Kookaburras are a well-known symbol of Australia, sometimes referred to as a laughing jackass. Territorial birds, they remain in family groups until around four years of age. The offspring help with the feeding of successive generations before they start their own families. They also build their nests in not only trees, but also by digging out holes in termite mounds.
Kookaburras become quite tame in the wild, accepting food from an outstretched hand or diving in while it’s on the way to your mouth. They will even swoop down and help themselves to a cooking bar-b-que! Kookaburra is bold, fearless and able to get what he wants.
A destructive influence of Western society has been the use of pesticides, which enter Kookaburra’s system through his food. These poisons result in softer, more fragile eggshells. (These toxins also affect the breeding cycles of eagles, owls and other native birds.) The average Kookaburra nest contains two young, and as the birds do not breed until they are around four, this slowness in reproducing means they are vulnerable and, although common, could be decimated quite easily. Fragility is part of Kookaburra medicine.
The tune “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree” was the prize winner of a Girl Guide club to write a song and sell the rights as a fundraiser. These days the word “gay” in the last line is often replaced with “happy”! For a progressive society, we have become somewhat repressive and fearful in the use of certain words. Do you get hung up over using the “right” word in some way, if this song is stuck in your head?
In one Dreaming, the Great Spirit Biami created the first Kookaburra to call out when the sun rose each morning to awaken the people and day creatures. He did this with a loud, ringing laugh so the people and creatures awoke with gladness in their hearts; and so the Great Spirit Biami was happy too.
Another Dreaming states that before the world had the sun, Emu and Brush Turkey continuously fought. Brush Turkey threw Emu’s egg into the sky and it landed in one of the campfires of the star people. The resulting light was so glorious, the people begged the star people to keep it going. They needed someone to waken them each morning to start the fire of the Sun, so Kookaburra with his loud laugh got the job. He does it daily with joy.
Our jolly brother has had the job ever since. So laugh with Kookaburra, enjoy yourself, your success and the newness of each moment! It is due to Kookaburra’s ability to sing out, be loud and committed to the important job of awakening humanity that he got the job (so to speak.)
One important thing to note about Kookaburra is that he must NEVER be mocked. It is absolute Law. Although this fellow appears to be bursting with self-confidence, he is indeed a sensitive soul. Any teasing will result in hurting Kookaburra’s feelings so deeply, he won’t waken the star people. Imagine living without the sun!
On a mundane level, Kookaburra highlights work issues and family relationships. Enthusiasm, promotion, success and responsibility are all symbolised by Kookaburra. And expect to join in with the laughter, if you hear the ‘kookookakak’ of this fellah!
 Isaacs, Jennifer (ed.) “Australian Dreaming.” Also Ellis, Jean A. “This is the Dreaming.”; Reed, A.W. “Aboriginal Myths, Legends & Fables.”
 “Gadi Mirrabooka” by Helen McKay
Share this Post