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Yuwaalaraay and English.
the Narran story
The Narran Lake story is recorded in a number of places, including this version by Arthur Dodd on Tape 5052. Another version occurs as 'The Beginning of Narran Lake' in Australian Legendary Tales. In the Australian Legendary Tales version the characters are named as Baayami and his two wives — Birrangulu and Ganhanbili — and two Garriya, crocodiles. Other versions of the story have one Garriya. The story begins on the Narran River, near Angledool, and it refers to features of the country along the river to Narran lake, features such as waterholes and a long ridge. The Yuwaalaraay story as we now have it has a number of gaps and can be difficult to follow.
It is likely that there was a much longer version of this story, with sections referring to many specific features along the river. Sim, (Yuwaalayaay:
Language of the Narran River, p 42) says that the ability to give an accurate list of geographical features was greatly admired; for instance listing the names of the places along the Narran River from the beginning of the story to the Lake. Many names are recorded for places along the River.
Crocodiles seem out of place in a story set in north-western New South Wales, but archeologists at Cuddy Springs (relatively close to Narran Lake) have found many megafauna fossils, including crocodile teeth.
Two versions of the story in English are reproduced below.
Narran Lake and Narran River
This fellow [a crocodile] grabbed another fellow's two wives.
Then he took off downstream.
He caught them [the two women], he was also carrying the water downstream. [At some stage the version changes, and there are two crocodiles.]
They [the crocodiles] were swimming there, at Narran Lake.
Then he [Baayami] saw the two of them far off in the distance.
"I will catch them,
And I will pelt them with my birran.gaa. [Here the story changes from a narrative and Baayami describes his own actions.]
I hit them on the head!
I will take them now.
I will take my two wives out of them, and I will take them back over there.
I will lie them down there, on the ant[bed]."
And when they got better [heads got better] I took them back home, the two of them, my wives.
The water there is now bad, poisoned. [Here Arthur Dodd is describing a pool at Narran Lake, the pool where Baayami washed his wives.]
No-one, nothing will drink the water there because they will die.
A second (English) version
The Yuwaalaraay version by Arthur Dodd only translates some sections of his English version, and so can seem disjointed. A second version by Arthur Dodd (in English, transcribed by Ian Sim) is reproduced below.
This fellow, he was God, he was out hunting on he own, and there was . . . he tried to get emu, or kangaroo, or anything, possum, no good, or honey, bees' nest.
No couldn’t, he couldn’t find nothing, couldn’t get nothing, that day,
couldn’t get nothing.
He’s thinking, “There’s something wrong”.
He was out there, busy for half the day.
Anyway he come back without it.
There was a tree like that, say that was the river, with a fork like that,
it fell down, a big log.
Anyhow he had two gin, well they both pulled their clothes off and left it there and they go down this log and took a header in, that’s the last of them, they disappeared, they call it a garriya, that’s the bunyip,
soon as they hit the water, them two garriya swallowed them, and that’s why he couldn’t get nothing, couldn’t find nothing, and when he come back and had a look there and seen no water there,these garriya took the water with them, just a yarn, but it turned out all right,
took the water with them, and run along, he’s running along about half a mile, or sometimes a mile, and he was running in to have a look.
Any water in that river? No.
And come out again, run out again,
see, when he ran out again and ran straight along the top and straight in, down to have a look; any more water? no water! - that’s what made that ridge, (murilla), that ridge grow like that,
all the way like that, leading down to the Narran Lake.
And when he got to the Narran Lake himself, and two of them were swimming about, floating about, these two big garriyas,
so he got this boomerang and he pelted them, knocked their head off,
and he got hold of the two, that blooming thing and he pulled them out,
on to the bank, and he pulled the two womans out, out of the inside, and put them on the ant bed, big ant bed,
when he put them on the ant bed for the ants to eat that slime and everything off.
He washed them first in a little basin and then put them on the ant bed,
anyrate you see the basin there, you see the antbed there, and you’ll see where he keeps coming to the river and out from the river, in and out, in and out, where he; it lays out well you know,
and down there, where he finished up, he got the two gins, and he ?took them up, and when that basin get full of water, nothing can drink it, they get poisoned.
A pig come along and have a, feed,
I seen a lot of fat pigs, I worked on that station, seen a lot fat pigs there all dead, just dying, drinking that water, wild pigs.
And I took my horse up there to see if he would drink it - no. He just smelled that and turned his head away, wouldn’t drink it.