Kurrea

The Kurrea is an enormous reptilian creature from the Boobera Lagoon, the Barwon River, and the Narran River in New South Wales, Australia. It may be considered the local variant of the rainbow serpent, although the lumping of such entities may be overzealous. The term kurrea, a Euahlayi word, has also been translated as “crocodile” in the one Narran River account, but a “serpent” interpretation is probably more correct. A 39-foot carving of the kurrea is clearly snake-shaped.

The deepest part of the Boobera Lagoon is bottomless and that is where the kurrea lives. An enormous serpentine creature, it is incapable of moving on dry land. When a kurrea wants to travel, it tears up the ground on the banks of the lagoon, excavating channels along which it can swim. The many shallow channels around the lagoon are evidence of the kurrea’s movements.

Anyone who dared fish, swim, or paddle in the Boobera Lagoon would immediately be attacked and devoured by the kurrea. This hostile behavior could cause serious shortages, as the lagoon had large flocks of waterfowl and schools of fish.

Once a man called Toolalla, of the Barwon River, decided to rid his people of the kurrea. He was a skilled hunter and, armed with his sharpest and strongest weapons, he stood on the bank of the lagoon. Before long the kurrea had noticed him and swam towards him. But despite all his preparations, Toolalla discovered that even his best weapons could not even injure the kurrea.

Toolalla made the wise decision to flee for his life. The kurrea followed him, gouging out a channel at high speed and rapidly gaining on his prey. Toolalla managed to climb up a tall bumble tree where the snake could not reach him. The bumble tree is also the kurrea’s mother-in-law, and the only thing it fears. Eventually, frustrated and disappointed, the kurrea returned to the Boobera Lagoon, where it continued to be a threat to all who trespassed on its domain.

Today the kurrea is harder to see. Its descendants are the gowarke, the giant, black-feathered, red-legged emus of the Baiame swamps.

References

Buchler, I. R. and Maddock, K. (eds.) (1978) The Rainbow Serpent: A Chromatic Piece. Mouton Publishers, The Hague.

Mathews, R. H. (1907) Notes on the Aborigines of New South Wales. William Appleworth Gullick, Sydney.

Reed, A. W. (1982) Aboriginal Myths, Legends, and Fables. Reed, Wellington.

14 Comments

  1. I looked up this creature too for a class project at Emily Carr. The first time I head about this thing was from Karl Shuckers blog on oceanic dragons. On his blog he also described it a serpent but one with a crocodile-like head, a frill around its neck, webbed paws, a prehensile tail, and colored either green or orange, even providing an illustrated example. I sent him an email asking him some questions because I also read R.H. Mathews description and it contradicted Shuckers, much like yours. He told me the illustration came from a long out-of-print book from the 1960s on world myths and legends and that it doesn’t explain where the description comes from. I’m wondering if maybe you found this description too? I’m asking because I want to start an ongoing illustration project where I try to depict what the world would look like if all world myths and folklore were real and continued to exist into the modern day and I want to be as accurate to the cultural source as possible. Also I have a personal folder where I save any new myths I learn about and I want to be sure if my account on the Kurrea needs an update. Sorry if this is all too much of a message.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Giant snake from Australia. Afraid of mother-in-laws. Got it. (I’d legitimately love to see an evolutionary tree where a bumble tree is this snake’s mother-in-law and its descendants are emus. The genetics must be just … mindblowing.)

    Liked by 2 people

      • Indeed. I do love the use of “fully”, implying this idea that something can partially adhere to two different rulesets. We’re very used to quantifying reality as a discrete value. Something is or it isn’t. But I’ve always found fascinating this idea of ontological overlapping. The parallel co-existence of a gene-based and a concept-based evolution that can even converge. Another interesting element being that whereas we consider the laws of physics to be universal, the laws of human conception are very much based on belief and on culture: the procreation of a bull and a human may birth an entirely different entity based on the culture in which it took place due to people’s different conceptions of the symbolism of such an act. If you mixed a potion using the same ingredients in a different country would it achieve the same result? What an incredible world it must be …

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s