The Deception of Gooloo Magpie A Cautionary Tribal Tale

Gooloo the Magpie and the Wahroogahs

Gooloo the Magpie and the Wahroogahs

In the haunting Indigenous tale of ‘Gooloo the Magpie and the Wahroogahs’ explore trust, betrayal, and the harsh consequences that follow. This traditional story from Australian Indigenous folklore serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the perils of misplaced trust within a community. It narrates the story of Gooloo, a seemingly wise old woman, who betrays the trust of her neighboring tribe by kidnapping their children, the wahroogahs, leaving a permanent scar of sorrow and loss. Through the lens of folklore, explore complex themes of vigilance, deceit, and the enduring pain of lost innocence.

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.

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Betrayal in the Bush: The Tale of Gooloo and the Lost Wahroogahs

Gooloo, a wicked old woman, had spent the past season gathering and crushing doonburr seeds into meal for food, using a large flat stone called a dayoorl. She stored some of the meal for immediate use and kept the rest whole for future grinding.

One day, a neighboring tribe set up camp nearby. When the men went out hunting, leaving the women and children behind, Gooloo saw an opportunity. She approached the women and convinced them to go foraging, promising to care for their children, the little wahroogahs (children).

“Why sit here and hunger when the land is full of wurranunnahs’ (wild bees) nests dripping with honey, ripe bumbles (wild orange or wild pomegranate) on the humble trees, and guiebets (a thorny creeper) bursting with fruit? Go, fill your comebees (bags made of kangaroo skins) and goolays while I watch over your little ones,” Gooloo urged.

The women agreed, but insisted on taking their wahroogahs along. Gooloo quickly dissuaded them, arguing that the children’s small feet would tire and slow them down. “Leave them with me,” she said. “I have a durrie (bread made from grass seed) made of fresh doonburr seed cooking on the bark; they shall eat their fill before you’re out of sight. Then you can gather more and return to prepare the meal when your husbands bring home the hunt.”

Enticed by Gooloo’s words, the mothers left their wahroogahs in her care and ventured out with empty comebees, combos (stone tomahawks) for chopping bees’ nests and opossums, and yam sticks for digging.

Once alone with the wahroogahs, Gooloo fed them durrie, honey, and bumbles until they were satisfied. Then she hurried them away to her real home in a hollow tree, where she secured them inside. The wahroogahs, missing their mothers, began to cry.

The women, returning with their spoils, heard their wahroogahs’ wails and quickened their pace, eager to comfort them. But when they arrived at the camp, the children and Gooloo were nowhere to be found. The mothers searched frantically, calling out to their wahroogahs and the magpie, but to no avail. The sounds of distressed children echoed in the distance, yet they could not locate them.

When the men returned from the hunt, the women relayed Gooloo’s treachery through tears and heavy hearts. Enraged, the men berated the women for their foolishness and ventured into the bush to search for the lost wahroogahs. But like the mothers, they found no trace of the children, only the haunting sound of their cries.

The women spent days in the camp, mourning their missing wahroogahs and lamenting their trust in the deceitful Gooloo. The children’s wailing echoed eternally in their ears, a painful reminder of the magpie’s betrayal and the consequences of their misplaced trust. The tribe’s heart grew heavy with the weight of the wahroogahs’ loss, forever haunted by the magpie’s wickedness.

Adapted from Australian Legendary Tales. Buy the eBook