Song – Kookaburra


Warami N’Allowah Mittigar

(Dharug: Hello, come in, sit down friend)

We are nearly at the end of Winter, it’s just three weeks until Spring!

Have you heard the kookaburras lately?

A pair of kookaburras are setting up camp in a gum tree across the road from my place. Every morning they can be seen sitting on the electric wires, laughing their heads off as I bundle the kids into the car and set off for school and work.

Traditional verse:
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh kookaburra laugh
Kookaburra gay your life must be
Modern verse:
Kookaburra sits on the electric wire
Jumping up and down with his pants on fire
Ouch kookaburra ouch
Kookaburra hot your tail must be

The Dharug word for kookaburra is ‘guganagina’. Everything I’ve read seems to point to ‘kookaburra’ being an Anglicised version of the Wiradjuri word ‘guuguubarra’.

The kookaburra song is sung all over the world. I have a friend who grew up in Malaysia and she said that they sung it at school. At Circle Time in playgroup we would sing the song and everyone would have a go at laughing like a kookaburra.

I couldn’t find any local Indigenous (Dharug, Dharawal, Gundungurra) myths about the kookaburra. But I did find the Wiradjuri words for the traditional verse of the song…

Gugubarra wibiyanha madhandha
Girra girra balgar balgar birramalgu gwiiny
Gindhanha guguburra gindhanha guguburra
Girra girra murun balanhu


Until next time…

Yanu (Dharug: bye, I go)








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