First Platypus Story, from the top Darling River region, of Northern New South Wales, retold with permission, by June Barker. Born of a mother duck and a father water rat, the platypus is rejected from his birth and considered different. His mother travels east with him, until they find a place of safety and acceptance, in the Blue Mountain ranges.

BACK IN THE DREAMING, the Narran Lake was such a lovely place to live. It was always full of lovely, clear water and all our water birds lived there, as they still do, today.

There were beautiful Black Swans, Pelicans, Cranes, little Water Hens (with their red feet) and the Ducks. They all lived happily together, on the beautiful lake.

Now, the family of Ducks had a beautiful daughter, whose name was Gaygar. Every day, Gaygar would swim with her friends. She was so happy to float and splash around and feel the warmth of the sun on her face, as she floated on the lovely, cool, clear water.

Every day, the old Grandmothers and Mothers would warn the ducklings, “Don’t you girls go swimming too far away. The Waaway might get you. And them old fellas are watching you girls, all the time. They might coax you away.”

Gaygar and her friends would always swim a little way up the Narran River and float back downstream into the lake.

One day, as they were floating and swimming back to the lake, Gaygar saw some nice green shoots of grass, on the river bank. She got out of the water to gather some shoots to eat, while her friends were laughing and splashing around in the water.

As she was eating the lovely green shoots, something suddenly grabbed her and dragged her away. Gaygar thought the Waaway had her, but, when she looked up, she saw Bigoon, the big, old, ugly Water Rat.

Poor little Gaygar! She tried to scream, “Please let me go!”

But, Bigoon had his hand over her mouth and began to tie her up with vines.

“Please let me go!” she cried again.

Bigoon said, “No. I have been watching you girls swim everyday. I’ve fallen in love with you. I want you for my wife.”

To see how this story ends, click here to buy Gadi Mirrabooka – Australian Aboriginal stories from the Dreaming – Contains illustrations including colour plates