Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Long Memory

“At Busselton the melok – salmon trout – was represented by one old man, who sang for me the melok songs of the spawning season while he imitated the movements of the great spate, 
and told me the legend of huge cannibal dogs that daily hunted human flesh, carrying men in their mouths to their lair. This legend attained a curious significance when fossil bones of a flesh eating sthenurus were discovered in the Margaret River caves in the vicinity."

Daisy Bates, My Natives and I, Hesperian Press, Western Australia, 2004, p. 69.


  1. Just back from Vanuatu and catching up on your posts. Prolific and beautiful as per usual. Your photos and stories take me back to the islands. Nature and living off the land is so direct, so real. Coming home to technology and city life seems a bit stupid at one level. And then 24 hours later I've adjusted.
    Your man eating dog story reminds me of how storytelling cultures can carry so much information from one generation to the next. There was an anthropological dig on an island near Port Vila in recent decades which uncovered the remains of a famous warrior (Chief Roy Mata) carbon dated to approx 1200AD. The site revealed him buried precisely the way the story has been told for 800 years.

  2. How curious you posted this today... maybe the huge cannibal dogs were not the Sthenurus (which was apparently a herbivorous giant kangaroo) but the flesh eating Thylacoleo.
    One was found in the same caves complex as my petrified friend. http://antipodeannemo.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/end-of-last-of-giants.html

  3. Could the old man jump up a waterfall?

  4. Awesome. More evidence of how old the Aboriginal culture is. Sad how that seems to escape most Australians.

  5. That's an amazing story Mr Hat.
    I was thinking Lion too, Nemo. I guess, like any other human culture, the Old People competed with predator and competitor. So, if that theory works, what happened to the giant kangaroos and wombats?
    Tom. No, silly. Different kind of salmon
    MF, old, old, old - and what a memory!

  6. lunch? http://www.australasianscience.com.au/article/issue-may-2012/australias-megafauna-extinctions-cause-and-effect.html

  7. Pretty cool magazine. I'd like a hard copy - the rest of the articles look great too - deep sea fish hooks hmmm. That (megafauna) article was odd because they seemed to come to some kind of conclusion and then refuted it by saying that the megafauna were already gone by the time humans arrived. I'm confused. And late.

  8. this one covers the research in a bit more detail http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/online/5445/megafauna-hunters-changed-australian-bush?page=0%2C0