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Crocodile took the fire stick

The crocodile took a fire stick with which to make a fire, for there was then none in the world. But every time he tried he broke the drill stick. Soon his hands were cut and bleeding and broken fire sticks lay about. Then the frilled lizard arrived. He sat down and continued work on a basket that he had started. The crocodile asked him to try making fire. The frilled lizard, who had fire sticks of his own in the basket, told the crocodile that he had been gripping the drill incorrectly, and then made fire. 'Waku (sister's son) of mine,' said the crocodile, 'it is a good thing you are my relative and it is a good thing that you made fire for us, for all people.' The crocodile took grass, lit it, and built a huge fire.

Finally, a myth from the Dalabon in Beswick Reserve shows how the crocodile selfishly guarded fire for himself only, until he was tricked by the rainbow bird who gave the fire to men.

The crocodile possessed fire sticks. The rainbow bird would ask for fire, but was knocked back every time. The rainbow bird was without fire. He had no light. He slept without a camp fire and ate his food of fish, goanna, lizards and mussels raw. The rainbow bird could not get fire because the crocodile was 'boss' for fire and would knock him back saying, 'You can't take fire!'

'What am I to do for men? Are they to eat raw food?'

'They can eat it raw. I won't give you fire sticks!'

The crocodile had fire. No man made it. The crocodile had had fire from a long time ago. Then the rainbow bird put fire everywhere. Every tree has fire inside now. It was the rainbow bird who put fire inside.

The rainbow bird spoke. 'Wirid, wirid, wirid!' He climbed into a tree, a dry place, a dry tree. Down he came, like a jet plane, to snatch the fire sticks, but the crocodile had them clutched to his breast. Again and again the rainbow bird tried.

'You eat raw food,' the crocodile told him. 'I'm not giving you fire.'

'I want fire. You are too mean. If I had had fire I would have given it to you. Wirid, wirid, wirid, wirid, wirid!' Down he came. He missed. He flew up. 'Wirid, wirid, wirid!' They argued again.

'I'm not giving you fire. You are only a little man. Me, I'm a big man. You eat raw food!'

The rainbow bird was angry. 'Why do you knock me back all the time?'

The crocodile turned around for a moment. Snatch! The rainbow bird had the fire stick! 'Wirid, wirid, wirid!' Away he flew.

The crocodile could do nothing. He has no wings. The rainbow bird was above. 'You can go down into the water,' he called. 'I'm going to give fire to men!' The rainbow bird put fire everywhere, in every kind of tree except the pandanus. He made light, he burned, he cooked fish, crocodile, tortoise.

The crocodile had gone down into the water. The two had separated.

'I'll be a bird. I'll go into dry places,' the rainbow bird called out. 'You can go into the water. If you go to dry places you might die. I'll stay on top.'

The rainbow bird put the fire sticks in his behind. They stick out from there now. That was a long time ago.

Story courtesy of Australian Dreaming: 40 000 Years of Aboriginal History (1980) comp. Jennifer Isaacs, Lansdome Press, Sydney, NSW, p. 106