The Waratah

Long ago in the Dreamtime there were many beautiful plants and flowers just as there are today. Some of them are just as they were in the Dreamtime, but some have changed. The waratah flower is one of them. It is an unusual flower because it grows at the top of a sturdy stem that reaches out of a small bush. Usually the flower is a deep red but occasionally a white one may be found. However, in the Dreamtime all the waratahs were white.

Our story begins with Wonga the Pigeon who used to live in the bushland with her mate. They would spend their time on the floor of the forest gathering food and had a rule never to get out of one another's sight. They had to stay below the trees because they knew that in the land of the sky lived the Hawk - their deadly enemy. One day when Wonga and her mate were out looking for food they got separated. Wonga called out to her mate but there was no reply. After searching around the lower branches of the forest Wonga decided that the only hope of finding her mate before dark would be to fly above the trees. She flew towards the tree-tops and into the clear blue sky and started calling for her mate. Eventually Wonga found her mate way down beneath her but not before the Hawk had spotted her. He had seen Wonga and was hurtling towards her with his strong beak piercing the air. Hawk caught Wonga with a crushing grip from his great brown talons tearing her breast open as he hauled her upwards. Wonga desperately tore herself free from Hawk and plunged downwards towards the forest below. Unable to fly, she landed bleeding and broken in a patch of waratah bushes. Her blood trickled down onto one of the white waratah flowers. She tried desperately to reach her mate by dragging herself from flower to flower staining each of them a deep red with her blood as she went. Eventually Wonga lost her battle with life and died as she laid upon the waratah bushes.

This is why today most waratah flowers are red, coloured by the blood of Wonga the Pigeon as long ago she flew from flower to flower in search of her mate. Sometimes, although it is very rare, it is still possible to find a white waratah just as they were back in the Dreamtime.

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