Whirlpool Dreamtime Story – ABC Education

Watch Whirlpool, the animated Dreamtime Story. 

This media resource contains content that may be considered inappropriate for younger children.

There is a sacred part of the river where the freshwater people never make a sound.

Whirlpool is the legend that tells us why. It starts when one day, long ago, the saltwater people pursued the freshwater people in canoes. Whirlpool is a Yirritja story that is told in Marra language.

This is a cautionary tale that is passed on from generation to generation. The salt-water people from the Gulf of Carpenteria fought often with the fresh-water people of Roper River which leads inland (and includes the people of Beswick). The Roper River was the means by which the local people travelled. Dug out canoes were the means of transport. Salt-water and fresh-water peoples often fought along the Roper River. A lot of fighting was over women who had been stolen from their respective clans.

This legend warns the fresh-water people to take care of themselves when they are in close quarters with neighbouring clans.

Things to think about

  1. Can you find the Limmen Bight River and Roper River on a map of Arnhem Land? Where do you think the freshwater and saltwater people might be from?
  2. What is your interpretation of the story told in the animation? What do you think is the message of the story?
  3. The narrator at the end of the clip says it’s important to be quiet to avoid danger. Why do you think it’s important to the traditional owners that this message is passed down through generations?
  4. What significance does water play in this story?

There are additional suggested classroom activities, worksheets and resources here

Years 5-6

Teachers Click Here

Many of these resources and activities have been developed in consultation with NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to ensure that the program meets NSW curriculum outcomes for Stages 3, 4 & 5.