Yirradwor – Magpie

Yirradwor Once there was a Pangerang family who had very mischievous twin boys. The Elders of the clan told the parents they must paint white ochre onto the back of one maldiga (boy) so everyone could tell them apart.

One day, the clan joined a neighbouring clan for a meeting and corroboree and discovered the neighbouring Elders were having similar issues with twin girls. The neighbouring Elders decided to paint the back of one meegay (girl) with white ochre.

Years later, the boys met the girls. It was love at first sight and they asked to marry. Eventually the Elders decided the twins could marry, however the white-backed ones were to marry each other and were to keep their backs painted with white ochre until the Elders of both clans were satisfied they could be trusted to behave.

After the two sets of twins married, their mischievous ways began to reappear, only this time it was double trouble. This almost caused a war between the clans. Just as the first boondithurra (spear) was about to fly, a dark cloud filled with tumbarumba (thunder) and Mikkee (lightning) suddenly appeared above and Byamee himself stepped down from it.

He stared at both sets of twins, reached out and grabbed the white-backed couple with one murra (hand) and the black-backed couple with the other, holding them high so everyone could see.

Byamee told the white-backed couple to stay to the south and west, and the black-backed couple to stay north and east. Then he threw them into the sky and away they flew. He had changed them into Yirradwor (magpies)!

If you are ever travelling south west toward Bendigo, you will notice all the magpies have black backs until you reach a town called Goornong. From then on, you will notice all the magpies have white backs. Now you know why!