Clifton Jungurrayi Bieundurry

Willy Wagtail

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Willy Wagtail
Willy Wagtail

Clifton Jungurrayi Bieundurry

Willy Wagtail

Medium: Acrylic on handmade paper
Price: $ NFS
NFS

In the Dreamtime there lived a Willy Wagtail that came from the Walmajarri tribe of the Great Sandy Desert. He lived near a large lake, where two of his cousins also lived. Both of his cousins were great powerful serpents who could control wind, rain, lightning and thunder.

One year, all the tribes of the Kimberley were invited to a place called Darngku to represent their tribe and land in song and dance. Each day and through the night a tribe would perform, they would sing and dance and celebrate. All the tribespeople attending knew of the prized gift Tjakurli (pearl shell) and all knew receiving this prize was a great honour given in recognition of the most impressive performance.

The Willy Wagtail spent the weeks leading up to the celebration perfecting his songs and dances but when it came to his turn to perform he was so nervous he was shaking. He went on and danced and sang all of his country’s song and dances. At the end he felt so proud of himself for finishing all his dances and songs and he walked away feeling very confident that he would receive gifts from the crowd watching. As he sat waiting under his tree in the shade he noticed that everyone had walked back to their fire places without a cheer or a clap. The Willy Wagtail assumed that the people who watched his dancing and singing were going back to their fire places and would return bearing gifts so he sat there waiting and waiting and waiting, but no-one came. That night he slept and before he went to sleep he hoped that at least some-one would give him one Tjakurli, but when he woke in the morning all he found was broken chips from the Tjakurli shell.

The Willy Wagtail felt very sad that he hadn’t received any gifts from any of the crowd who watched his dancing and singing that he pack up all belongings and started his long walk back to his country. After days of travelling he arrived home but when he got there he did not tell his cousins that he had arrived home but instead sat under a tree by the lake still feeling sad.

The Willy Wagtail’s cousins, who lived in the lake, noticed that he was feeling down and asked him what had happened. The Willy Wagtail proceeded to tell his cousins what had happened and they became very angry at the people who had sat and watched his performance but did not offer gifts.

The Serpents decided that they would teach the people who hadn’t offered any gifts to the Willy Wagtail a lesson. The two serpents approached the celebrations; one of them decided that he would go by air and would create thunder and storms, while the other would burrow itself under the people who were dancing and singing and make the ground soft.

As the people were celebrating the end of the celebrations they noticed the sky getting darker and winds growing stronger but went on singing and dancing. They were so busy singing and dancing they did not notice the grounds were getting softer and the clouds were getting closer, but they still went on singing and dancing. The people still celebrated, not noticing that the rains began to fall and winds began to blow harder and harder. Then the rain fell heavier and lightning flashed, striking trees and humpies and setting them on fire. The people started panicking and running, seeking shelter. As they tried to run the ground became softer and softer and they began to sink into the ground becoming stuck halfway in the ground and leaving them there till this day.

Today, when you visit Darngku you find rocks in ground which represent the people who became stuck in the ground.

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