Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Man of Stone – Erich

The Golem of Prague was a man made of clay. Superman is the Man of Steel. But do you know of the Man of Stone? Or perhaps more precisely, the Man Half of Stone?

He was the Nargun, a mythical half-man, half-stone creature in the stories of the Gunaikurnai Aboriginal people of Australia. According to the legends, the Nargun is made of stone except not all of him. But most of him. And if you attack him with a boomerang or a spear, it will just bounce back at the attacker. (The aboriginal Australians didn't have guns or even metal weapons, so there is no mention of what would happen if a sword or bullet hit him. Unlike with Superman where we know what would result.)

The Den of Nargun is a real place located in what is today Mitchell River National Park in Victoria, Australia. We visited the park today and walked to the Den of Nargun.

On the way we saw and heard kookaburras. Though never at the same time. I mean, we saw kookaburras, but they weren't making their laughter-like call. And other times we could hear the “I'm so amused” call of those birds, but we couldn't see who was making it. (This reminds me of a new proposal. I suggest we stop calling bird calls calls and instead call them their ringtones. Good idea?)
Rapids on the Mitchell River
We also got to see the Mitchell River and the canyon it has formed. We saw scarlet parrots. And we saw this guy.
What is it wearing? Is that a shell? A leaf? A tortilla?
I don't know what he is. Like a cross between an insect and a hermit crab?
We climbed down into the canyon and then we climbed up out of it
The area is filled with lovely waterfalls, tall canyons, steep paths, and the unusual flora of a temperate rain-forest, close to the furthest south that any such temperate rain-forest exists.
This is part of the going back up
We did then proceed to the Den of Nargun. Among the Gunaikernai people, stories were told of how the Nargun would grab and eat children who were found at the pool outside his den. This both convinced children not to wander off, but also to stay away from the den.
The Nargun lives in there
However, the Gunaikernai people did use the cave as a location for learning and initiation rituals for women. It is a place that the Gunaikernai men did not and still do not go. Visitors are asked not to cross the pool and enter the cave, out of respect for the Gunaikernai traditions. We only gazed at it from across the pool at its mouth. We certainly would never want to disrespect the traditions of those who lived in this land for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

I mean, who would do that? You'd have to have a heart of stone. Or perhaps more precisely, half of stone.

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