Bullung and Bulland - Richard Walley, Traditional Owner (Pindjarup region)

Retold by Richard Walley, traditional owner of the Pindjarup region. This story uses two local birds to provide moral advice.

Bullung, bootallung, Neer-im-ba

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Bullung and bulland, which is the pelican and the crane; that's a short little one. They were two brothers and they were both skinny at the time. The pelican was never, ever big and they were both same shape as the crane. They went fishing and during this particular fishing expedition, the old crane stood at one end of the stream and he was looking for the fish and the pelican stood at the other end. 

Then what happened, the fish would swarm around and the pelican would grab one. He thought it was only one and he didn't want to share it. So when old bullung walked up to him, said `how are you going?', bulland said `Grmmrrmm ... ' and shook his head. He kept the fish in his beak and when another fish came along, he grabbed that one, too. And he'd grab four or five fish in his mouth and the other fella up there, he's skinny, he's starving and he's looking. `How ya going? Any fish down there?' `Grmmrrmm ...', he kept swallowing these fish.

This happened four or five days in a row and then, after a while, old pelican started looking fat and his beak started to get big. And the other fella, old bulland, he`s still skinny, up the other end. The other one is still getting little fish here and little fish there and then next thing you know, there was this this wild dog came barking and chasing something. As the dog came closer, well the pelican, he couldn't fly off as fast as the crane.


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click to play sound Bulland

The old crane, he took off flat out `cause he was pretty fit, but the pelican, he realized that he was getting fat. The dog was getting closer and closer to him, and as he tried to fly off, this dog jumped towards him and landed on his back.

Then the crane came back and pecked at the dog, so now, when you look at the pelican when he takes off, you can see where the claw marks are and the feathers are jagged. That's how the pelican got fat and realised that you have to be very careful in the future. But the crane stays still very quick and the pelican is very slow to take off.1


1. Collard, L., S. Harben & R. van den Berg. Nidja Beeliar Boodjar Noonokurt Nyininy: a Nyungar interpretive history of the use of Boodjar (country) in the vicinity of Murdoch University, Perth Western Australia. Murdoch University. 2004. Accessed November 2, 2012. http://wwwmcc.murdoch.edu.au/multimedia/nyungar/