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Myth / Aboriginal Australian Myths

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The Dreaming
The traditional stories of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

The time before the Europeans come to Australia, though some particular myths have told the story about a white man that came to their land, bringing either great things or great harm. While the myths as a whole tend to be rather diverse, there are some common elements among the various Aboriginal myths.

Each group has different myths, so they will vary depending on which region said group is from.

A collection can be found here and another here.

Writers who are thinking of incorporating these myths into their works should be aware that some Aboriginal people feel that a form of "cultural copyright" exists on their traditional stories, and may object to them being used by someone from outside their tribe or culture. Always talk to Elders (the leaders of Aboriginal communities); most are willing to help you sort out kinks in your stories.


  • Amphibian at Large: Tiddalik the frog once drank all the water in the land and swelled to an enormous size, causing the plants and animals to start to die of thirst. The other animals all tried to get Tiddalik to laugh and open his mouth to release the water. Eventually, Nabunum the eel was able to make him laugh by tying himself in silly shapes.note 
  • Animal Motifs: A lot. A notable one would be the "Rainbow Serpent"
  • Blow You Away: The Crow in Kulin Nation myths is in charge of the winds. With this, he accidentally blew away the creator, Bunjil and his family into the sky.
  • Creating Life Is Awesome: The sun goddess Yhi's motivation until she started hearing complaints from her creations.
  • Creation Myth: Like most oral traditions, it has one — actually loads. Known as "Dreaming". There is also the story of Baiame, who created the world.
  • Determinator: Wilkuda, a young boy who tracked down a kangaroo for many days before finally killing it with his dog.
  • Divine Birds: Several cultures hold that the kookaburra's laugh makes the sun rise (there's an entire book about it too) and in Southeast cultures it is believed that the sun is an emu's egg. Emus are also associated with the sky gods such as Altjira, which has emu legs. Meanwhile, the black duck is the sacred animal of the Yuin.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Bunyip. There is no agreed-upon description, and it can be anything from a small creature to Ultimate Evil. According to Yowies and Bunyips and Drop Bears, Oh My "Most accounts describe it as some sort of large carnivorous, aquatic creature that dwells in billabongs (seasonal lakes) and rivers, preying on unsuspecting travellers. Some variants claim that it can become invisible, or take the form of a beautiful woman to lure in victims."
  • End of an Age: In the Lake Eyre myths, the deserts of Central Australia used to be a much more fertile place. This myth has basis in fact. When humans first arrived in Australia, it was wetter and heavily vegetated. A combination of climate change at the end of the Ice Age and fire farming led to Australia's desertification.
  • The Ferryman: The Larrpan of Yolngu culture.
  • Fertility God: Several deities are associated with fertility, particularly in relation to water. These include Wagyl from the Noongar, the Wandjina from the various cultures in the western australian "Wandjina-Wungurr" complex and Birrangulu from the Gamilaraay.
  • Fire Stolen from the Gods: In Kulin Nation lore, Waah stole the fire from the gods to give to humanity. Unlike Prometheus this was a fairly chill affair; Bunjil the Top God even asks for some coals to cook with, for which Waah screws him over for no reason.
  • Gender Bender: Ungud, a snake god who is associated with the fertility of a tribe's shaman.
  • God of Evil:
    • Marmoo serves as this to the Gamilaraay and related peoples, being the opposite to the benevolent Baiame. Unlike other examples of this trope, Marmoo has no other titles to his name other than being called a god of evil.
    • Wambeen is a minor example from Arrernte mythology as while he is considered an evil god, he mainly attacks people with lightning and never went so far as to try and destroy the world like Marmoo did.
    • Droemerdene is the Evil Twin of Moinee, the Tasmanian God of Good. Not much is known about him (you can thank genocidal British people for the destruction of most of Tasmanian culture), but he seems to have been associated with the tasmanian devil and to have a role in sending plagues.
  • God of the Moon: Most lunar deities are male. A common motif in the south is for the male moon to be chased by the sun goddess. Bahloo of the Kamilaroi religion in particular was once a friend to mankind, but after humans refused to walk his snakes as they walked their dogs he decided to curse humanity with snakes.
  • God of Thunder:
    • The Wandjina are associated with lightning flashes and bring about rain. Many depictions that boobs assumed to be bubble helmets are actually crowns made of lightning bolts.
    • Mamaragan is the Gunwinggu god of lightning. He lives in the puddle and gets out to punish the evil with bolts of divine retribution.
    • Wambeen is the God of Evil version from Arrernte mythology, throwing lightning bolts in the hopes of killing people.
  • God of Light:
    • Many sun goddesses.
    • The sky god Baiame is associated with light and the stars.
    • The Wandjina spirits are bright white. The reason for this is that they're meant to represent lightning flashes (though what they are is... complicated).
  • The Great Serpent: The Rainbow Serpent is an umbrella term for several snake divinities in these myths, most of which traditionally having little to do with each other. Some like Wungurr (from the "Wandjina-Wungurr" cultural complex in Kimberley) are essentially abstract Life-Force, while the Gamilaraay Garriya is simply a water monster. Examples of more concrete deities include Wonambi from the Wiradjuri and Wagyl from the Noongar, which are closer to what people typically envision the rainbow serpent to be (a Fertility God associated with water with intersex features responsible for shaping the landscape).
  • Humanoid Abomination: Various deities and creatures in Aboriginal myth can be considered this.
    • First there's Baiame, who is depicted as being a colossal man with white glowing eyes and elongated arms that stretch across the sky and his son Daramulum who is a shapeshifter but his primary form is a one-armed half emu like creature with one giant foot.
    • Mamaragan is described as being a "lightning man", depicted as being slender with lightning coursing through his body and having arcs on his shoulders from soaking up the sun's rays, not to mention hair or hair-like appendages that for some reason connect to his scrotum.
    • There's also Nargun, a half-human stone woman that lives under a waterfall in a den, either abducting and eating children or serving as a guardian of first-time mothers who forbids men inside her den.
    • The Yowie, Australia's version of Bigfoot, which are seen as man-eating spirt that roam the night, have human-like intelligence and are stated in some areas to have blood red eyes, tusks and mammoth like hair covering their body.
  • Light Is Not Good: Bila, the sun goddess of the Adnyamathanha. She's a cannibal that roasts her victims over a fire; that's where sunlight comes from.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: In Queensland the sun goddess is said to have many arms, representing her searing sunbeams. Other versions of this tale claim its her pubic hair instead.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Yara-ma-yha-who, who didn't drain blood for sustenance, but to keep its victims weak. Instead, it ate the person, and regurgitated them after some time, leaving them slightly redder than before. This process is repeated until the victim becomes a Yara-ma-yha-who themselves. Also, they were diurnal.
  • The Power of the Sun: The sun is Always Female in Aboriginal Australian myths, and the sun goddesses tend to have important roles in their myths.
  • Trickster God: Bamapana, from tales of the Yolngu people. Crow is also one in Kulin stories.
  • Women's Mysteries: Some of the myths and rituals may only be known to women, or only to men. Others may be known to everyone in the tribe, but only ever allowed to be recited by one gender.