Due to the sacredness of the Aboriginal Dreaming, the following stories have been left in their original form.
Why Emu Can't Fly
Dinewan the Emu was big and strong with huge wings that carried him over great distances. His wife had lots of children each year and he was well respected and feared. As all powerful ones, he also had his share of enemies, chief of which was Goomblegubbon the brush turkey. He envied Emu's power of flight and the way he could run swiftly over the vast plains without tiring. So he made a plan to injure Emu and he told no-one but his wife of it. He waited till he knew that Emu was going out on the plain to feed and he made sure that he got there before him. He held his wings close in to his body, ruffled up his feathers and squatted on the ground where the grass was rich and long.
When Emu had eaten a lot of grass and was in a good mood, Goomblegubbon spoke to him. "Hello, I feel that as a friend I should point out to you that the others are wondering why a big, strong bird like you should choose to fly everywhere, instead of walking when you want to get anywhere." Emu looked at him incredulously. How else would he get anywhere, he wondered. Goomblegubbon continued, " No one else would dare to tell you these things Emu, but like I said, walking is best. Flying is something that any bird can do, its common and ordinary. It’s only men and strong birds like you and me, who can get about by walking. It’s a sign of distinction." Emu thought about it and replied, "Hmm, perhaps you are right, I will have to talk about it with my wife this evening." And off Emu went, striding across the plain to test out the theory. His long legs carried him swiftly home to his wife.
The next day, the two birds met again. "I have thought about it and decided that you were right," Emu said. "My wife and I chopped off our wings with a stone tomahawk last night. It was painful, but my leg muscles are growing stronger already. I'll race you to that bush." Brush turkey laughed and laughed. "I never really thought that you would fall for the tale so easily Emu. Your brains must be as small as fledglings. But if you want to, I'll race you."
Emu sprinted across the sun-baked ground,as Goomblegubbon waited until Emu had nearly reached the bush, then he flapped noisily through the air, alighting well ahead of Dinewan, the Emu. "Ha, ha, what a simpleton you are Emu," he cried. "Your people will hardly respect a bird who cannot fly." Emu was angry. He rushed at Brush turkey, striking out at him with his powerful legs, but Goomblegubbon just flew away laughing. Emu sadly walked home to tell his wife how he had been tricked.
A whole year went by. Dinewan never said anything to the Brush turkey about the loss of his wings, and this puzzled the Brush turkey. Emu's legs grew stronger and soon he was able to run as fast as the other could fly.
One morning, Emu took his largest two children out with him, leaving his other fourteen in their mother's care. He met up with Goomblegubbon and his wife and their noisy brood. "Busy?" asked Dinewan the emu. "Busy!" exclaimed the Brush turkey, its hard work all day long just trying to keep all of their bellies full and they still look scrawny. We're trying to get them to hunt for their own food, but we haven't had much luck so far."
"Yes, I can see that," replied emu, "but the trouble is that there are too many of them. They don't get a chance to grow big. We disposed of most of ours. We came to the conclusion that the only way to have strong, healthy chicks was to keep the best of them and get rid of the others. See how much bigger my two are than yours. The next generation of Dinewans will be real birds." Goomblegubbon and his wife walked all around the Dinewan chicks and thoughtfully whispered together. Emu walked off with his chicks, chuckling quietly to himself.
The following day he met Goomblegubbon on the plain. "I have taken your advice, Emu" the Brush turkey said. "Here are my two biggest young. The others have gone. What do you think of this strong pair?" Dinewan laughed and laughed. "What a simpleton you are," he said. "A bird's strength lies not in his ability to use his wings, but in the number of his offspring. I am sorry for you, my friend, but perhaps it will teach you that Brush turkeys are even more foolish than emus.
THAT IS WHY EMUS HAVE MANY CHILDREN BUT CANNOT FLY, AND WHY BUSTARDS (BRUSH TURKEYS) ONLY LAY TWO EGGS EACH YEAR.
– From Ngarrindjeri Dreaming Stories (South Australian Department of Education, Training and Employment, 2000)
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