Why the stories are told
told by Aunty Beryl Carmichael
is Beryl Carmichael and my traditional name is
I belong to the
Ngiyaampaa people, come from the Ngiyaampaa
nation and the area we're in now belongs to
Eaglehawk and Crow.
I'm a storyteller
as well and all the stories have been handed
down to me by my people. I am now custodian of
about twenty-eight stories.
The stories are a
wonderful and a valuable tool, an education tool
in teaching our children. The 'Dreamtime'
stories as they are referred to today, we didn't
know that there was such names for them. Because
when the old people would tell the stories,
they'd just refer to them as 'marrathal warkan'
which means long, long time ago, when time first
began for our people, as people on this land
We have various
sites around in our country, we call them the
birthing places of all our stories. And of
course, the stories are embedded with the lore
that governs this whole land. The air, the land,
the environment, the universe, the stars.
The stories that
we are passing and talking on today, we are
hoping that, some way, it will help our
people-and our children, our young people in
particular-to get a better understanding about
the lore that governs our lives today.
No matter what we
do, there is always guidance there for us and
the guidance comes through in the stories. And
the direction that we are giving to our young
people on how we expect them to grow up. How to
listen to the old people, but also, never to be
disobedient. We must never be disobedient; we
must always obey the instructions of our old
people and people in authority; always do the
right thing; never be greedy; never be a thief
and so on.
So all these
little things are embedded in the stories to our
children. That's why the stories are so powerful
as an education tool when we're teaching our
young kids. We must always refer back to the
stories because they're the ones that's going to
give them the guidance that they need today.
Stories of the Dreaming - Introduction
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, etc.
Gathered around the camp fire in the evening, on an expedition to a favourite waterhole, or at a landmark of special significance, parents, Elders or Aunts and Uncles use the stories as the first part of a child's education.
Then, as children grow into young adults, more of the history and culture is revealed. Adults then take responsibility for passing on the stories to the following generations. In this way, the Stories of the Dreaming have been handed down over thousands of years.
All the storytellers you will meet on this site are active in keeping the stories alive and passing them on the next generation.
These are stories of the history and culture of the people, handed down in this way since the beginning of time, since the Dreamtime.
In the Beginning was the Dreaming
Earth and Sea and everything. He gave Man to
live in this Earth, for this World, this Tribal
In parts of the Kimberley
Region of Western Australia exist the homelands
of the mighty Wandjina. Painted mainly with red,
yellow and black lines over a white background,
their outline figures stand out boldly from
their resting places. Their strange, piercing
eyes give a haunting appearance to their faces,
which line certain cave galleries.
Wandjina control the rains and the pattern of
seasons which replenish the resources throughout
This is Wandjina. There was a
time when this Earth - he made Earth and Sea and
everything. This is Wandjina - he made people.
Wandjina is Wandjina. He gave Man to live in
this Earth, for this World, this Tribal Country.
He put the Wandjina in the cave for him to
remember this Wandjina, to follow his laws, to
go about the right ways ...
believe that the Wandjina give rain. Then it
says that the Earth is hot and that it breathes;
the Earth it breathes, it's a steam blow up, and
it gives cloud to give rain. Rain gives fruit,
and everything grows, and the trees and the
grass to feed other things, kangaroos and birds
the completion of their earthly tasks, each of
the Wandjina turned into a rockface image.
There, the Wandjina spirits continued to live.
It is possible for new life to emanate from the
figures adorning the cave walls - to re-enter
the physical world as unborn children.
places are sites to which local Aborigines have
a deeply spiritual attachment. Not everyone can
go there. For those without the right to enter,
they are very dangerous places:
the paintings represent the bodies of the dead
Wandjinas, the spirits of the Wandjinas live on
in much the same way as the Aborigines believe
the spirits of human beings continue to exist
after their death.
These Wandjina have
considerable powers and the Aborigines are
careful to observe a certain amount of protocol
when they approach the paintings, fearing that
if they do not, the spirits might take their
This protocol normally consists
of calling out to the Wandjinas from several
yards' distance, to tell them a party is
approaching and will not harm the paintings ...
Should the Wandjinas be offended, the Aborigines
believe that they will take their revenge by
calling up the lightning to strike the offender
dead, or the rain to flood the land and drown
the people, or the cyclone with its gales which
devastate the country.
The Australian Aborigines
speak of jiva or guruwari, a "seed power"
deposited in the earth. In the Aboriginal
world view, every meaningful activity, event, or
life process that occurs at a particular place
leaves behind a vibrational residue in the
earth, as plants leave an image of themselves as
seeds. The shape of the land - its mountains,
rocks, riverbeds, and waterholes - and its
unseen vibrations echo the events that brought
that place into creation. Everything in the
natural world is a symbolic footprint of the
metaphysical beings whose actions created our
world. As with a seed, the potency of an
earthly location is wedded to the memory of its
origin. The Aborigines called this potency the
"Dreaming" of a place, and this Dreaming
constitutes the sacredness of the earth. Only in
extraordinary states of consciousness can one be
aware of, or attuned to, the inner dreaming.
--Faces of the First Day:
the Aboriginal Dreamtime
by Robert Lawlor
The Australian Aborigines
believe that long, long ago the earth was soft
and had no form. The features of the landscape
were created as the result of the heroic acts of
ancestral spirits, who often assumed the form of
animals. The origins of land shapes—mountains,
deserts, and water holes—echo these events,
which the Aborigines refer to as Dreamtime. For
at least fifty thousand years, the Aborigines
have maintained the traditions of Dreamtime
through stories, music, dance, art, and
ceremony. And in the land around Kakadu, this
tradition is honoured today.
by Paul Morin
Acknowledgement: The dreamtime stories used in this website have been accessed from website: