Dreamtime Story of the Black Bream and the Shield
Mankala and the Kunparra
This story is called "Mankala and the Kunparra" which means in the Kalkadoon language "Black Bream and the Shield".
Long, long ago the tortoise was a fish with fins and gills and he swam in the rivers and waterholes in kalkadoon country. He was a very slow swimming fish and he was an easy target for the Kalkadoon hunters who would spear him. One day while swimming in a waterhole he came across a Kalkadoon fish trap that had a large beautiful black bream trapped inside and he knew that the black bream would soon be eaten for dinner by the Kalkadoon hunters.
Mankala the black bream saw the tortoise and said "I am the last of my kind and I must give birth to my young so my kind will survive can you help me escape this fish trap". Tortoise replied if I try to help you then I too may be caught in this trap and eaten, I am a very slow swimmer and am not strong enough to break the trap. Mankala said to the tortoise if you promise to help me I will tell you how to trick the hunters and then you can help me. Mankala told tortoise to swim near the waters edge so the hunters could see him and then as fast as he could to swim back to the bottom of the waterhole. Tortoise swam to the edge of the waterhole and when the Kalkadoon hunters saw him they quickly grabbed their spears and were about to throw them when they both began to argue over who saw tortoise first and who should have him for dinner. The hunters kept arguing and started to fight and then one of the hunters grabbed the others shield and threw it into the waterhole where it sank to the bottom. Mankala told tortoise to quickly swim into the shield and tie it onto his back using the reeds from the waterhole and then to use the side of the shield to cut through the fish trap so she could escape.
Tortoise tied on the shield and then cut through the fish trap setting Mankala free and when the hunters saw what tortoise was doing they stopped arguing and threw their spears at tortoise but the spears just bounced off tortoises new shield. One of the hunters then jumped into the waterhole and started to pull on tortoises head to try and get him out of the shield but using all of his strength the hunter could not budge tortoise and tortoise swam as fast as he could to the bottom of the waterhole. Mankala said to tortoise because you so selflessly helped to save me you now have protection from the Kalkadoon hunters spears and because now your neck has been stretched by the hunter you can now just peek above the water instead of showing your whole body.
Tortoise now swims happily in his waterhole with his new shield for protection and always sticks his head above the water first to see if any hunters are around.