Why The Emu Flies

You follow the main path to the end and turn down the small path that takes you through the bush to Lyttleton Street with Fletcher Street on your right. As you follow the path, a voice whispers from the land.

“Terrific choice! The sky story is a story about the changing of the season and how to see the flying emu!”

That was Harley, you recognise his voice. Maybe your memory is coming back. But as you go to tell him this, a soothing voice hums from the sky.

“At the beginning of the year when the land is hot and dry, we call that Barramul season, which coincides with Milakuk – Lightning time. Barramul is a teaching about being cautious with fire because it’s when the land is fire-prone.

At this time Barramul in the sky will look like it has no legs. But by Autumn Barramul will tell us it is time to go hunting. Barramul grows legs as a sign to hunt for food and dark clouds will form around the Milky Way to show the flying Barramul.

By Winter, Barramul stops running, its legs disappear because it’s time to care for the eggs. This is when you will find Barramul getting comfortable, warming the eggs in the nest because it is the coldest season.

If you look at Mt Franklin, Liarni Barramul, from high in the sky, it appears as a huge Barramul nest. This is why we call this area home of the emu. By Spring, it is harder to see Barramul who has turned into the shape of an egg, meaning it is hatching season.

Just before Summer, Barramul’s head and neck are hard to find. That is because Barrmamul is now sitting in a waterhole but when the hot season is upon us the country is dry again and Barramul disappears. Its head will appear again in February, followed by the body in March.

What can you see in the night sky? Look out for the flying Barramul.


“The dark emu flies to teach us the Laws of the land, water, and sky. To see the flying emu look closely at the Southern Cross, the head appears as a dark cloud at the bottom left hand corner of the constellation. The flying emu reminds us how to keep time with the land, to know how to read it, how to care for the land with wisdom and respect. This Knowledge grounds us.”

As you listen to the meaning of this story, you feel a sense of renewal and recognise Harley’s voice. You make a point to remember to look at the sky tonight to see if you can spot the flying emu now that you know what to look for in the sky. Strangely though, you can’t see Harley anymore but have a good sense why he’s not there. Your memory seems to have returned with such great clarity.

As you stand in this part of the land peering into the trees, feeling rather headstrong, you’re suddenly aware that you’re not alone. Someone steps out backwards from behind a tree and gives you such a fright you almost collide. Oh, it’s Harley! It looks like he has been busy clearing this part of the park of rubbish. He has a tin can in his hand, and plastic wrappers.

You search the ground for litter too, feeling an urge to help Harley keep this parkland clean. You feel you need to replace the litter with a mark in the land as this is what you sense the Country is telling you to do. You mark the ground with a triangle of fallen twigs. Something tells you not to disturb any rocks as you do this as you know there’s an endangered Pink-tailed Worm-lizard in these parklands that use small rocks as their home. How do you know this you wonder?

You feel your marker is a symbol for others, building up the remembrance of this place. The more people who add their mark, the more people who remember the stories, the more we remember and recover our true identity. It would invite other people to work out what is going on here and take an interest in the stories.

You realise you need to make the connection between the land and the stories stronger.

You’re beginning to understand there’s more to the land than you think. You had forgotten who you were, and these spirits have appeared to remind you of the land’s significance and your part in it. You want to tell Harley this but as you move towards him, a great gale swells through the sky and floods through the bush with such force it pushes you to the ground. By the time you look up, Harley has vanished but you hear a roar of feathers beating through the trees. You recognise Bunjil, the eagle, as giant as all the trees and wait a minute…was that Harley in its claws?

Somehow, you know they are heading to the monument, the Burke and Wills statue on Mostyn and Wills Street. You should check that Harley’s okay. You follow the thunderous noise of beating feathers to the monument, crossing the road at Lyttleton Street. You think you hear Harley screaming: Help! Help! But maybe that was Country speaking.

Go to Monument.