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Artist's Rendering

In the mythology of Bundjalung Nation (represented by 15 Australian Aboriginal tribes, within which are many groups, clans and bands), the Dirawong (a goanna) is the Creator Being that taught the people; the Aboriginal astronomy, body designs, bullroarers, bush cosmetics, bush foods, bush medicines, cave paintings and designs cut into trees, ceremonial headgear, ceremonial poles, cultural lore, dances, dreamings, games, geographical locations, how people are required to behave in their communities, initiations, laws of community, paintings, rock art, rock engravings, rules for social behavior, sacred chants, sacred earth mounds, sacred ground paintings, song lines, songs, stone artifacts, stone objects, stories, structures of society, symbols, technologies, the ceremonies performed in order to ensure continuity of life and land, values, wooden articles, wooden sacred objects, and also the beliefs, values, rules and practices concerning the peoples relationship to the land and water of Widje tribal territory within Bunjalung country.

It is known as a benevolent protector of its people (in the Bundjalung Nation) from the Rainbow Snake (also known as the 'Snake' or 'Rainbow Serpent').



Aboriginal Rendering

In the Bundjalung Nation’s (Coastal New South Whales) mythology, one of the first dream time creatures to appear is that of the Dirawong, a large and "snake necked" Goanna (an Australian monitor lizard) that is believed to have shared with the Bundjalung a vast range of knowledge, teaching them everything from astronomy to medicine. The reptile is said to have a long neck, described as "snake like", similar to the Giraffe of Africa.

The Dirawong is known as the protector of its people from the Rainbow Serpent. The immense Rainbow Serpent was thought to inhabit certain waterholes. An epic battle was fought between the Dirawong and Rainbow Serpent. The legendary struggle resulted in the creation of parts of the Richmond River, Snake Island, and Pelican Island. The Goanna Headland at Evans Head, in New South Wales is believed to be the Dirawong’s physical body guarding against the snakes return.


animalia > tetrapoda > reptilia > squamata > varanidae