Gaya-dari the Platypus


A young duck used to swim away by herself in the creek. Her tribe told her that Mulloka the water devil would catch her some day if she wasn't careful. But she did not listen to them.

One day, after swimming down the creek a fair way, she landed on a bank where she saw some nice green grass and started feeding on it. Suddenly Biggoon, a very big water-rat, jumped out of the water and grabbed the young duck. Biggoon was looking for a wife as he was very lonely. He told the young duck that if she stayed quietly with him and he will not hurt her but if she struggled anymore or tried to escape he will knock her on the head or spear her with his little spear that he always carried.

The young duck obeyed Biggoon as she was very frightened. She pretended that she liked her new life and wanted to stay with Biggoon forever. After awhile Biggoon started to believe the young duck was happy living with him and gradually gave up watching her day and night and started back taking his long day sleep like he used to.

One day when Biggoon was sound asleep, the young duck snuck out of the burrow, slid into the creek and swam away as quickly as she could towards her old camp. She finally reached her old tribe and told them how Biggoon the large water-rat had captured her for his wife and how she escaped.

When it was nesting time, the young duck, who had long since forgotten her ordeal with Biggoon, set up her nest and layed her eggs in the mirria-bushes beside the creek. The young duck had 2 children but her 2 children were quite different from the tribe. Instead of down feathers they had soft fur - instead of 2 feet they had 4 - their bills were those of ducks and their feet were webbed and on the hind were just showing points of a spear like Biggoon always carried.

Young duck's tribe banished her and her children as her children did not belong to the tribe so the little mother duck left with her 2 despised children and headed up stream where she could hide from her tribe and Biggoon. She kept going until she reached the mountains where the creek grew narrow and scrubby on its banks and there she lived with her children. Soon her children kept away from here because they saw how different they were from her. Feeling too lonely and miserable to live and too unhappy to find food, the poor little mother duck soon pined away and died away on the mountains far from her old noorumba [herediary hunting-ground].

Her children lived on and throve, laid eggs and hatched out more children just like themselves and before long all the mountain creeks had some of them. And there they still live, the Gaya-dari [platypus] - quite a tribe apart - for when did ever a rat lay eggs? Or a duck have four feet?

Michael J Connolly
Munda-gutta Kulliwari
Dreamtime Kullilla-Art