Stories from the Billabong

Written by James Vance Marshall
Review by Elizabeth Jane

Stories from the Billabong is a collection of aboriginal myths and legends inspired by the dreaming of the Yorta Yorta people whose traditional lands occupy the north-eastern part of the present day Australian state of Victoria. The tales range in topic from The Rainbow Serpent and the Story of Creation, to The Lizard-Man and the Creation of Uluru, and The Butterflies and the Mystery of Death. Others tales simply explain various natural phenomena, such as: Why Brolga’s Dance and How the Kangaroo got her Pouch. Each tale is beautifully illustrated with traditional symbols woven throughout each page. There are also explanation sections, in which the various animals, moths, rocks and flowers are set in their contemporary context. The story comes with a glossary and a chart of aboriginal symbols. Although this is not an extended narrative, it is a must have for any library collection of folk tales ― a book that will be enjoyed for its educational value and for the delightful re-telling of its age-old tales.