The Great Flood

Long, long ago, before the great flood, the Nurrumbunguttias, or spirit men and women, lived on the earth. They knew that the whole earth was flat, and that for long ages it had been dark, until Pupperimbul, the Diamond Firetail, a little bird with a red patch on its tail, made the sun. Once that great ball of fire sailed across the sky it gave light and warmth.

Even though the world was warm during the day, the Nurrumbunguittas were cold at night, and they did not like eating raw food, so they made fire to warm themselves and cook their food.

Then came the flood. The water rose up quietly from the sea, until it was higher than the tallest gum tree. It was like a vast blue plain, with only the tops of the mountains standing up above it like islands. The water kept on rising, and finally even the mountain peaks disappeared. The world was one vast, flat sheet of water, and there was no place for the Nurrumbunguttias to live. Many of them were drowned, but others were caught up by a whirlwind which carried them off into the sky, where they became stars, and some, who were gods on earth, became the gods of the sky. Among them was Pund-jil [Bunjil]. The Milky Way was made out of the fires that the Nurrumbunguttias had kindled when they were on earth.

Slowly the flood waters receded. The mountain tops appeared again, and the spear heads of trees showed above the water. The sea went back into its own place, and the land steamed under the hot sun. Animals, birds, insects, and reptiles appeared once more and made their homes on the quickly-drying plains.

Then Kararock and Berwooland Babinger, the son and daughter of Pund-jil, went back to the earth and became the first of the true men and women who live in the world today. Wang, who was a star, stole fire from the heavens once more, and gave it to them; and so on earth there were many animals, and men and women to hunt them.

But the spirits of the Nurrumbunguttias, the old spirits of the world, are still alive. It is because of them that we have darkness, storms, and evil spirits in the world today. And remember, if ever a Pupperimbul, a Diamond Firetail, is killed, another torrent of rain will fall from the skies.

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