A timeless classic from the Dreamtime. There are innumerable names and stories associated with the Rainbow Serpent, all of which communicate the significance of this being within Aboriginal traditions. Dreamtime stories tell how the Rainbow Serpent came from beneath the ground and created huge ridges, mountains and gorges as it pushed upward. The name also reflects the snake-like meandering of water across a landscape and the colour spectrum sometimes caused by sunlight hitting the water. Paintings of the Rainbow Serpent first appeared in Arnhem Land rock art more than 6000 years ago, and perhaps as early as 8000 years before the present, as the seas rose after the last Ice Age. Today the Rainbow Serpent is associated with ceremonies about fertility and abundance, as well as the organisation of the community and the keeping of peace.
This was a winner of the Australian Picture Book of the Year award in 1976
It is a Dreaming story – an Aboriginal Creation story. The illustrations are magnificent, and capture the ochres and reds of the internal landscape, the green of the gum trees. The text is accessible for young children (about 4 and up).
Dick Roughsey (c.1920 – 1985) was an Australian Aboriginal artist from the Lardil language group on Mornington Island in the south-eastern Gulf of Carpentaria, Queensland. His tribal name was Goobalathaldin meaning ‘the ocean, dancing’, describing a ‘rough sea’.(Telgen and Andres 132) He was an active and prominent figure involved in reviving and preserving the cultural life of the Lardil people. His best known works are a series of children’s picture books that retell traditional Aboriginal stories including ‘The Rainbow Serpent’.