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Boobook Owl: Stradbroke Island Story

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A Boobook Owl is displayed in the Inquiry Centre at Queensland Museum South Bank.


My name is Kirsten, and I am a descendant of the Tungak people from New Ireland province in Papua New Guinea. All the clans from my island have special connections with birds, and we celebrate this by creating songs and dances about them. Today I’m sharing a story about the Boobook Owl. This story belongs to an Aboriginal woman from Stradbroke Island, and she has given me permission to tell it because her people and mine have similar relationships with birds.

“…that little one … that Boobook owl – she’s very special to my family and to many Aboriginal people. I remember … the doctor said, “Tell all the family to come – your Aunty will not make it through the night.” Such a sad time! Then we heard it – ‘mo-poke, mo-poke’, slow, steady and certain – telling us that all would be well. She was right that little owl – the next day my Aunty was sitting up and eating mud crab!

Aunty was with us for another twenty years after that!

Very special bird that owl … have to look after that one, hey?”

Can you hear her call?

Goori (Aboriginal people) from Stradbroke Island have a very special relationship with the Boobook owl (also known as the mopoke). The owl brings people messages, just like certain birds on my island bring my clans people messages. It is so important that we all work together to preserve these birds’ natural habitats, to ensure the relationship between the birds and the people continues.

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