The story of
Publedina - The Wombat

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The Tasmanian Aboriginal Story, Publedina - The Wombat, tells the story of how the wombat came to be recognised as clever, brave and strong.

The Drogerdy was a furry animal who loved to play in the bush. It enjoyed playing tricks on other creatures. Most of all it enjoyed outsmarting humans who often came into the bush to hunt.

One day the Drogerdy found a group of men who had been hunting for food, but without success. Unknown to the men, the Drogerdy had been warning the forest animals, telling them to stay away from the men. This had made it even more difficult for the men to get any food.

The men decided to stop and get some rest. After warming themselves by a fire, they slowly dropped off to sleep.

While they slept, the Drogerdy got up to its usual tricks. It started to kick ash and sparks from the fire into the faces of the men. It kept doing this until finally the men awoke in pain and fright. Then it ran off to hide.

The Drogerdy enjoyed all this very much and laughed heartily to itself. The men were astonished but could not work out what had happened. Eventually they put it down to the wind and went back to sleep.

The Drogerdy got back into action again. This time it could not stop itself even when the men started to wake up. It did not run off but kept up its playful antics.

Eventually one of the men managed to grab the Drogerdy.

The men decided to keep the Drogerdy buried in the ground through the night. They next day they would take the Drogerdy with them for food. One of the men even slept above the ground where the Drogerdy lay, to make sure it would not get away.

The next morning the men were surprised to find that the Drogerdy was gone! When they investigated, they saw the Drogerdy tunneling away underground. They tried hard to get hold of it but to no avail.

At last they called upon Moihernee, the great god who ruled over the whole land. Moihernee was scornful toward the hunters. He told them that instead of complaining, they should admire the Drogerdy for being so clever.

The men began to feel ashamed. They were upset about being rebuked by Moihernee. They considered what Moihernee had said to them.

After some time they realised that the Drogerdy was only having fun. They should not be upset at the Drogerdy. They thought about how silly they had been and began to laugh.

They decided to call out to the Drogerdy and let it know that they were not angry with it anymore.

The Drogerdy was not sure if it could trust the men. However, it knew it could escape if necessary, so it finally decided to return to the men.

Then men apologised to the Drogerdy. They called it "brave little digger with no tail". They gave it a new name - Publedina - and said it would be bigger and stronger. It was free to dig and play anywhere.

And this is how Publedina (or the wombat) came to be known as clever, brave and strong.

Source of information on this page:
Taraba: Tasmanian Aboriginal Stories, Hobart, DECCD, 1

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