Place of the Red Kangaroo

17 Oct

The Story of Tandanya

Place of the Red Kangaroo

This is an aboriginal story about the origins of the place we now call Adelaide.

This is a Dreaming story from the days when the Kaurna people lived in Adelaide. It is based on stories told to the early settlers by the Kaurna.

One day just when winter was coming a man and woman built a strong weatherproof shelter around a big fallen tree on the banks of the Kaura Wirra. The wife was very sad because all her young children had died. One day as she was weeping outside her Wodli (shelter) a great cloud of mist came rolling down the river toward her. The cloud was a beautiful gray color with gold lights shining in it.

After a while the cloud was gone. She looked and there at her feet was a tando, a bag made of warm fur-lined skin.  Secure in this bag snuggled a baby boy.

The couple called the baby boy Tarnda and as they cared for him he grew up to become a great hunter.  In the way of things in the Dreaming Tarnda was transformed in old age into an old man kangaroo. He was greatly respected  and became the teacher of all Kaurna men of Adelaide. He taught them how to live by the law, how to hunt and be strong.

When his life was finished he threw many spears up into the sky to make a ladder. He climbed the ladder and it can still be seen shining in the southern sky every night.

The Kaurna called the place where they lived Tarndanya, which means “Tarnda’s Place.”

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