“Dreamtime” story of the Emus

Dreamtime stories are stories that reveal the Aboriginal understanding of why the world operates in the way that it does. The Dreamtime, according to the Aboriginals, is the beginning of all the world’s knowledge, and from this, laws came into existence that must be observed in order to survive. These stories were told in places such as Red Centre in the Northern Territory in order to explain the order of the universe. A lot of these stories featured the Australian animal, the Emu, which is a flightless bird. One of these classic Aboriginal Dreamtime stories explains the reason that the Emu cannot fly, and it goes as follows:

Dinewan the Emu and Goomble-Gubbon the Plain Turkey

The Emu was the largest of all the other birds in Australia, and thus came to be acknowledged as king by all of the other birds that inhabited the area. The Turkeys, however, were all quite jealous of the elite status of the Emus and found their kingship to be extremely unfair. One Turkey in particular was especially enraged by the Emu’s size and consequent position of power among the birds. Her name was Goomble-Gubbon, and she was the mother of all of the Turkeys. She would enviously observe the Emus as they ran swiftly through the plains and took to great heights in the sky as they flew, mighty and powerful.

As time went on, Goomble-Gubbon’s anger and jealousy at the Emus only grew as she observed them flaunting their size, speed, and high flights. She slowly concocted a plan to knock the Emus off of their pedestal and give herself and her children a fair shot at competing with them for supremacy. Goomble-Gubbon fiercely believed that the time had come for the rein of the Emus to end once and for all.

Goomble Gubbon chose Dinewan the Emu to be her victim. Rather than pick a fight with Dinewan, however, Goomble-Gubbon decided to trick the Emus into falling to their demise. She strategically waited for the right moment to strike.

One day, Goomble-Gubbon spotted Dinewan in the distance running in her direction. She squatted down in a fashion that effectively blocked her wings from the view of the oncoming Emu. In doing this, Goomble-Gubbon successfully tricked the Emus into cutting their own wings off.

The Turkey laughed aloud in triumph, jumping up and down to celebrate her successful victory over the longtime king of the birds. She joyfully declared, “Ha ha ha, you have been de-thrones, you stumpy wings. My wings are still attached, but now you will never be able to fly again, for the rest of for days! Ha ha ha!”

The Emu was absolutely devastated at how naïve and gullible she had been to fall for the jealous Turkey’s trick. She cursed herself and vowed to get her revenge on Goomble-Gubbon for the injustice she had committed. Like Goomble-Gubbon had done before, she carefully waited for the right moment to enact her plan for revenge.

One day, the Emu got two of her young ones to follow her and left the others in another spot. She walked proudly passed Goomble-Gubbon the Turkey with her head held high and laughed at the Turkey and all of her children.

Goomble-Gubbon asked the Emu why she had just two of her children and the Emu told her, “It is so much easier to find food for all my children with only two. It is difficult to gather enough food with as many as twelve children.”

Realizing that Dinewan the Emu had a good point with this statement, the plain turkey immediately killed all of her children but two of them. The Emu then laughed at the Turkey and declared, “You foolish Turkey. I tricked you—I can find food for all my twelve children. Now you have only two while my children are alive and well. That is what you get for getting me to cut off my wings with your dirty trick.

Ever since these events transpired, the Emu has been unable to fly, and the Plain Turkey can only lay two eggs per season.