Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Giant emu in the Dreamtime

The Wotjobaluk tribe of western Victoria had a Dreamtime story of a giant emu. Ngindyal (or Tchingal) was a giant sorceress who had the shape and feathers of a giant emu, who was said to have killed and eaten many people. In her large nest at Wambagruk she laid a single enormous egg. One day a crow disturbed her and she got up and chased him. He slipped into a gap in the side of a mountain but Ngindgal split the rock with a powerful kick. The crack she made is now called Rose's Gap. As the crow ran from mountain to mountain she kept cracking the rock with her powerful kick until he reached his spirit waters were she could not follow, so she went back to her nest.

The crow met the Bram-bam-bult brothers near Jeparit and told them how he had escaped the Ngindual. They wanted to avenge the deaths of many of their people that she had eaten so they asked the crow to show them where she was. Eventually they saw a bright star that the crow said was her eye as she sat on her nest.

When they came near they encircled her, the younger brother standing in front of her and when she leapt up to attack him the elder brother threw his spear, hitting her in the breast, on which the younger brother threw his spears. Eventually she lost so much blood that she was weakened and ran off in the direction of the Horsham Plain. When the lark, Witygurk, saw her approaching pursued by the Bram-bam-bult brother he took a bough to conceal himself and when she was in range he threw his spear hitting her in the chest. This final spear killed her.

The brothers then split all her feathers down the middle, piling one half on the left and the other on the right. One pile of feathers was converted into a cock emu and the other into a hen, and their magic also changed Ngindyal's habit of laying only one egg so that emus now lay many. All emus now have double feathers, each having 2 independent shafts.

The people then gathered at Wambagruk to collect Ngindyal's egg, but none could lift it. When Babim'bal the wattle-bird came he put it in his bag and carried it to the Horsham Plain where it was cooked and the people feasted on it. According to the story the nest can still be seen at Wambagruk.

Ngindyal is now the black patch in the Southern Cross and the crow is Argus, still some distance from his pursuer.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Jennifer Isaacs, Australia Dreaming: 40,000 years of Aboriginal History, New Holland Publishers, 2005
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated  26/01/2010


Dreamtime megafauna

Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading