Mungo’s Magic Songs : Poems inspired by Ancient Culture and Nature

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Mungo Outback Journey

Discover the Magic of Mungo’s Songs: Creator spirits, Bunjil & the Rainbow Serpent (Wedge-tailed eagle over Brown Snake)

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Mungo sings its own magical songs. First you see this ancient landscape, then you feel it in your soul. But then the wind moves and you hear it singing in the pines, whispering through the saltbush, bending the spear-grass, drifting with the sand…..

Conservation : poems in search of Mungo’s magic songs.

Barry Wenke’s poems express his thoughts and his motivation for travel. They are positive, refreshing, compact, succinct…..and easily understood.

Most importantly, they contain a strong conservation message.

Barry was a guest on a Mungo Outback & Conservation Journey I was guiding for Australian Geographic Travel and was so impressed by Mungo he penned the deeply moving poems you’ll read in this story.

He reinforced my belief that conservation — and awareness of our impact on the environment — is important to travellers. (Read more about Barry poems)

Mungo’s songs : message sticks from the past

Aboriginal People used inscribed wooden sticks — message sticks — to communicate with other people. They were carried across the land by “messengers” to distant groups.

On still clear nights you may still hear the Messengers singing songs in the dunes.

So often we miss what is right before us but if we learn to listen we may “hear” the songs of the past.

This is the magic power of Mungo.

Read Barry’s “Mungo Messages” where he first hears the song:

MUNGO MESSAGES – read the poem

Mungo’s vast dry lakebed clothed in morning mist. Echidna Walkabout

Mungo is famous for its burials — the oldest ceremonial resting places of humans on earth — dating back a staggering 65,000 years. These burials display indisputable evidence of a loving, caring society that mourned the passing of its relatives and friends.

Since then over 2000 generations of humans have embedded their songs in Mungo’s sand.

Mungo is also the resting place for the ancestors of many of Australia’s current suite of wildlife, including megafauna, that lived concurrently with Aboriginal People.

Giant kangaroos, wombats, snakes and emus roamed the lakes and forests surrounding them. Their bones are scattered throughout Mungo’s dunes and are exposed daily by the wind….sometimes alongside human burials.

The link between people and wildlife is palpable and was the reason the huge 240,000 hectare region — which includes Mungo National Park — was proclaimed the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area in 1981.


Ancestors crafted Mungo’s magic songs

Two major ancestral beings made the stories and songs of Aboriginal People. In southern Australia the great creator spirit is Bunjil, the Wedge-tailed Eagle. In the north and west the creator is the Rainbow Serpent.

Magically both these entities merged while we were at a remote and spectacularly beautiful place called Vigars Well in Mungo. At the time I don’t think any of us realised what an incredibly poignant moment we had witnessed.

In fact, without Barry’s poem, I may not have given the incident another thought:

DUNE – read the poem

Mungo sand dunes walk
Enjoy the late evening light on Lake Mungo’s remote sand dunes Roger Smith

Behind the tiny sandprints at Hattah-Kulkyne

Before travelling to Mungo our 6 day tour spends a day at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park as a prelude to the outback. This park covers 48,000 hectares of beautiful semi desert country filled with sand dunes and ephemeral lakes and bounded by the Murray River.

After 3 wet years many of the lakes were full and wildlife was abundant which led to this short poem:

SANDPRINTS – read the poem

mungo's magic songs sandprints
Tiny sandprints on our fragile land

About the poet – Barry Wenke

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Echidna Walkabout designed and operates Australian Geographic Travel’s 6 day “Mungo Outback & Conservation Journey.”

Echidna Walkabout is a Founding Member of Australian Wildlife Journeys.
We also create, guide and operate tours for Australian Geographic Travel

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See similar posts: Lake Mungo | Mungo | mungo history | Mungo wildlife