Mulka's Cave, Western Australia - field trip

For countless millennia, Aboriginal culture has been guided by complex laws and customs that have been passed down through the generations, which are passed on via “oral tradition”. This means that Aboriginals have a highly developed pattern of story-telling and verbal transmission of accumulated wisdom. The legend of Mulka of the Noongar culture forms part of this process of sharing and maintaining the laws that guide the culture.


One of the interpretations of the legend is that it tells a story about the dangers of “wrong way marriage”, which was frowned upon within traditional Aboriginal society for a variety of cultural and genetic reasons.


The gist of the story is that there was this Mulka fellow who was the illegitimate son of a woman who fell in love with a man to whom marriage was forbidden. As a result Mulka was born with crossed eyes. Even though he grew up to be an outstandingly strong man of colossal height, his crossed eyes prevented him from aiming a spear accurately and becoming a successful hunter. Out of frustration, Mulka turned to catching and eating human children and have become the terror of the district. He lived in Mulka’s Cave where the impressions of his hands can still be seen much higher than those of an ordinary man. His mother become increasingly concerned with Mulka, and when she scolded him for his anti-social behavior, he turned on his own mother and killed her. This disgraced him even more so he had to fled the cave, heading south. However the Aboriginal people were outraged by Mulka’s behavior and decided to track him down, which they finally managed, near Dumbleyung, 156 km south west of Hyden, WA. Because he did not deserve a proper ritual burial, they left his body for the ants – a grim warning to those who break the law.


Date: March 2014

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