Nyinkara: The Stone Man

In the Yindjibarndi Dreaming a long, long time ago, up on the tablelands along the Fortescue River, lived a group of Yindjibarndi people going about their daily lives.

Everything and everybody who lived in their camps was happy, without a fear or care in the world. All the men, women and kids enjoyed their life of sharing and caring for one another.

But there also lived another man who was different to the rest of the Ngaardangarli. He stood about ten foot tall and his entire body was made of stone. This person was a mean man who brought with him hate, fear and greed to the Ngaarda camps. He was called Nyinkara, the stone man. Nyinkara lived high on the hills, far from the Ngaardangarli and their camps and only came down to the camps when he was hungry.

The Ngaardangarli could hear him coming from miles away from the loud stomping noises he made as he came down from the hills walking toward the camps. The Ngaardangarli would run around panicking, hiding their kids away and preparing for Nyinkara the meat loving, greedy stone-man. The men in the camps would always be ready for Nyinkara, with fresh meat from the hunters who always went out hunting for him.

As Nyinkara reached the camps, the Ngaardangarli would always meet him with freshly cooked meat, hospitality and happy entertainment like songs and dancing, while Nyinkara sat high on his throne taking this all from the Ngaardangarli.

In the past, when the Ngaardangarli didn’t have any fresh meat ready because no one in the camps had gone out hunting, the punishment Nyinkara laid down was death. He would smash the Ngaardangarli with his thumping blows, and because his hands were big and hard, there was no one or nothing that could stand in his way. He would also use his other powers to kill the Ngaardangarli by opening his eye and staring at them, thus burning their souls.

The Ngaardangarli quickly learned that they all must stick to Nyinkara’s rules, or he would bring death among camps. But they were also getting fed up with Nyinkara and his greedy, lazy ways. The talk among the camps was all the same, that they must do something about Nyinkara. So all the Ngaardangarli came together to talk about their anger toward Nyinkara.

The young men who were strong enough all agreed that it was time to fight. Their mission was to kill Nyinkara. The old men all gathered to give their support to the younger men and told them to call out to the gods. The gods responded by telling the men to set a trap for Nyinkara. In the morning should go out and bring back a kangaroo, then climb the highest hill and put the kangaroo on top with its tail sticking out of the rocks for Nyinkara to see. They should separate the tail from the kangaroo’s body and loosen the rocks at the footing where Nyinkara will stand. The gods told the men they should dig a great big hole and fill it with fire at the bottom of the hill.

Nyinkara came to the camp and the men told him there was a fat kangaroo high on the hill with its tail sticking out of the rocks. Nyinkara loved eating meat, especially fat kangaroo tails, so he climbed the hill and found the tail sticking out of the rocks like the men had said.

Nyinkara gave a mighty pull on the tail to yank the kangaroo out from the rocks, not knowing the tail had been separated from the kangaroo. He stumbled back and slipped on the loose ground, falling and rolling down the hill into the big hole of fire. Nyinkara the great stone man fell to his death.

Nyinkara’s whole body was burned, and the flames were so hot they scattered Nyinkara’s body all over the country. Nowadays in Yindjibarndi country the colours of the rocks represent Nyinkara’s body. The white is Nyinkara’s bones, the red is his blood, the yellow is the fat from Nyinkara’s body, the black is his liver, while the brown is Nyinkara’s hair.

Nyinkara the great stone man died because of his hate, his greed, because he had no heart and because he held no feelings of kindness to anyone.

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