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The Old Woman Who Stole Children

In the bush around Mansfield (on Taungurung country) there was a wicked old woman. She would find and keep captive those little children who wandered away from their family's camp.

One little boy thought he would never be caught by the wicked woman. He assumed that because he was so loved and that everywhere he went people would give him treats that those same people would watch over him.

One day he suddenly disappeared and despite calling and looking him for a long time, no one could find him. It was then that people remembered the old woman who took children. She had taken him. When the people pleaded with her to return the little boy she refused. She had hidden him deep underground.

In desperation the people went to Bunjil the creator and asked him to convince the old woman to return the little boy to the tribe and his family. Bunjil instructed Gawarn, the spiny anteater, to help the people find the child. Gawarn burrowed deep under the old woman's camp and it was there that he found the little boy very frightened but not hurt.

Once the boy was found, Bunjil told the Taungurung people, 'Never let your children wander away from your camp again'. To the little boy, Bunjil said, 'Let this be a lesson, do not wander away again'.