The upper reaches of the Clarence. Bundjalung people tell many stories of the river system's creator, an old woman named Dirrangun.
The upper reaches of the Clarence. Bundjalung people tell many stories of the river system's creator, an old woman named Dirrangun. Simon Hughes

Keep our ancient river free-flowing

I HOPE everyone is safe from the bushfires that are around us at this time.

We desperately need lots of rain to extinguish the fires and to break the drought. It's so heartbreaking to hear of the destruction caused by the widespread bushfires and of towns out west like Walgett that have run out of water.

What is also really concerning is that conversations have started again about the desires of some to divert or dam rivers such as our beautiful Clarence River to address the issue of the lack of water out west.

No - no diversion and no damming.

The Clarence River should be allowed to flow unhindered as it has for thousands of years, giving life to this amazing valley we call home.

To honour our mighty river, I would just like to share with you this week the Bundjalung story of how it was created:

"Somewhere in the mountains near Tooloom, in those forests of tall trees, somewhere in those mountains hidden by drifting mists the old woman Dirrangun kept hidden her sacred spring. This old woman didn't want anyone to know where the water was. It was good water and she used to get it herself. But one day she was sick and there was a young man called Buloogan. He was a very well built young man - he was handsome. She asked Buloogan if he would go and get the water and she sent him up to this secret spring. She had to direct him and tell him where it was.

"So Buloogan set off into the mountains to get some of the water in a bark Coolamon. When he got to the water, he found that Dirrangun had dammed the water up. The Buloogan broke the dam and water started to run away.

"When Dirrangun saw the water coming, she started to try and dam the water. But the water began to come faster and wider. These mountains that you see here are the dams that Dirrangun made to stop the water. But the water broke through them. And at last the water came down and went into the sea which we call in the language Burragga. That is how this river, the Clarence, came to be here. Mount Ogilvie that's one of the dams Dirrangun made. The Gorge down below Baryulgil is the place of the last dam that Dirrangun made. But the water broke through.

"When the water got down to Yamba, Dirrangun realised that she couldn't stop it, so she cursed it and made it salt so that no one could drink it. Somewhere in the mouth of the Clarence is the last stand of Dirrangun as she tried to stop the water. She threw herself in front of the water to try and stop it but the water just rushed over her and she was turned into stone."

There are many different versions of this story of Dirrangun and how she made the Clarence River.

This particular version was told by respected elder the late Aunty Lucy Daley of Baryulgil. I would like to thank her grand-daughter Carmel for seeking permission for me to reproduce this story in this column. I would also like to wish Aunty Lucy's daughter Aunty Heather Monaghan a happy 80th birthday for Monday.

Giinagay Jinggiwahla ("hello" in our first nation languages) is a weekly column covering the Indigenous communities of the Clarence Valley exploring a variety of topics, opinions and events acrfoss our first nation areas Bundjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr.



Plane crash victims identified

premium_icon Plane crash victims identified

The father and son hailed from the Gold Coast

Little riders put in huge efforts at 2019 Ride for Youth

premium_icon Little riders put in huge efforts at 2019 Ride for Youth

Youngsters combined for more than 400 laps at the annual fund raiser

5 NCAS programs open for entry ahead of 2020 Academy Games

premium_icon 5 NCAS programs open for entry ahead of 2020 Academy Games

Sign ups are now open for a number of sporting programs.