wiruungga | painting.stories - naturescape

BAT TALES

by Wiruungga Dunggirr

THE UPSIDE-DOWN CREATURES

We know from the tales told by our ancestors that once the goannas lived together with the fruit bats in a hut.

One day the lizard set out to make friends with the humans, but he didn't find any. In order not to appear ridiculous, he called to the fruit bats while returning home: "Look how many spears the humans have given me!"  That made the fruit bats afraid, and they wouldn't let the lizard back into the hut.

The next day they made up again, but while the fruit bats were out the lizard scattered an enormous number of hairy caterpillars on their sleeping place on the floor in order to avenge themselves. So when the fruit bats returned and alighted on the ground the hair on the caterpillars burned and scratched them so badly they became sore all over and could no longer sit down.

Since that day they prefer to hang from branches, and have never come back to the ground.


BALAWIRR (l), MOMMA & SHY (c), KATIE (r) 

' Balawirr' is your brother. Get closer and learn more about him, for he is your totem, he is you. Respect and protect him ... and he will respect and protect you and all Gumbaynggir people.

To find Balawirr there he reminded me of my elder grandfather down my way ... he's the wise one.

And when I found Momma and Shy ... exactly the same as my children cause Aboriginal children are very shy and hide behind their mothers skirt. And he was doing the same thing, hiding behind his mothers wing.

Katie was just saying, "doesn't anyone want to look at me?". So she was just that nice and quiet I just wanted to paint her.

So I painted all four of them and that got me closer to the colony.


NIGHT & DAY

Another Dreamtime story attributes the fruit bats not only with the division of time into day and night, but also with power over light. 

In former times the fruit bats divided time into day and night. When the enormous flock of fruit bats rise up into the sky and hide the sun ... that is the night. And only once they disappear again from the sky and alight on the ground ... only then is it once more day.

It is told that the animals that inhabited the ground cast the earth into darkness by their wickedness and the blackness of their hearts.

But the fruit bats were eventually able to bring the life-bringing sunlight back to the earth.


THE YOUNG HUNTER'S LESSON

A young Aborigine went hunting a goanna with spear. But every time he got close the goanna would move further away. So he kept stalking him until the young hunter found himself a long way from his territory.

Another tribe, also hunting, ran into the young man & wanted to spear him. He had ventured too far & was in a dangerous situation. He didn't know what to do, until the goanna turned & looked at him.

Suddenly a black cloud approached from the horizon and thousands of fruit bats arrived & quickly blackened the sky.

It was his Dreaming ... the fruit bats had saved him by scaring the enemies away. It was the goanna’s warning never to do the same again.


WIRUUNGGA'S 'WINGS OF THE NIGHT'  JOURNEY

top.left:                   Brisbane city

top.centre :             'Young Hunter' story

top.right:                 Ipswich suburbs 

mid.left :              'Young Hunter'story

mid.centre:              Black Bats camp

mid.right:                Grey-headed Bats camp 

bottom.left:              Indooroopilly colony

bottom.centre:        (orange dots)  Wiruungga's camp

                               (white dots) Little Red Bats camp

                               (serpent)  Bremmer River

bottom.right :          Bremmer River Bridge


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