The world wakes to a panoply of colour and light.
The stars slipped away, leaving only a dull velvet canvas fading from black to pearlescent grey. Light crept with wary fingers up the dark curtain, aching to pull it back and spill the new day over the earth.
Humming a quiet melody, Gorogaga slipped the stars into her apron’s pockets, nestling them carefully in the shadows. Her pallet was beside her, curling bark laden with iron-laden red ochre, ochre like sulphurous yolks and sunny days, and the pale white chalky ochre from the far west. The rarest, eggshell blue ochre, she kept separately in a small woven bag.
Head tilted to one side, Gorogaga considered her canvas, smeared eggshell grey by the creeping light.
With quick strokes she took her broad, flat brushes and sketched in hills and treelines creeping over the horizon. Soft pastel pink smudges with feathered edges, wide strokes splashed across the sky. Darker red, crimson blood of the iron earth to pencil in finer details where trees clawed at the sky and rocks poked hard edges towards the clouds using the sharp edges of her beam. The yellow clay she used to guide the fire of the sun and she painted gleaming paths for it to follow, golden threads of like calling to like as the great spirits kindled the day-fire.
White chased to the upper edges of the canvas, pushing the last dark dregs of night ever westwards until they slunk down beneath the earth once more. Gradually filled with colour, and creamy clouds scudding across the painting stained brilliant hues like polychromatic wattle catkins.
As the blue ochre spilled and ran, catching on the horizon and creeping upwards, blotting out the other pigments, Gorogaga tucked the pigment away beneath her dappled wings where it flashed brightly. Sky-stained feathers, the artist’s indelible mark.
And when the morning sky, her great canvas, was dripping with colour and light slid gentle fingers across the land, Gorogaga launched herself skywards with a joyous cry to announce that her masterpiece was finished. She woke the slumbering creatures of the earth as her feather’s rattled in the wind, and they stared in wonder at the kookaburra’s new dawn.
Author’s note: Please be aware that this is not my culture and although I have incorporated some aspects, this is not a traditional story (as far as I know). The most obvious change is the fact that I have altered the name of the kookaburra. I believe I found some reference to the name I used earlier in my research, but cannot find it now - it should properly be Goo-Goor-Gaga. I also took liberties with Goo-Goor-Gaga’s role in the dawn, and I would like to emphasise that I drew inspiration (and the name) from only one of the many and varied Indigenous Australian language groups.
Google informed me that blue ochre exists and was probably used by Indigenous painters, but I don’t know for certain and it may or may not have been used by the group from which I took Goo-Goor-Gaga’s name. I apologise if I have grossly misrepresented any aspects of this culture in an offensive manner; it was not my intention to do so, and I would like to be informed if that is the case. I hope that I nonetheless created short snippet that can be enjoyed by everyone.