woman goes to a camp while the men are hunting and tells the women that there is lots of honey nearby. She says she will look after the children while the women go and collect it. When they are gone, the old woman lures the children into a hollow tree with her delicious cakes and then won't let them go.
The adults of the camp search for the children for days without success, until the kind goanna takes pity on them and uses his magic to free the children. All the children escape except one, who is crushed under the old woman as she falls in the melee. That night, as the old woman sleeps, she is changed into a magpie and flies out through the top of the tree. According to the story 'ever since that time, she has had no love for children, and that is the reason she flies at them every time they come near the tree where she had built her nest.' Further, many Aborigines believe they can hear echoes of the wailing of the lost child in the bush at night.