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How water and prehistoric animal bones came together at the spring.
The presence of bones of extinct animals at Cuddie Springs was known before the scientific exploration in the 1930s and the investigation over the past twenty years. Anderson and Fletcher (1934), liberally quoted in this story, wrote that ‘the spring itself was well known in the early days as the only source of water in a dry season between Marra Creek and the Macquarie and Barwon rivers. It is probable, however, that the water was not of good quality, for it is understood that in the language of the Marra [people who lived along Marra Creek] Cuddy means bad'.
Cuddie Springs is about 80 km southeast of Brewarrina. It is ‘a shallow depression or claypan, roughly circular in shape’ and about 160m in diameter. ‘It is situated in a vast plain. After heavy rain this depression is covered with water and becomes the resort of myriads of ducks and other waterfowl. The spring no longer discharges at the surface, as its source of supply seems to have been tapped by an artesian bore which was sunk in the neighbourhood ... thirty years ago’.
‘In 1876 Mr Yeomans put down a well at Cuddie Springs to a depth of about [8 metres] in the hope that the flow of water, which was falling off, would be increased. It was during the sinking of this well that fossil bones were first discovered here, and the small collection was forwarded to Sydney’.
More importantly, Anderson and Fletcher recount the Dreamtime story suggesting that the Wailwan People, to whom this land belong, knew of the extinct animals well before colonial times. Once it was a gigantic gum tree, some kilometres tall, which stood near the Geerah Waterhole on the bank of the Barwon River, several miles from Cuddie Springs. Aboriginal peoples frequently camped near the tree. High in the tree branches a pair of enormous eagles had built their nest. The eagles used to snatch the Aboriginal babies to feed their young. People were fed up with these troublesome neighbours and decided to cut the tree down. When the tree fell its top reached precisely to Cuddie Springs. The trunk was hollow and water ran along this gigantic pipe discharging at the spring. The water brought with it all the bones of the large animals that eaglets used to eat. Thus the spring originated with all the bones that are found there.
Charles Anderson & Harold Fletcher: The Cuddie Springs bone bed. The Australian
Museum Magazine 5 (1934) 152–158.