K. Langloh Parker - Australian Legendary Tales: Goonur, The Woman-Doctor

K. Langloh Parker – Australian Legendary Tales: Goonur, The Woman-Doctor

Catherine Eliza Somerville Stow (May 1, 1856 – March 27, 1940), who wrote as K. Langloh Parker, was a South Australian born writer who lived in northern New South Wales in the late nineteenth century.

She is best known for recording the stories of the Ualarai around her. Her testimony is one of the best accounts of the beliefs and stories of an Aboriginal people in north-west New South Wales at that time. However, her accounts reflect European attitudes of the time.

Parker was born Catherine Eliza Somerville Field at Encounter Bay, in South Australia, daughter of Henry Field, pastoralist, and his wife Sophia, daughter of Rev. Ridgway Newland.Henry Field established Marra station near Wilcannia on the Darling River in New South Wales, and ‘Katie’ was raised there. The relocation brought the family both prosperity and sorrows. In an incident that took place in January 1862, her sisters Jane and Henrietta drowned while Katie was rescued by her Ualarai nurse, Miola. In recognition, Miola was taken in to be schooled together with the Field’s other children. The family moved back to Adelaide in 1872.

In 1875, on reaching her maturity at 18, she married her first husband, Langloh Parker, 16 years her senior. In 1879 they and moved to his property, Bangate Station, near Angledool, on Ualarai lands by the Narran River. Langloh Parker’s holdings consisted of 215,000 acres running some 100,000 sheep and cattle. He found time also to work as magistrate at Walgett. Over the following two decades she collected many of the Ualarai stories and legends which were to fill her books and make her famous. After drought struck the region, the station eventually failed and the Parkers moved to Sydney in 1901, where Langloh was diagnosed with cancer, dying two years later. Katie travelled to England and married a lawyer, Percival Randolph Stow (son of Randolph Isham Stow), in 1905. The couple eventually returned to Australia, taking up residence in the suburb of Glenelg in Adelaide until her death in 1940.


