Wamparla Apira

Possums and Tall Trees

An Arabana story by Thanthi Syd Strangways

Arabana wathlunga ngurra thangkarda intyarranga pitha kulpa arla wanina nguru. Arabana pitha nhiki karinha pithlarnda “Apira”.
In Arabana country, there is a place where very tall trees grow. Arabana people call these trees “apira”. (Pitha is the name for the Box-tree but is often used for trees in general.)

Wamparla awardanga thangkarnapuka.
Possums used to live at that place.

Wamparla balkarli thapili tharnirnapuka.
The possums used to eat the newly grown leaves.

Balkarli thapili nyinta nhutu tharnilimaru wamparla tyurrkuwalathiangu mani nhuka nhutu.
From eating the new leaves and other vegetation, the possums grew strong and fat too.

Wamparla walta warrunga puntyu ngurrku arla Arabanakunha.
In the old days, possums were good food for Arabana people.

Nharla Arabana apiranga wankaka wamparla yanka ngarunga manilhuku. Mupuru kiraru nhutu wamparla pirtaka wathlunga wathawayangura.
Arabana people climbed the tall trees to take the possums from their hollows. They killed any they found walking about on the ground, with boomerangs and hunting sticks.

Wamparla pultyi Arabanaru thantha tyirrka-tyirrkaka madlinga alpa thangkalhuku.
The Arabana people fashioned possum pelts into clothes to keep warm in winter.

Apityi anthunharu anhanha nguntaka wamparla thangkapukanha Yarripulanha awardanga. Nhuka nhuka maltya nhuk-arla uka wiya wiyanga.
My father told me that there were possums living at that place, Yarripulanha, when he was a boy. Not many but just a few.

Arabana wita nharlakarinha nguntaka wamparla awarda kari thamina. Maltya thani. Wamparla wapililira.
The Arabana elders told the Arabana people in general that the possums in that place were sacred. Do not eat them lest they become extinct.

Ilanha. Apityi anthunha nguntaka warrupukanga.
Like that. That is what my father told me a long time ago.

Arabana wathlu nhikinha pidlhara Yarripulanha. Pidlha Ularaka nganha. Mathapurda Thanpili kunha. Kumpirri Birri Birrinha.
Arabana call this place “Yarripulanha”. The name comes from Ularaka. The Ularaka of old manThanpili. The Dead Spirit.

First published in 2018 by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (www.ilf.org.au)

Copyright © Thanthi Syd Strangways, 2018

ISBN 978-0-9944654-7-4