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How the Frog made the Flood
A Dreamtime Story
In the Dreamtime, a terrible drought once swept across the land.
The leaves of the trees turned brown and fell from the branches, the flowers drooped their heads and died, and the green grass withered as though the spirit from the red mountain had breathed upon it with a breath of fire.
All the creatures in the land met together in a great mob to discover the cause of the drought.
The Dreamtime - The stories which explain
The Sacred 'once upon a time'
Stories of the Dreamtime have been handed down over thousands of years.
In Aboriginal Australia, the Dreamtime is a sacred 'once upon a time', when the ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings formed the world we know today.
Storytelling is an integral part of life for Indigenous Australians. From an early age, storytelling plays a vital role in educating children. The stories help to explain how the land came to be shaped and inhabited, how to behave and why, where to find certain foods and basically how to get along in the world.
The Elders use the stories as the first part of a child's education.
The Terrible Drought
When the hot wind blew ...
When the hot wind blew, the dead reeds rattled in the dry river bed, and the burning sands shimmered like a flat silver lake.
All the water had left the rippling creeks, and the deep, still, water holes. In the clear blue sky the sun was a mass of molten gold; the clouds no longer drifted across the hills, and the only darkness that fell across the land was the shadow of night and death.
The Mob Meets
After many had died of thirst, all the animals in the land met together in a great mob to discover the cause of the drought. They travelled many miles, some from the bush, and others from distant mountains. Even the sea-birds left their homes in the cliffs where the white surf thundered, and flew without resting for many days and nights.
When they all arrived at the chosen meeting place in Central Australia, they discovered that a frog of enormous size had swallowed all the water in the land, and thus caused the drought.
Now, everyone knew the only way to get the water again was to make the frog laugh. But who was going to do it? After a few words spoken in heat, the pride of place was given to the Kookaburra.
The animals then formed themselves into a huge circle with the frog in the centre. Red kangaroos, grey wallaroos, rock and swamp wallabies, kangaroo rats, water rats, bandicoots, koalas and ring-tailed possums all sat together. Emu and Brolga forgot their quarrel and the bellbird stilled his chimes. Even a butcher bird looked pleasantly at a brown snake, and the echidna forgot to bristle. A truce had been called in the bush.
Googoorgarga the Kookaburra
Kookaburra tries to make the frog laugh
Now the Kookaburra seated himself on the limb of a dead tree and, with a wicked leer to his eye, looked straight at the big, bloated frog.
Googoorgaga ruffled his brown feathers, and began to laugh.
At first, he made a low gurgling sound deep in his throat, as if he were smiling to himself, then the gurgle became a warm chuckling, and gradually he raised his voice and laughed louder and louder.
His laugh trilled up in high pitched giggles and swooped down to big fat belly laughs. He laughed wildly, and insanely (as only a kookaburra can) until the bush re-echoed with the sound of his merriment.
The other animals had to laugh too. Soon they were rolling round, helpless with merriment their eyes weeping with the tears of laughter.
But the frog gave no sign. He just blinked his eyes and looked as sober as only a frog can look.
Lizard and Brolga try ...
The Kookaburra continued to laugh until he nearly choked and fell off the tree, but all without success. The next competitor was a frill-neck lizard. It extended the frill around its throat, and, puffing out its jaws, capered up and down. How the others laughed to see these acrobatics!
But there was no humour in the frog. He didn't even look at the lizard, and laughter was out of the question.
Then graceful Brolga tried to tickle the frog's fancy. She danced and she danced and she danced. She flew up in the air, spun round, jumped, twirled, stomped, leapt and balanced upon her toes... but all her efforts failed to arouse the interest of the frog.
A fight breaks out ...
The position was very serious indeed. In their anxiety to solve the difficulty, everyone spoke at once, and the din was indescribable.
Above the noise could be heard a frantic cry of distress. A carpet snake was trying to swallow an echidna and the spines had stuck in his throat. A kookaburra had a firm grip of the snake's tail and was trying to fly away with him.
Close by, two bandicoots were fighting over the possession of a sweet root, but, while they were busily engaged in scratching each other, a possum stole it.
They then forgot their quarrel and chased the possum, who escaped danger by climbing a tree and swinging from a branch by his tail. In this peculiar position he ate the root at his leisure, much to the disgust of the bandicoots below.
Burraga the Bandicoot
Big Eel tries ...
After peace and quiet had been restored, the question of the drought was again considered.
A big eel, who lived in a deep water hole in the river, suggested that he should be given an opportunity of making the frog laugh. Many of the animals laughed at the idea, but, in despair, they agreed to give him a trial.
The eel then began to wriggle in front of the frog. At first he wriggled slowly, then faster and faster until his head and tail met.
Then he slowed down and wriggled like a snake with the shivers.
After a few minutes, he changed his position, and flopped about like a well-bitten grub on an ant bed.
Wangura the Frog
The frog opened his sleepy eyes, his big body quivered, his face relaxed, and, at last, he burst into a laugh that sounded like the far-off rolling thunder.
Out from his mouth came the water. It fell in a splash, then in a big flash-flood.
It ran across the sand and filled the waterhole, ran underground to the next waterhole, ran through every creek and waterhole. It poured through every dried up bed and overflowed the billabongs.
It ran and ran till all the old creek beds became the deepest rivers and water covered all the land. That was a big flood!
And that was how the Frog caused the Great Flood.
When you see the eel jumping like the bullants have found him, the big water will come.
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The Story of the Frog and the Flood for Children
Told for children, it's a very funny tale and the bright colours enhance the story
Is this how the Great Flood started? - What's your opinion?
What do you think? Did the Frog cause the Flood?
Another Aboriginal Dreamtime story : Waatji Pulyeri - The Blue Wren
© 2008 Susanna Duffy