[Nŭnnŭng-ngŭt?]] was formerly a great man. At
that time there was only one Emu and that Emu had
two very large eggs. All the totems (birds) tried to kill this Emu
but it killed many of them. They then sent for the bat
and he killed the Emu. There was a great meeting
of all the blacks and the Emu was roasted in an
oven and eaten - the Bat shared it out among
all the totems. The man who carried the Emu
to the cooking oven was ( ) which is a
little bird with a black front to its head a black
neck and white back. They did not give him any
of the cooked meat. He therefore wentaway and cried
and rubbing his eyes with his knuckles made
them black as they now are. This little bird
is not however one of the totems.
In playing a game at ball which they
kicked about the different totems
present took different sides and
there were men and women on each side
eg. Gartchŭka men and women against
Wūrant men and women.

Johnny remembers that he, his mother, and her mother
all played on the same side at ball. -------

His cousin George played with the Wūrant
in the other side.

[Left hand margin]
See contra

There were also stories
about Yernt = moon
and Gertūk = morepork

Notes and Questions

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Could "morepork" = Mopoke?


Hi Christine, I have read Howitt using morepork elsewhere. I know that there is both a morepork bird and of course the mopoke, so I am not sure which Howitt is referencing here. It would be interesting to know which bird the Wotjobaluk identify as the Gertuk, as it may help to clarify Howitt's intentions here.


Prior to 1999 the Mopoke and the Morepork were considered the same species (Wikipedia).
The species now described as the Morepork inhabits New Zealand and Tasmania. So it might be possible that historically in Australia the two terms were used interchangeably or perhaps by different people to refer to the same bird.

The Mopoke which found on the Australian mainland (although probably in trees rather than on land) is now called boobook this word is from the Dharuk language, recorded as Bōkbōk ‘An owl’ by William Dawes https://www.williamdawes.org/ms/msview.php?image-id=book-b-page-3&edited=true&note-id=note-bokbok


Two language sources relevant here are Hercus’ work on the djadjala lect as found in Victorian Languages: A Late Survey (1987) and more recently Blake's Dialects of Western Kulin (2011)
Hercus (Victorian Languages: A Late Survey) records a shape 'gaḍug' however the exact species is uncertain, and the gloss is given as ‘Probably the barn owl’. The practice of using the diacritic dot below the ‘d’ is from the study of Sanskrit and is used to indicate a retroflex quality. Here Howitt has represented this retroflex sound with a consonant cluster ‘rt’.
Blake (Dialects of Western Kulin) collates historical sources and summaries a shape 'kartuk' which is glossed as 'Mopoke'. It occurs as 'kaRuk' in the eastern lects demonstrating the sound correspondence of /rt/ to /r/ as discussed by Blake.