Wilkuda and the Kangaroo

How Lake Eyre was formed

Long long ago in the Dreamtime the centre of Australia was an enormous sea. Soon the world began to change as the ice was melting and the ocean waters were rising but due to the lack of rain the large expanse of water was shrinking and had become no more than an arid desert. Both humans and wildlife were starving.

An old woman was searching for food when a kangaroo hopped close to her. She was about to hit him with her yam stick when a young boy called Wilkuda leapt from her stomach. The kangaroo was frightened and gained speed but was chased by the boy who could run faster than the old woman. Wilkuda eventually caught and killed the kangaroo with a spear he had found on the sand. He was very tired from the chase and decided to sleep before he cooked the animal. When he woke some time later, he noticed that the kangaroo he caught was gone. He followed the tracks until he saw an old man cooking his prey in the distance. During his pursuit spirits told Wilkuda that this animal had a magic skin and would create a lake when placed on the sand. He hurried towards the old man and told him he could eat the meat but must hand back the skin.

The old man gave the skin back and Wilkuda hurried back towards the east with the skin in his mesh bag. He was joined by a strange bird that flew close to him. The little bird chattered firmly that he was not to throw the skin over important human tracks and finally gave him permission to spread the skin over a flat, dry stretch of desert. The skin grew larger and larger while water rapidly flowed into it from some magic source. This is now Lake Eyre. The Wangkumara people believe that Wilkuda was turned into stone on the bank of the lake he made for them. They say he still remains there today and the rock resembles the young boy with his mesh bag containing the skin and his stone tomahawk. Quite close to him is another rock formation resembling a kangaroo.

Michael J Connolly
Munda-gutta Kulliwari
Dreamtime Kullilla-Art