You are here: Home / What To Do / History & Culture / The Story of Mungurru and Wahalumbaal birri

The Story of Mungurru and Wahalumbaal birri

How Mungurru (the rock python) made the Wahalumbaal birri (the Endeavour River) from the book Aboriginal Tales from Queensland's Endeavour River by Tulo Gordon
The Story of Mungurru and Wahalumbaal birri

Mungurru by Tulo Gordon

Why the Rock Python’s head is flat

One day Dyirimadhi (a young male blackbird) who had fallen madly in love with two beautiful sisters, daughters of old Mungurru , found the courage to ask  permission to marry the girls. The old python said no, he had loftier plans for his girls. Dyirimadhi was disappointed and angry.  A few days later, returning from hunting he spied Mungurru sleeping on top of Gabulnda gathayga (Connor’s Knob – the distinctive peak to the west north-west). So deciding to pay back Mungurru for his rejection, he carried a big rock high into the sky and dropped it on old Mungurru’s head. (Today the rock is still on the peak and the rock python’s head is still flat).

How the Endeavour River was made

Mungurru screamed with pain and slithered from the hill. He decided to head out to sea to bathe his wounds. As he dragged himself his body formed the river as we know it today. Reaching the sea, he swam east as far as Walmba muulaarr (the Great Barrier Reef) and the salt water healed his wounds.

Three days later and growing cold, Mungurru drifted with the wind and the tides north-west until he reached shore. He crawled out and found a nice sunny spot and fell asleep. When he awoke he could not move, he had slept too long in the open and had turned into a rock which is called Dyiirrii (Nob Point). You can still see him there today, from a boat close to the northern side of the point he can be seen within the shape of the rocks, gazing north.

How the Bama clan estate boundaries were established

As Mungurru crawled and swam his body defined the clan boundaries – the Waymbuurr estate to the south of the river (including Grassy Hill and the current site of Cooktown), and to the north clan areas of Nguumbarr Nguumbarr, Nugal and Gamay. The pathway of Mungurra extended as far as the Great Barrier Reef and returned to Nob Point.

Illustrations by Tulo Gordon from 'Milbi, Aboriginal Tales from Queensland's Endeavour River'. Courtesy of the Gordon Family.