First Waratah love story from the Illawarra Region, of the South Coast of New South Wales, is retold, with permission, by Pauline McLeod
The Waratah is also known as the native rose and there are many different versions of this story.
WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG, in a valley among the mountains, there lived a beautiful young maiden, called Krubi. Daily, she wrapped a bright red kangaroo cloak around herself and left the village for a place in the mountains. There, she would watch for the return of the hunting party and Bahmai, her betrothed.
Bahmai, was a very handsome young warrior, to whom she had been betrothed since birth. Whenever he left the camp to go hunting with the other men, she would take her red cloak and go up to her favorite place, high up in the mountains, which overlooked the entrance to her people’s camp. There, she would sit for hours, until they returned.
When Bahmai was taken away by the older men, to go through his initiation — the time when a boy became a man — Krubi again waited for him, in her favorite spot on the mountain. Anyone entering the valley could see her bright red cloak, high up on the mountainside. Bahmai could see her, waiting for him, from a great distance away.
One day, a dispute occurred with a neighboring tribe. They had broken the protocol, by hunting, without permission, in her people’s territory. Angered by this deliberate invasion of their lands, a party of warriors went out to repel the raiders.
Before Bahmai went to join the other men, he came to Krubi and gave her one of his spears to look after, promising that upon his return, they would marry.
With her red cloak wrapped warmly around her and, holding Bahmai’s spear close to her body, Krubi set off for her favorite place…