Imberombera & Wuraka

Divine fertility and the creative power of the feminine principle are illustrated in this myth from the Kakadu tribes. Imberombera, the Great Mother, bears children in each place where she stops on her wanderings and teaches them about language and culture. Wuraka, her giant consort, is tired and wishes to rest with the sun in the east. This myth explains how different tribes acquired distinct languages and locales.

Wuraka came from the west, walking through the sea. His feet were on the bottom, but he was so tall that his head was well above the surface of the water. He landed at a place called Allukaladi, between what are now known as Mount Bidwell and Mount Roe, both of which he made. His first sleeping place, after coming out on land, was at Woralia. He then came on to Umurunguk and so to Adkerakuk and Aruwurkwain, at each of which he slept one night.

The woman, Imberombera, also walked through the sea and landed at what is now known as Malay Bay, the native name being Wungaran. She met Wuraka at Arakwurkwain. Imberombera said to him, “Where are you going?” He said, “I am going straight through the bush to the rising sun.” The first language they spoke was Iwaidja, that is the language of the people of Port Essington.

Imberombera had a huge stomach in which she carried many children, and on her head she wore a bamboo ring from which hung numbers of dilly bags full of yams. She also carried a very large stick or wairbi.

At a place called Marpur, close to where she and Wuraka met, she left boy and girl spirit children and told them to speak Iwaidja. She also planted many yams there and said to the children whom she left behind, “Mungatidda jam” (these are good to eat).

As she traveled along, Imberombera sent out various spirit children to different parts of the country, telling them to speak different languages. She sent them to ten places – each of these places is regarded as the central camping ground of the respective tribes.

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