chapter twenty-two of Australian legendary tales folklore this is a LibriVox recording LibriVox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org australian legendary tales folklore by mrs. K Laing lo parker chapter twenty-two renewed the woman doctor canoe was a clever old woman doctor who lived with her son Renu and his two wives the wives were good either red lizard and Berean the small prickly Izzard one day the two wives had done something to anger renewed their husband and he gave them both a great beating after their beating they went away by themselves they said to each other that they could stand their present life no longer and yet there was no escape unless they killed their husband they decided they would do that but how that was the question it must be cunning at last they decided on a plan they dug a big hole in the sand near the creek filled it with water and covered the whole over with boughs leaves and grass now we will go they said and tell her husband that we found a big bandicoot's nest back they went to the camp and told Grenier that they had seen a big nest of bandicoot's near the creek that if he sneaked up he would be able to surprise him and get the lot off went gunner in great haste he sneaked up to within a couple of feet of the nest then gave a spring onto the top of it and only when he felt the bow top giving with him and he sank down into the water did he realize that he had been tricked too late then to save himself where he was drowning and could not escape his wife's had watched the success of their stratagem from a distance when they were certain that they had effectually disposed of their hated husband they went back to the camp canoe the mother soon missed her son made inquiries of his wives but gained no information from them two or three days passed and yet canoe the son returned not seriously alarmed at his long absence without having giving her notice of his intention the mother determined to follow his tracks she took up his trail where she had last seen him leave the camp this she followed until she reached the so called bandicoot's nest here his tracks disappeared and nowhere could she find a sign of having returned from this place she felt in the hole with her yarn stick and soon felt that there was something lodged there in the water she cut a fork stick and tried to raise the body and get it out for she felt sure it must be her son but she could not raise it dick after stick broke in the effort at last she cut a mystic and tried with that and then she was successful when she brought out the body she found it was indeed her son she dragged the body to an ant bed and watched intently to see if the stinks of the ants brought any sign of returning life soon her hope was realized and after a violent twitching of the muscles her son regained consciousness as soon as he was able to do so he told her of the trick his wife's had played on him you know the mother was furious no more shall they have you as husband you shall live hidden in my daughter when we get near the camp you can get into this long big combi and I will take you in when you want to go hunting I will take you from the camp in this combi and when we are out of sight you can get out and hunt as evolved and thus they managed for some time to keep his return a secret and little the wife's knew that their husband was alive and in his mother's camp but as day after day canoe the mother returned from hunting loaded with spoils they began to think she must have help from someone for surely they said no old woman could be so successful in hunting there was a mystery they were sure and they were determined to find it out see they said she goes out alone she's old and yet she brings home more than we two do together and we are young today she brought opossums piggy Bella's honey yams quater and many things we got little yet we went far we will watch her the next time organa went out carrying her big combi the wife's watched her look they said how slowly she goes she could not climb trees for opossums she's too old and weak look how she staggers they went cautiously after her and saw when she was some distance from the camp that she put down her combi and out of it to their amazement stepka knew their husband oh they said this is her secret she must have found him and as she is a great doctor she was able to bring him to life again we must wait until she leaves him and then go to him and beg to know where he has been and pretend joy that he is back or else surely now he is alive again he will sometime kill us accordingly when guna was alone the two wives ran to him and said why good new our husband did you leave us where have you been all the time that we our wives have mourned for you long has the time been without you and where your wives have been sad that you came no more to add I do renew the husband affected to believe their sorrow was genuine and that they did not know when they directed him into the bandicoot's nests that it was a trap which trap but for his mother might have been his grave they all went hunting together and when they had killed enough for food they returned to the camp as they came near to the camp you know the mothers saw them coming and cried out would you again be tricked by your wives did I save you from death only that you might again be killed I spared them but I would have slain them if again they are to have a chance of killing you my son many are the walls of women and another time I might not be able to save you let them live if you will it so my son but not with you they tried to lure you to death you are no longer theirs mine only now for did I not bring you back from the dead but cano the husband said in truth did you save me my mother and these my wife's rejoice that you did they – as I was were deceived by the bandicoot's nest the work of an enemy yet to be found see my mother do not the looks of love in their eyes and the words of love on my lips vouch for their truth we will be as we have been my mother and live again in peace and thus craftily did go no the husband deceive his wives and make them believe he trusted them wholly while in reality his mind was even then plotting vengeance in a few days he had his plans ready having cut and pointed sharply to stakes he stuck them firmly in the creek then he placed two logs on the bank in front of the sticks which were underneath the water and invisible having made his preparations he invited his wife's to come for a bathe he said when they reached the creek see those two logs on the bank you jump in each from one and see which can dive the furthest I will go first to see you as you come up and in he jumped carefully avoiding the pointed steaks right he called all is clear here jump in then the two wives ran down the bank each to a log and jump from it well had canoe calculated the distance for both jumped right onto the stakes placed in the water to catch them and which stuck firmly into them holding them under the water well I am avenged said go no no more will my wives lay traps to catch me and he walked off to the camp his mother asked him where his wife's were they left me he said to get beasts nests but as day by day passed and the wives returned not the old woman began to suspect that her son knew more than he said she asked him no more but quietly watched her opportunity when her son was away hunting and then followed the tracks of the wives she tracked them to the creek and as she saw no tracks of their return she went into the creek felt about and there found the two bodies fast on the stakes she managed to get them off and out of the creek then she determined to try and restore them to life for she was angry that her son had not told her what he had done but had deceived her as well as his wives she rubbed the women with some of her medicines dressed the wounds made by the steaks and then dragged them both on to the ants nest and watched their bodies as the ants crawled over them biting them she had not long to wait soon they began to move and come to life again as soon as they were restored renew took them back to the camp and said to renew her son now once did I use my knowledge to restore life to you and again have I used it to restore life to your wife's you're all mine now and I decide that you live in peace and never more it deceive me or never again shall I use my skill for you and they live for a long while together and when the mother doctor died there was a beautiful desolately bright falling star followed by a sound as a sharp clap of thunder and all the tribes around when they saw and heard this said a great doctor must have died for that is the sign and when the wives died they were taken up to the sky where they are now known as grey below the red star so called from it's bright red color owing the legend says to the red marks left by the stakes on the bodies of the two women in which nothing could have faced end of chapter 22


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