Aboriginal Art Dreaming Stories - Tiddalik the Frog
Long ago in the Dreaming there was a very greedy frog called Tiddalik. One morning he woke up with such a terrible thirst that he drank up all the fresh water in the creeks, in the rivers and in the lakes. As a result, the animals and plants had no water and were in danger of dying in the heat. They begged Tiddalik to open his mouth and share some of the water he had swallowed but he selfishly refused.
All the animals were at a loss what to next, so they held a council meeting where Wise Old Owl devised a plan to trick Tiddalik into laughing, so that he would open his mouth and release all the water he had drunk.
Echidna was the first to try to make him laugh. “Hey, Tiddalik” he called as he curled up into a little ball and rolled down the hill into the dried-up creek. Tiddalik didn’t even crack a smile.
Koala went next and pulled some funny faces but Tiddalik just rolled his eyes.
Kookaburra, who was always laughing, told some funny jokes without getting a giggle or a grin.
When Wombat started doing a silly dance, Tiddalik just shook his head.
Then Nabunum the eel said, “I can dance better than that”, but as he shimmied and chasséd and slid so fast, he tied himself up in a knot that he couldn’t undo.
Tiddalik smiled at Nabunum’s antics. Then his grin grew into a giggle and finally he burst into uncontrollable laughter. The water gushed from his mouth and flooded across the land refilling the creeks, rivers and lakes. The parched land soaked up the refreshing liquid and revived the plants while the animals gulped it down until they quenched their thirst.
From that day on the balance of nature was fully restored and Tiddalik learned the lesson that selfishness harms everybody.
The story of Tiddalik the Frog' is based on a Dreaming from the Aboriginal people of South Gippsland in Victoria. Tiddalik is the perfect name for this water-holding frog as it sounds like the water trickling out of him.