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The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling

The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling: Mura track narratives from the 'Corner Country'

Jeremy Beckett
Luise Hercus
Volume: 18
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling
    Book Description:

    The 'Corner Country', where Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales now converge, was in Aboriginal tradition crisscrossed by the tracks of the mura, ancestral beings, who named the country as they travelled, linking place to language. Reproduced here is the story of the two Ngatyi, Rainbow Serpents, who travelled from the Paroo to the Flinders Ranges and back as far as Yancannia Creek, where their deep underground channels linked them back to the Paroo. Jeremy Beckett recorded these stories from George Dutton and Alf Barlow in 1957. Luise Hercus, who has worked on the languages in the area for many years, has collaborated with Jeremy Beckett to analyse the names and identify the places.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-93-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-ix)
    Badger Bates
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    The boundaries of New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland come together at Cameron’s Corner: the surrounding areas of those three states are known as ‘the Corner Country’.

    Both geographically and culturally the Corner Country is a very special place. It is west of the Darling and the other big rivers that come down from Queensland and flow into the Murray-Darling Basin. The Cooper Basin is not far to the north, but the only major river that flows right into the area, the Bulloo, forms a drainage basin of its own. After rains in the northern part of the Grey...

  6. 2 The two rainbow serpents: original texts
    (pp. 25-34)

    Texts (Sections 2.1. to 2.4.) are presented here exactly as recorded in notebooks by Jeremy Beckett in 1957-8. This means that the original spelling used in the notebooks has been retained here: it is based on the then newly practiced system of Arthur Capell.¹ In this spelling ‘j’ represents the sound of ‘y’ as in ‘yes’, and voiced consonants are used instead of the now preferred unvoiced consonants: that is ‘g’ is used instead of ‘k’, ‘d’ instead of ‘t’ and ‘b’ instead of ‘p’.

    They started off from Ularada waterhole (that’s on the Paroo 6-7 miles south of Wanaaring)....

  7. 3 Geographical names in the Two Ngatyi stories
    (pp. 35-84)

    There is a widespread popular opinion that Australian Aboriginal placenames all had some sort of descriptive meaning, and that names like ‘Meeting of the Waters’, and ‘Meeting Place’ were widely used. Much of the recent work on placenames, as for instance the paper by Peter Sutton shows that this was not the case.¹ There is great variation in the way placenames were formed, and there are regional differences too. One can generally find the following types of names:

    1. Names that are just that: they cannot be analysed and their formation is lost in the mist of time. Attempting to...

  8. 4 References
    (pp. 85-90)
  9. 5 Appendix: Transcription of Aboriginal vocabulary
    (pp. 91-94)