Wayarnbeh the Turtle, Australian Legendary
OOLAH, the lizard, was out getting yams on a Mirrieh flat. She had
three of her children with her. Suddenly she thought she heard some one
moving behind the big Mirrieh bushes. She listened. All of a sudden out
jumped Wayambeh from behind a bush and seized Oolah, telling her not to
make a noise and he would not hurt her, but that he meant to take her
off to his camp to be his wife. He would take her three children too
and look after them. Resistance was useless, for Oolah had only her yam
stick, while Wayambeh had his spears and boondees. Wayambeh took the
woman and her children to his camp. His tribe when they saw him bring
home a woman of the Oolah tribe, asked him if her tribe had given her
to him. He said, "No, I have stolen her."
"Well," they said, "her tribe will soon be after her; you must
protect yourself; we shall not fight for you. You had no right to steal
her without telling us. We had a young woman of our own tribe for you,
yet you go and steal an Oolah and bring her to the camp of the
Wayambeh. On your own head be the consequences."
In a short time the Oolahs were seen coming across the plain which
faced the camp of the Wayambeh. And they came not in friendship or to
parley, for no women were with them, and they carried no boughs of
peace in their bands, but were painted as for war, and were armed with
When the Wayambeh saw the approach of the Oolah, their chief said:
"Now, Wayambeh, you had better go out on to the plain and do your own
fighting; we shall not help you."
Wayambeh chose the two biggest boreens that he had; one he slung on
him, covering the front of his body, and one the back; then, seizing
his weapons, he strode out to meet his enemies.
When he was well out on to the plain, though still some distance
from the Oolah, he called out, "Come on."
The answer was a shower of spears and boomerangs. As they came
whizzing through the air Wayambeh drew his arms inside the boreens, and
ducked his head down between them, so escaped.
As the weapons fell harmless to the ground, glancing off his
boreen, out again he stretched his arms and held up again his head,
shouting, "Come on, try again, I'm ready."
The answer was another shower of weapons, which he met in the same
way. At last the Oolahs closed in round him, forcing him to retreat
towards the creek.
Shower after shower of weapons they slung at him, and were getting
at such close quarters that his only chance was to dive into the creek.
He turned towards the creek, tore the front boreen off him, flung down
his weapons and plunged in.
The Oolah waited, spears poised in hand, ready to aim directly his
head appeared above water, but they waited in vain. Wayambeh, the black
fellow, they never saw again, but in the waterhole wherein he had dived
they saw a strange creature, which bore on its back a fixed structure
like a boreen, and which, when they went to try and catch it, drew in
its head and limbs, so they said, "It is Wayambeh." And this was the
beginning of Wayambeh, or turtle, in the creeks.