Bougoodoogahdah the Rain Bird, Australian
BOUGOODOOGAHDAH was all old woman who lived alone with her four
hundred dingoes. From living so long with these dogs she had grown not
to care for her fellow creatures except as food. She and the dogs lived
on human flesh, and it was her cunning which gained such food for them
all. She would sally forth from her camp with her two little dogs; she
would be sure to meet some black fellows, probably twenty or thirty,
going down to the creek. She would say, "I can tell you where there are
lots of paddy melons." They would ask where, and she would answer,
"Over there, on the point of that moorillah or ridge. If you will go
there and have your nullahs ready, I will go with my two dogs and round
them up towards you."
The black fellows invariably stationed themselves where she had
told them, and off went Bougoodoogahdah and her two dogs. But not to
round up the paddy melons. She went quickly towards her camp, calling
softly, "Birree, gougou," which meant "Sool 'em, sool 'em," and was the
signal for the dogs to come out. Quickly they came and surrounded the
black fellows, took them by surprise, flew at them, bit and worried
them to death. Then they and Bougoodoogahdah dragged the bodies to
their camp. There they were cooked and were food for the old woman and
the dogs for some time. As soon as the supply was finished the same
plan to obtain more was repeated.
The black fellows missed so many of their friends that they
determined to find out what had become of them. They began to suspect
the old woman who lived alone and hunted over the moorillahs with her
two little dogs. They proposed that the next party that went to the
creek should divide and some stay behind in hiding and watch what went
on. Those watching saw the old woman advance towards their friends,
talk to them for a while, and then go off with her two dogs. They saw
their friends station themselves at the point of the moorillah or
ridge, holding their nullahs in readiness, as if waiting for something
to come. Presently they heard a low cry from the old woman of "Birree
gougou," which cry was quickly followed by dingoes coming out of the
bush in every direction, in hundreds, surrounding the black fellows at
The dingoes closed in, quickly hemming the black fellows in all
round; then they made a simultaneous rush at them, tore them with their
teeth, and killed them.
The black fellows watching, saw that when the dogs had killed their
friends they were joined by the old woman, who helped them to drag off
the bodies to their camp.
Having seen all this, back went the watchers to their tribe and.
told what they had seen. All the tribes round mustered up and decided
to execute a swift vengeance. In order to do so, out they sallied well
armed. A detachment went on to entrap the dogs and Bougoodoogahdah.
Then just when the usual massacre of the blacks was to begin and the
dogs were closing in round them for the purpose, out rushed over two
hundred black fellows, and so effectual was their attack that every dog
was killed, as well as Bougoodoogahdah and her two little dogs.
The old woman lay where she had been slain, but as the blacks went
away they heard her cry "Bougoodoogahdah." So back they went and broke
her bones, first they broke her legs and then left her. But again as
they went they heard her cry "Bougoodoogahdah." Then back again they
came, and again, until at last every bone in her body was broken, but
still she cried "Bougoodoogahdah." So one man waited beside her to see
whence came the sound, for surely, they thought, she must be dead. He
saw her heart move and cry again "Bougoodoogahdah" and as it cried, out
came a little bird from it. This little bird runs on the moorillahs and
calls at night "Bougoodoogahdah." All day it stays in one place, and
only at night comes out. It is a little greyish bird, something like a
weedah. The blacks call it a rain-maker, for if any one steals its eggs
it cries out incessantly "Bougoodoogahdah" until in answer to its call
the rain falls. And when the country is stricken with a drought, the
blacks loook for one of these little birds, and finding it, chase it,
until it cries aloud "Bougoodoogahdah, Bougoodoogahdah" and when they
hear its cry in the daytime they know the rain will soon fall.
As the little bird flew from the heart of the woman, all the dead
dingoes were changed into snakes, many different kinds, all poisonous.
The two little dogs were changed into dayall minyah, a very small kind
of carpet snake, non-poisonous, for these two little dogs had never
bitten the blacks as the other dogs had done. At the points of the
Moorillahs where Bougoodoogahdah and her dingoes used to slay the
blacks, are heaps of white stones, which are supposed to be the
fossilised bones of the massacred nien.