The Blue Mountains are part of the Great Dividing Range of mountains that runs almost from south to north of Eastern Australia. They divide the fertile coast land from the central plains. Botany Bay, near Sydney, is the place where Captain Cook first landed in Australia in 1770. Because of the blue haze that is caused by the oil of the eucalyptus trees covering the mountain range nearby, they were soon called the Blue Mountains and thought to be impassible by the colonists, for 43 years, even though there were Aboriginal tribes living in them. There are many examples of Aboriginal art carved into the rocks.
The Blue Mountains have many spectacular ridges and gorges, peaks and valleys. Of these the fascinatingly eroded sandstone rocks of the Three Sisters are one of the best known.
There are a number of stories to explain them, and it is unsure which are original and which have been created for tourism. This is the most authentic we could find.
Aboriginal Story Telling
The Three Sisters
In Aboriginal Australian society, storytelling is an important part of everyday life and used for a variety of purposes.
It is vital in educating children about life, teaching them
how to behave, and why, and passing on important knowledge such us how and when to find various foods.
Stories are important to explain each group or clan's laws, heritage, beliefs and spirituality: stories about how the land was formed, as in the Three Sisters; about the creation of plants and animals; how people first came to Australia and spread across the land.
Story telling also passes on information about a group's important ancestral places and the boundaries of their lands.
There are also sacred stories that can only be known by some people, usually when they have reached an important time in their lives.
The elders have a responsibility for passing on the stories and many have been handed down for thousands of years - although many were lost when the Europeans landed and decimated the indigenous Aboriginal populations with disease, warfare and discriminatory laws.
One depiction of a Bunyip
Aboriginal stories of the Bunyip, lurking in swamps, riverbeds and even waterholes, are found in one form or another throughout much of Australia. They lie in wait for unsuspecting prey and will eat any living creatures they can find, much liking the flavour of children and young women! They bellow out terrifying cries into the night and people are frightened away from the water, for fear of being devoured. There are many different descriptions of Bunyips, but most quite vague, probably due to the fear of seeing one. Because of the widespread stories about the Bunyip, it is thought that one explanation might be the tribal remembrances of encounters with the huge diprotodon, a marsupial which became extinct nearly 20,000 years ago.
A lyrebird displaying
The lyre bird is an Australian bird that lives mostly on the ground. They find their food by scratching in the leafy ground, looking rather like Tyawan searching for his wand.
It has an amazing, legendary, ability to mimic accurately other birds and creatures that it hears and also sounds from the human world, like machinery and car horns - it will include any sounds it hears into its own song. Lyrebirds have extraordinary long tail feathers which the male fans out into a beautiful display, usually when courting.
The lyrebird is an ancient Australian creature; there are fossils of it dating back to 15 million years ago.