Australia, around 2014BP: the time of the great games of prowess - managed by the Kubbi-kabi tribe of southeast Queensland. Jundabara, the Fethafoot warrior from The Contest is attending the great event with his growing son Wogwun and his practical, often short-tempered wife Niyola. Both Niyola and Jundabara have entered themselves in some of the demanding physical contests - and between their various rough and ready competitions and several unscheduled events: including a game of full-contact burionjin with the huge, hairy-man, Grok - and, being surreptitiously attacked by his tiniest enemy ever, Jundabara knows that he will need every bit of training and patience he owns to keep the peace and get his family group safely through this great unique event.
Around 2014BP: or, when the modern calendar begins ...
The sweating semi-naked black boy scaled the tall gum tree like the big lizard that was his totem. His resilient lithe young body surmounted trunk and limb with the same ease as his goanna totem.
Strapped to his shiny, muscle toned back and swinging out and around him as he climbed, was the bone target that he had been chosen to place. He climbed ever higher, shrinking in view to the watching elders below, until he reached the thin wind-swept topmost branches. Once there, he clung tight with his thin strong legs wrapped around the thickest branch he could find as he swayed to and fro in the clear blue sky. The branch he was on bent dangerously, barely supporting his small frame and he held on with one hand to the small branches above him to keep balanced.
From this vantage point he could see far out into the country around him. The smoke trails rising lazily into the clear air from the fires of the many groups already camped, thrilled him to bits: it meant that the wait was over – the Games would begin very soon now.
A thousand voices rose humbly in praise to the Mother and the Law and sang out as one – a wonderful cacophony of sound that startled even the oldest members of the gathering. Jundabara opened his eyes and looked at Niyola to see if she too was affected. His beautiful young wife was swaying, hands in the air like most of the crowd and singing with such harmonious vibrancy that Jundabara felt tears streaming from his eyes. Abruptly the hairs on his body stood up as if electrified. The rushing power was so physically demanding that he could feel each single hair on his body tingle. He could even feel his son’s tiny silken hairs pushing out against his own. He peered at the dancers through misty eyes as he recognised Fethafoot power – with its tell-tale lively blue light – pouring out from the dancers and into the crowd.
Waste not-want not
Nothing was ever wasted. The children crunched on feet and crispy paw and argued loudly about who should have the succulent shrivelled eyeballs. When the meat had disappeared, the adults shared out the cooked entrails, dipping the nut-bread and savouring the delicate flavours that only came from cooked internal organs. Even the stomach, which had shrunk to a ball of roasted soft brown flesh, was shared and eaten gratefully. Water was shared around, then the children cooked the Bulyum grubs by throwing them on the hot coals and roasting the large wriggling grubs until they were shrivelled and golden brown. These were placed back into coolamons and crunched and eaten while squeezing the little pots of honey into their mouths, leaving a delicate sweet smoky taste after each tiny dessert. “The ’rang catching contest will start soon over the creek in the clearing, near that little billabong we saw yesterday children. If you want to go now, you might see some of the men practising,” Niyola said. The children ran off screeching and shouting before she had finished talking.