Three Lizards (Aboriginal myth)

Once upon a time there were three great lizards. They looked the same; they were the same size; they talked the same and they called themselves ‘men’. They were called Prenti Goanna, Black Goanna, and Goanna.

One day they were talking about painting, and about painting themselves. Prenti Goanna said: ‘We must paint ourselves properly with paint.’

‘Oh yes,’ Goanna said.
That’s right,’ Prenti Goanna said, ‘and first, you two must paint me!’

With this they all made ready to paint Prenti Goanna. First they got charcoal, then white ochre and red ochre. Then they set to work and painted Prenti Goanna.

Now, they painted that Prenti Goanna very carefully, so that he looked very good. However, Prenti Goanna didn’t like the way they had painted him. ‘No! This is no good. You two have been fooling with me. I’m not at all happy with this. Look! I’m black all over! I look terrible,’ he sulked.

So then they decided to paint Black Goanna. They collected charcoal, some prickles and just a little white ochre. Then they painted Black Goanna’s nose; they painted it black. After that, they painted him black all over. Then they put prickles on him and rolled him over and over in the prickles and in the charcoal. Soon they had made him into a big mess with prickles and charcoal all over. He has been like that ever since.

Prenti Goanna, still angry at the way he had been painted, said ‘You’ll be a small black lizard for ever, Black Goanna – not like me!’ Then using his magic, Prenti made Black Goanna into a small, black lizard.

Last of all they made ready to paint Goanna. They collected sand, some red ochre and some white ochre. They didn’t get any charcoal. First they put paint on Goanna, all over him. Then they rolled Goanna in the sand so that he had sand all over him. He looked like a big, sandy mess!

Having finished their painting, and having put away all the paint, Prenti said to Black Goanna (now, Black Lizard): ‘You’re too small! You go away and live beside the creeks in hollow trees. That’s your place now!’

Then, to Goanna, he said: ‘You’ve been painted like sand, you’ll have to go away too! You go and make your place in the sand (hills). I’m making you small from now on also. You’re not like me anymore; go away you sand goanna!’

So Prenti Goanna, Black Lizard and Sand Goanna weren’t friends anymore (and didn’t call themselves men), and only Prenti Goanna wandered everywhere.