Bargunyji

In our Dreaming a long, long time ago, back in the creation times when the Yindjibarndi believed the world was soft, on the tablelands along the blue Ranges our people call Gamburdaynha and around the Fortescue River – Yarnda Nyirranha, in the cracks and gorges there lived Bargunyji a snake that had teeth like knives and the taste for flesh.

In these times there also lived a Marrga man called Bulinjilmanha who was the first Ngarda man who lived on these lands. He became the guardian and storyteller of Yindjibarndi culture and left his work and markings on the rocks for Ngardangarli to learn.

One day Bulinjimanha went out hunting. He came to a small waterhole and bent down to quench his thirst. As he drank and cooled himself he became wary that he was being watched..

He had the feeling that he was not alone…

And stayed on his guard.

As he bent down to take one last drink, Bargunyji sprang out of a rock cave at Bulinjilmanha, his mouth wide open ready to swallow him. Bulinjilmanha saw the snake flying at him and at that moment he stepped aside — the snake missed him by an inch and left his teeth-marks on the ground. The snake stood up and their eyes met, and then Bulinjilmanha started to run.

Bulijilmanha ran and ran right across Yindjibarndi country with Bargunyji close behind. He ran for miles and miles trying to shake Bargunyji off of his tail, but Bargunyji knew that sooner or later Bulinjilmanha was going to get tired and would give up running.

Bulinjilmanha kept looking behind him the snake always behind, gaining, and baring his teeth in hunger. Bulinjilmanha was beginning to tire, And the snake came on, closer still.

He led Bargunyji up and down the hills, through gorges, across the rivers and across the plains, but the snake wasn’t giving up or getting tired.

Bulinjilmanha then started singing a song of himself as he ran. This song started to mark the snake dizzy, drowsy and made the his vision blur.

Bulinjilmanha knew this would be his last chance to escape. The snake was starting to hallucinate and become anxious, snapping his jaws and becoming frenzied for his prey.

As the song Bulinjilmanha sang confused the snake more and more, Bulinjilmanha knew this was the time to save his life.

In the distance he saw a large snappy gum tree and he ran toward it, he wanted to lead the snake to the tree while it was bewildered — as the drug of the song was making him heavy and angry.

The snake continued snapping with frustration, desperate for his prey, Bulinjilmanha knew that the snake would to reach him any second now.

Before the snake could rip him,he leapt into the snappy gum tree and climbed right to the top.

The snake, still drowsy, bit hard into the snappy gum, pumping all his poison and smashing all his teeth as he attacked the tree thinking all the while that it was Bulinjilmanha.

Now, to this day, Bargunyji has no teeth or poison, and when you cut open the snappy gum tree, the red sap that drips out is Bargunyji’s poison.

Bargunyji is harmless to humans now.

You can still see him living out his days in the gorges and rockholes on the tablelands along the blue Ranges our people call Gamburdaynha and around the Fortescue River – Yarnda Nyirranha

part of Gamburdaynha
part of Gamburdaynha