Sunday, 20 April 2008
Legend of Devil's Pool
Nestled in the rainforest near Babinda, a town half an hour drive from where I live is a swimming hole known as Devil's Pool but locals know it as The Boulders. The waters are crystal clear, at times they are freezing cold but in summer are a welcome relief from the heat and humidity. This is where I received my first case of severe Queensland sunburn, spending all day in the swimming hole and driving around in a topless jeep. It is also a popular tourist venue. Queensland's two highest mountains; Mt Bartle Frere and Mt Bellenden Ker are both visible from this swimming hole. There is a Legend that surrounds The Boulders and there has been 16 deaths since 1959 of young males in accordance with that legend.
The legend arises from the story of a woman who married a respected tribal elder but ran away with a beautiful young man visiting for the event. When they were captured she threw herself into the waters to escape, calling for her lover to follow her. The legend goes that her spirit guards the boulders and that her calls for her lover can still be heard.
One local, Annie Wonga, gave this account:
There was a tribe that lived here. In this tribe was an elder, and his name was called Waroonoo and Waroonoo was promised to a girl called Oolana. When they got married, they had a big dance. As they went dancing a wandering tribe passed through and they welcomed them. In this tribe was a handsome young warrior and his name was Dyga. Oolana fell in love with him, and he fell in love with Oolana. While they were dancing, they decided to run further up the creek and camp there overnight. And at the morning, the wandering tribe and our tribe saw that they were missing. So they went in search of them and they said to Oolana, "You've got to come with us." And his tribe took him away. And when she saw that, she just came and she threw herself into the creek. She loved him that much. And there was a mighty upheaval, and rocks were strewn everywhere and where she lay is now called the Devil's Pool. And every now and again she might call a wandering man to her, thinking that it's Dyga.
There are warning signs posted by local authorities about the dangers faced, further down from the main swimming hole, where the rapids are. The area immediately above where the rapids are and where it narrows through the rocks is fenced off but still deaths from drowning occur.
A sign warns of the dangers of swimming there because the water is deep and fast flowing through channels and over underwater rocks but deaths still occur – some by swimming, others by falling in unexpectedly, many being wedged in a rock "chute".
Local Aboriginal people believe that when people disrespect the site, the site "disrespects" them in return. One account given was a man who was warned, but kicked the plaque, slipped into the hole and drowned where a body had just been recovered. Another tells of a drowned man whose father photographed the site in memoriam. When the photograph was developed the son's face appeared on the rocks:
When the father come down, the police took him out and showed him where he went down in the chute. And he took the photo of that, thinking it's just a chute. And he come back and they showed him where they had him tied up there. And when he went over to Innisfail the next morning to get them developed that's what they found. That photo, he's even got the cigarette in his mouth.
The Aboriginal people, among them Rainforest people, feel they are protected and anyone who goes there with them as friends are also protected.