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Jim Poulter Author of Books on Aboriginal Culture and Child Protection
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The Dreamtime Story of Birrarung

As retold by Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson

After the Dreamtime Creator Spirits had created the land of the Wurundjeri people, the task was given to the people to care for the land and each other.

This was the First Law given to the First People by Bunjil.

But the land of Birrarung Dreaming was so plentiful and life was so easy, that people began to forget their responsibility to the land and each other.

Because of this the Dreaming began to die and the spirits of the ancestors became disturbed that the Law had been forgotten. The sky shook with their anger, causing a star to be dislodged. It fell and hit the land and stopped both Birrarung and Kumrun from flowing. Birrarung is the river that we today call the Yarra and Kumrun is the Plenty River.

Soon great bodies of water were formed at Moorool and Morang and when the animals went away the people realised they had failed in their duty. So two ancestor heroes, Barwool and Yan-Yin, decided to free Moorool and Morang from the water. With their stone axes, Barwool cut a channel through Warrandyte to Bulleen to free the water from Moorool and Yan-Yin cut a channel through the Plenty Gorge to free the water from Morang, but when they reached Bulleen, it too was also full of water.

So when Barwool and Yan-Yin met at Bulleen they rested for a while and this is why Bulleen means ‘resting place’. After they had rested, Yan-Yin and Barwool continued cutting a channel from Bulleen through Bigi-Bigi, wearing out many stone axes along the way. Finally all the water from Moorool, Morang and Bulleen rushed out through Bigi-Bigi to fill Jillong, which is now called Narm or Port Phillip Bay, and the land of the Wurundjeri was free again.

Soon the possums, kangaroos, emus and all the other animals returned. As before, the hunting fishing and living in the Yarra Valley was unsurpassed, and the people never again forgot their duty to the land.

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