Moonda Nurra – A dreamtime story from Hughenden.

The Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime stories are an integral part of the rich and diverse culture of the indigenous peoples of Australia. These stories, also known as ‘Dreaming’ or ‘Jukurrpa’ in some Aboriginal languages, are a collection of myths, legends, and creation stories that have been passed down orally from generation to generation for tens of thousands of years. They hold deep spiritual and cultural significance for the Aboriginal peoples, as they offer a powerful connection to the land, the natural world, and the spiritual realm. These stories continue to inspire, guide and captivate people all over the world.

Recently the Flinders Shire Council worked alongside Glen Star from Star Steel Art in collaboration with the Yirendali Traditional Owners of the Hughenden region to create ‘Moonda Nurra’. Moonda Nurra is the rainbow serpent and we were privileged to learn more about the dreamtime story of Moonda Nurra and her significance to the Yirendali people.

This story comes from the ‘Yirendali’ people who were the traditional custodians of the Hughenden region. 

Moonda Nurra 

Moonda Nurra is held in high regard as Yirendali people’s spiritual essence and creator of birth, life, death, and the spiritual world. She gives us strength in faith with sacred gifts of life, its property and sacredness of relations with all its creations that make Yirendali country special.

Moonda Nurra lives in the natural springs of the northern highlands of Hughenden and within Yirendali Spirituality and the Heart of our Cultural Landscape.  She Is the creator of our cultural ecology, its lakes, rivers, gilgies, soakages, and springs that flow into the Great Artesian Basin and the Gulf.

She is the creator of our Ancestors, our sacred values, beliefs, and fiduciary responsibility for all creatures great and small. Before the world, as we know it, everything was in shades of grey. At the first light of Kurri (sun), she rose from the bottom of the northern springs to procreate and in search of a mate. She travelled to the top of Yirendali, Ngawun, Mbara and Mithakoodi country — feeling exhausted, she slept curled up in a water hole near the modern-day Gilliat Channels bridge — then journeyed to Tooleybuc Station — where she courted and mated with a male serpent from the Burke River.

She wanted him to return home to Yirendali country, however, he did not follow — she got very upset, so upset that she spewed up all her Tando (eggs- the round stones scattered across the country). She returned, back across the Boagrakulla-boonery (Mitchell grass downs country) and carved the ranges and lands of the great lakes of Galilee and Buchannan and climbed up onto the highlands where she stood tall on the White Mountains and ‘wailed and wailed’. She was so upset crying for her lover, her tears tumble down and became the Paggurry (rain) which filled her tracks to flow the heavenly waters, and her moaning and groaning roared as Koro (thunder) and her eyes glistened as angry Pilmunno (lightning) strikes that erupted with Poorree (fire). She blew her breath of Barrookka (winds) so strongly that out flowed animals, birds, insects, fish, kangaroo, wombats, snakes, goannas, frogs, butterflies, crickets, bees, and plants brushed, all colours of the Woggurree (rainbow).

White Mountains – “…where she stood tall on the White Mountains and ‘wailed and wailed”

Her legacy is painted and carved in the sandstone mountains and ranges, alongside the ancient marks of our Yirendali Ancestors, their hands, feet, boomerangs, axe heads, plants, animal tracks, sun, stars, moon, and symbols of water that honour the secular life of Yirendali society. Kammoo (water) held sacred — to heal, cleanse and sustain life cycles, is forever etched in Yirendali Spirituality and customs that embrace our heavenly stars & ecology.

When she finally succumbed to her sadness and broken heart, she returned to her Yirendali homeland and submerged back into the underground rivers, and if you go there today and look quietly into the waters, gently wash your hands and face, so she can smell your presence, and you will see her breath and gentleness, rising as small bubbles gently floating to the surface, reminding us that she is still “alive and breathing, for she is the ‘Keeper’ of Yirendali Country and our People since time immemorial”.

Moonda Nurra — aka Yirendali female serpent

Remanent Salt Lakes — lake Buchanan and the spiritual waters of Lake Galilee is a significant spiritual place for the Healing Waters of Yirendali women’s birthing.

Story shared by JFHill Yirendali 2021

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