Bilba the Bilby

Legend has it that Bilba the soft-furred sandhill rat was once a man and lived in a camp with his mate, Mayra, the wind, who was invisible. Bilba could hold conversations with Mayra but much as he wanted to, Bilba could never see his friend. Bilba pleaded with Mayra to become like him so that he could see him as Bilba longed to see someone again. If he could only see Mayra, he would not wish for a better mullaya [mate]. Mayra, despite Bilba's pleas, was happy to stay as he was as Mayra could see Bilba - he was all right.

One day, after again pleading with his friend to make himself visible, Bilba decided not to go hunting with Mayra that day but he would stay in the camp. Mayra the wind then went off angrily without Bilba. Later that evening, Bilba suddenly heard a roaring in the distance such as he had never heard before. Bilba quickly went up to the sand-ridge behind his camp and made a hole in the soft ground and buried himself in it until the windstorm had passed. Up came the wind tearing on to the ridge, whirling round the camp. On and on he went round Bilba's hole; but he could not shift it, so howling with impotent rage as he went, Mayra passed on until his voice was only heard in the distance and at length, not at all. After a time, Bilba came out. He had been so safe and warm in his hole in the sand that he lived there ever afterwards; and there he took his wife to live.

To this day Bilba's tribe live in burrows in the sand. They still hear the voice of old Bilba's mate. For so angry was Mayra at Bilba's desire to see his face or leave him that he only howls and roars as he rushes past their camps. Never since has any of the tribes seen where he camps nor does anyone know except the six winds that blow and they tell the secret to none.

Michael J Connolly
Munda-gutta Kulliwari
© Dreamtime Kullilla-Art