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3.2 The sky and the Dreaming

<p>Gulaga (Mount Dromedary) from Bermagui shoreline, New South Wales</p>

National Museum of Australia

<p>Gulaga (Mount Dromedary) from Bermagui shoreline, New South Wales</p>

Many cultures interpret the stars for navigation and calculating time. The shapes and movement of celestial bodies make their way into important cultural stories. Listen to the Aboriginal Dreaming story Toonku and Ngyardi, about the sky and celestial bodies, or read the story below.

Toonku and Ngyardi

In the Dreamtime, Mirial the creator, created the first man and first woman from the dust, Toonku and Ngyardi, and he gave them both a stick and a stone to make things with, and to create the landscape.

So, with the stick and the stone, Toonku went off and he made lots of implements and tools to use to survive, spears, axes and digging sticks, and Ngyardi, with her stick, she made a digging stick and then she went around and she started carving out the landscape and part of her job was to also name the birds and the animals, and find out the uses for the different plants. Whilst she went off in one direction doing her thing, Toonku was doing his thing and making stuff, and halfway through the day he got really cranky because he had so much work to do, and then he looked up at Mirial with his spear in his hand, and he was shaking his spear and he goes, ‘Why do you give us so much work to do with just a stick and the stone?’ and he got his spear and he chucked it up in the sky at Mirial. And Mirial grabbed that spear and he bent it over his leg and he sent it back down to earth and he said, ‘Now, as punishment’, he said, ‘You will come back up into the sky and live with me’, and he turned Toonku into the moon.

Now, all of this had happened, Ngyardi was oblivious to it ... because she was just off doing her thing and then, as it started getting dark, she came back and was looking for her husband and couldn’t find him anywhere. So, she started singing out his name, ‘Toonku! Toonku!’ couldn’t find him anywhere and when she looked out past Barranguba, Najanuga, she’s seeing coming up from the landscape, this great big round moon, and in the moon was the face of Toonku.

So, she started following the moon, trying to grab him down, her husband, and pull him back down to earth, but he kept rising higher and higher into the sky and so, she climbed Gulaga Mountain to get closer and closer to her husband and she’d just got to the top and almost within reach of him, but he just kept rising higher into the sky. She couldn’t grab her husband back down to earth and so, she just laid down on the top of Gulaga Mountain and she cried and she cried, and she cried. That’s the creation story.

Cheryl Davison, Yuin/Walbunja


1. What was Toonku’s mistake?

2. What was Toonku’s punishment?

3. What can this story help you remember to do?

<p>Map of Australia showing Yuin people’s land</p>

Eliane Touma

<p>Map of Australia showing Yuin people’s land</p>

4. The Yuin/Walbunja Aboriginal clans, where this Dreaming story comes from, live in the orange shaded area on the map. Which part of Australia is this in?

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