Local Legends

Throughout the Corner Country there are many local sites association with legends and workplaces known to the local Aboriginal groups. These are culturally sensitive and have not been not been identified within the Sturt’s Steps project.

Some legends have been written down and able to be shared. Several are common to Aboriginal people across Australia but have local variations.

This material has been prepared by local Aboriginal advisers.


The Koonenberry Range lays proudly over the plains to the east of Packsaddle. The ancestor, Coolooberroo, caught a large kangaroo and skinned the animal to make a giant bag to carry water. The Kooningberrie was formed where the kangaroo lay down to die. The body of the kangaroo now dominates the landscape. Its head is clearly defined, as are the bones of its tail, which form the small hills at the other end of the range. Coolooberroo used his waterbag to fill the rivers.


The story of the Ngatyi explains how the rivers, creeks and waterholes were created.

There were two Ngatyi, one male and one female. The female laid her eggs at Jularda, the waterhole near Wanaaring on the Paroo River.

Both Ngatyi left Kinchega and travelled west, f orming waterholes on their journey and naming each site, using the local languages. They travelled from the Paroo, through Yancannia, Nuntherungie, to Cobham Lake, Coally Bore, up through Yandama, Tibooburra, then west into South Australia. They rolled around and formed lakes.

The Ngatyi offspring hatched and travelled underground, following their parents. They created the underground water systems across both sand and stone Country. This trail is marked by the Kamuru (Willow Trees) so people can follow during daylight and they also navigated by the stars.

The Ngatyi were turned back by others at Maliga and with their offspring retreated to their waterhole on the Paroo.

Another story has the Ngatyi dying at Bralana Hot Springs (SA).

What is certain is that the story of the Ngatyi sustained the Aboriginal people of the far western NSW by providing a water source for many thousands of years. Following colonisation, these stories were integral to the pastoralists as the Aboriginal stock men and women shared their knowledge in driving stock across the Country, always knowing where they could find the next waterhole for survival in an arid land.

Translations: Ngatyi is Paakantji, Kakurra is Malyangapa, Paritha is Wonkumara


Kalthi, the emu, flies horizontally across the sky throughout the year, chasing her suitors. She can be seen in what is now known as the Milky Way. During March and April she stands vertically, then sits her tail toward ground as she lays her talthi (eggs). Aboriginal people then know it is time to collect eggs from the nests. The father emu fiercely guards the nest, if he refuses to leave we know the eggs are fertilised and leave them alone. The female emu continues her chase.

The Legend of the Sturt Pea

Aboriginal folk lore explains the origin of the glorious Sturt Pea which has become the floral emblem of the Broken Hill district, in the following way.

A young and beautiful maiden was promised in “The Dreamtime” to a warrior who made her a cloak of red parrot feathers. From a distance she would follow her lover in the tribal wars, faithfully roaming the trackless wastes to be near him.

Drought years brought famine to the tribe and the young warrior was one who went far afield in search of food. During his absence the maiden kept lonely vigil, refusing to leave the place of farewell after the tribe had moved on. Their last view of her was of a red cloak surrounding her black head as she knelt in hopeful prayer. Neither she nor her lover were seen again.