Nharangga believe that the actions of Ancestral Beings created the features and characteristics of the landscape we see today. The two gulfs, the Hummock Ranges, hills and elevations, boulders, wells, springs, native animals and various plants and trees throughout the peninsula provide a constant physical reminder of the exploits of these Beings and the laws which originated as a result of their actions. These laws are reiterated through Dreaming or Creation Stories, which prescribe strict and complex obligations that must be upheld if harmonious social and environmental relations are to prevail. Celebrations, that we know as corroborees, relive the actions of Ancestral Beings through song, drama, dance and poetry and reinforce people’s ancient connection to their land.
One Nharangga Creation Story describes low-lying, swampy country covered with numerous lagoons. Disagreement among Ancestral Beings belonging to the bird, animal and reptile families caused great concern to leaders of the willy wagtail, emu and kangaroo families. After the families experienced a night of prophetic dreams, a giant kangaroo bone was found which proved to be magic. When the wise and respected kangaroo pointed the bone at the swampy land, the earth opened up and the sea gradually flooded the low land. This is how the two peninsulas (Yorke and Eyre) and what we now call Spencer Gulf were formed. The events described in this Creation Story are consistent with rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age and the drowning of land, which scientists estimate occurred between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago.
Badhara was a big strong Nharangga man on a journey through his country to the southern part of Yorke Peninsula. On the way he camped and met a stranger who said he was Madjidju, the leader of the bat people.
Badhara was angry at Madjidju coming onto his land without permission. They fought and Badhara cut Madjidju in two, which is why the bat has short legs, and the folds where he was cut can still be seen on his body.
Badhara continued on his way until he came to Garrdimalga (meaning emu water hole, now called Curramulka) where a group were camped. They had been told of the fight by the willy wagtail, who was a well known sharer of news.
Badhara was annoyed that the people knew of his fight with Madjidju and caused a great bushfire to encircle them. The people tried to escape into the waterhole but the fire followed them at Badhara’s command and they were all burnt. When the wind picked up they all turned in to birds: magpies, shags, and seagulls. Their bodies were burnt black by the fire and smeared with the grey and white ashes.
Badhara continued on his journey until he met Ngarna. Ngarna was a little man, Ngarna was Madjidju, and Madjidju was a bat. The two men had an argument and fought. In the fight Ngarna was wounded by Badhara, but Ngarna was clever and quick-footed and ran away.
Badhara was at Guguthie and he threw his waddy across the bay at Ngarna, who hid behind a rock.
The waddy missed Ngarna and landed with tremendous force, breaking in two. The club head became the large rock known as Badhara's Rock which lies at Moongurie on the western side of Burgiyana (Point Pearce peninsula). Blood from the wounds can be seen on the rocks. The handle lies in pieces on the other side not far from Yadri, and the stones which formed it can be seen there still.
Ngarna became a huge rock over a hundred feet high, and his wife another rock sitting quietly at his feet at what is now known as ‘Rhino Head’ in Innes National Park
Rhino Head | Innes National Park
image reproduced with kind permission of www.exploreoz.com
photograph by Stephen Langman
Widhadha – The Shark
A long time ago when no white people lived on Guuranda (Yorke Peninsula), four Aboriginal clans lived here. One, the llara, lived in the south, at the bottom of the peninsula’s ’foot’, one near Ardrossan, and also near Balgowan and Wallaroo. These four clans were the ancestors of the Nharangga people.
Each group lived in their own particular areas and they used smoke as a signalling system to invite each other to celebrations and meetings.
A group of fishermen wrapped a small fish in bark and sent this fish out to sea to bring back other fish for a big celebration. The men would call out for the fish to come back. The fish returned but it had outgrown its bark wrappings. It was wrapped in new bark and sent out again, and then called back again. Each time it came back the bark was too small and had to be replaced by a new bigger piece of bark as the fish had grown bigger and bigger.
The last time it came back it was the biggest fish they had ever seen, and had enormous teeth. When it opened its mouth at them it was the shark. They all jumped back, and called out, “Badja!”.
Note: Badja generally means snake in Nharangga language, but can also mean something to be afraid of, that is, Widhadha, The Shark, the totem for southern Nharangga (Dhilba) people.