Tiddalik

Early in the dreamtime there lived a frog. He was called Tiddalik, and he was the largest frog anyone had ever seen.

One morning in the middle of hot summer he woke with an unquenchable thirst.

He drank the water in all the little puddles. Still he was thirsty. He hoped on his long strong legs everywhere and drank the water in each lake and every river, until he had drunk every drop of fresh water in the land. Then at last he felt satisfied, and settled down in the shade of a big tree to rest his giant body.

He was happy. With all that water stored inside, how could he ever be thirsty again?

But the other creatures that lived in this land were not happy at tall. Tiddalik had left no water for the rest of them. Each day they became thirstier. Even the leaves on the bushes and trees began to shrivel with drought.
Desperate, the creatures came to Tiddalik who was sitting contentedly in the shade, bulging with water. “Please,” they begged him “let a little water spill out for us.”

Tiddalik stared at them for a while with his big eyes. Then he yawned and said “No!”

What could they do? Finally a wise old wombat thought of an idea. “If he would only laugh, some of the water would have to come flooding out.” The animals agreed and began trying to find ways to make the giant frog laugh.

First all of the animals, big and small, began to play leapfrog over each other. This was great fun, and it made everyone laugh except the Tiddalik.

The emus tried a ballet dance.

The Dingoes marched two by two while an old kangaroo slapped out the rhythm with his tail. A frill-necked lizard began to polka on his hind legs, and then on his front ones.

The kookaburra told funny stories. They were so funny that the kookaburra himself laughed until he nearly choked. But Tiddalik did not even smile.

The wallabies waltzed and the wombats waddled. The giant frog ignored every one of them. They could not think of anything else to try.

Then a very small eel called Namubun slithered up to them. The water in his favourite creek had been swallowed up. He had nowhere to live and he was angry!

He placed himself right in front of the giant frog and began to tell him off in eel language. If you speak eel you will know that it includes twisting the body around according to what is being said. As the eel became more and more eloquent in his anger he twisted his body into more and more strange shapes. At one point he actually tied himself in a knot.

And mean, sulky, bulgy Tiddalik suddenly began to laugh. He had never laughed before, and he did not really know how to start. At first it was a snort, and then a chuckle, and then a loud, long ‘Ha ha h oho ho!’ burst from the great cavern of his mouth.

Then, as the others watched in delight, a trickle of water emerged from the corner of lips. As the laughter took over his whole body the trickle became a stream and then a river. It flooded out and across the whole land, until the lakes and waterways were all filled to overflowing.

Everyone was happy, drinking and bathing and watching the plants become moist again; and Namubun slipped back to his creek.

When he stopped laughing Tiddalik felt better than he ever had before; relaxed from laughing and more comfortable for being less tight and bulgy. He decided never to do such a selfish thing again.

And we must all hope he doesn’t!