Indigenous story: How dingoes got their camouflage and kangaroos got their eyesight

Kamilaroi woman Aunty Suellyn Tighe lives in Coonabarabran in the NSW Pilbara. For the first time, she has permission to publicly share the first level of a local First Nations story used to describe the idea of balance to children. It involves dingoes and kangaroos.

Video transcript


AUNTY SUELLYN TIGHE: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] So that's, like, long ago in the dream time. Basically the understanding is that man and dingos or in our word [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] and kangaroos and emus and all that were sort of all initially friendly, but then it became different. The dingoes were not different what we see them today, so they were all different sizes. They were different colors, and their colors stood out in the environment. I'm not saying that they were green or rainbow colored, but they were not the colors that we see today.

At one stage, they had an argument with the kangaroos, and it was because the dingoes would always speak up and try to scare the kangaroos. And what happened was the kangaroos used to always laugh at them and say we can see you coming from miles away. We can see you coming 'cause your colors are so bright, and we can hear you because you are so noisy.

And your children are unruly. Look at our lovely nice children. You know, they are well mannered, and they are quiet. And they-- we can carry them in our pocket in our pockets.

And because of this was going backwards and forwards, [INAUDIBLE] says, well, OK, then. The kangaroos are being a little arrogant, and the dingoes are being loud and noisy and disrespectful. So he's going to level the playing field a little bit here.

So what he says to the dingoes, OK, so because yous are so bright, your colors are all bright and colored and people can see you coming from a mile away, and change your color to the same color as the native grasses that were growing. So that's strawy looking color. So he changes that. And he also said to the kangaroos, well, to balance that, well, OK, then so now they're more difficult to see. So I'm going to give you better eyesight so you can see the dingoes coming and said to the dingoes then said, right, your howl is so noisy, your bark is so noisy, so I'm going to change that. It's going to become quieter. And your children are so loud and noisy, so I'm going to change and give you a softer howl.

So he said to the kangaroos because they are now softer and you can't hear them coming from so far away, I'm going to give you better hearing so that your ears can move in all directions so that you can hear.

So I suppose this whole story is about balance and about making sure that everything is in balance and that if there's a perceived advantage, there's a counterbalance on the other side of the equation. And, yeah, so I think that's-- the story is about basically about balance.