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The Flame’s Legacy The Tale of Bootoolgah and Goonur

Bootoolgah the Crane and Goonur the Kangaroo Rat

Discovery and Deception How Fire Came to the Tribes

Australian Indigenous mythology tells us how Bootoolgah the crane and Goonur the kangaroo rat first discovered fire, transforming their tribe’s culinary practices from sun-dried to flame-cooked meals. The story is a profound exploration of ingenuity, secrecy, and community, highlighting the pivotal moment when a private discovery turns into a communal treasure. Through vivid descriptions and dynamic characters, the tale examines themes of trust, betrayal, and the democratization of a powerful new tool among ancient Australian tribes.

Australian Legendary Tales

Anthology of 31 folklore stories from the Noongahburrah tribe of New South Wales

  • Will educate and fascinate readers across a broad spectrum of ages.
  • Cultural heritage of Indigenous Australians from the late 19th century.

Purchase your eBook copy of Australian Legendary Tales and start exploring these enchanting stories wherever you are. Buy now and begin your journey through Australia’s rich indigenous heritage.

Bootoolgah the Crane and Goonur the Kangaroo Rat

Long ago, when Bootoolgah the crane married Goonur the kangaroo rat, their people had no fire. Food was eaten raw or sun-dried. One day, while rubbing two sticks together, Bootoolgah noticed a faint spark and smoke. He said to Goonur,

“Imagine if we could make fire to cook our food instead of waiting for the sun to dry it!”

Goonur, seeing the potential, advised Bootoolgah to split the stick and fill it with bark and grass to kindle the spark. Following her wisdom, Bootoolgah did so, and after much effort, a small flame emerged. They had discovered the secret of fire.

They agreed to keep their knowledge hidden, making fires in the Bingahwingul scrub to cook fish and hiding their firesticks in the Bingahwingul seeds and their comebee (bag made of kangaroo skin).

The deliciously cooked fish caught the attention of the tribe, who were told it was merely sun-dried. Suspicious, they sent Boolooral the owl and Quarrian the parrot to spy on the couple. The birds discovered the truth and reported back to the tribe, who grew determined to steal the firestick.

A grand corrobboree (dance) was planned to distract the fire makers, with Beeargah the hawk feigning illness to lie in wait and steal the comebee. Tribes from all around were invited, each trying to outshine the others with their vibrant body paint. The Beeleer (black cockatoos), Millears (kangaroo rats), Buckandeer (native cats), Mairas (paddymelons), Bralgahs (birds), and many others arrived in a stunning display of colour and artistry.

As the corrobboree commenced, Bootoolgah and Goonur watched, enthralled, with Goonur forgetting to guard the comebee. Bootoolgah, noticing her lapse, replaced it and warned her to be careful, foiling Beeargah’s first attempt.

The Bralgahs’ turn to dance arrived, and their comical, energetic performance captivated the audience. Amidst the laughter and excitement, Goonur let the comebee slip once more. Seizing his chance, Beeargah snatched the comebee, cut it open, grabbed the firestick, and lit the waiting grass before the fire makers even noticed.

Bootoolgah chased after Beeargah, but the hawk was too swift. As he ran, Beeargah spread fire throughout the bush. Realizing the pursuit was futile and the secret of fire had become common knowledge, Bootoolgah conceded defeat, and the art of fire making was thus shared among all the tribes.

Adapted from Australian Legendary Tales. Buy the eBook

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