Murray Cod “Ponde” - The River Creator
The lore of the Aboriginal tribes of the lower Murray River, a group the colonialists named the Ngarrindjeri, tells how Australia’s Murray-Darling River basin was created. The basin is bigger than Egypt, covering 1,061,469 km2 (409,835 sq mi) of Queensland, most of NSW and Victoria, and flows into the ocean through South Australia.
Many aeons ago a giant ancestral cod, named Ponde or Pondi, lived in a very straight Murray river. An ancestral hero, Ngurunderi, was looking for his two wives when he saw Ponde in the water and he decided to hunt Ponde before resuming his search for his wives. As Ngurunderi gave chase Pondi raced away by thrashing his powerful tail, forming bends, billabongs and other features of the river system as they raced down the river.
Ngurunderi finally caught up at Lake Alexandrina where he speared Ponde and carved him up according to the rules for how share food among the people. Ngurunderi then threw the excess flesh of the giant Ponde back into the Lake. These became the other species, like golden perch and bony bream, of the Murray-Darling system. Ngurunderi then pushed the bony carcass back into the water and said ‘You keep on being Ponde’ and this created the Murray Cod.
The long saga of Ngurunderi and Ponde has many variations between tribal boundaries, but through song and ceremonies it has served as very accurate oral map of the Murray-Darling River system that pinpoints vital resources, serves as a calendar of seasonal availability, and regulates the movement of people. The best knowledge however remains the guarded secret of initiated knowledge keepers who can reliably navigate this vast river system even along parts they have never visited before.
When fishing for Murray Cod, always be respectful of the 60,000 years of stewardship that went before you and enjoy one of the great fishing experiences of the world.