The Kaangkan Brothers

The Kaangkan Brothers (English language) from Cairns ILS on Vimeo.

Also available as an MP4 from the State Library of Queensland.


Author: Story told by the Elders of Pormpuraaw
Artwork:The children of Pormpuraaw State School

Storytellers: Cecelia Peter, Sid Bruce Shortjoe, Joel Ngallametta and Marlene Holroyd
Indigenous Knowledge Coordinator: Rosie Lowdon
Language consultant: Maggie Koo'aga
Facilitating animators: Paul Lalo and Jennie Vigaud
Facilitating artist: Charlie Street
Sound artist: Will Kepa


Narrator: Marlene Holroyd
Elder: Sid Bruce Shortjoe
Brother 1: Devaine Shortjoe
Brother 2: Joel Ngallametta

Thanks and acknowledgementsPorpuraaw State School Principal: Louise Jappe
Pormpuraaw Community Services Manager: Barbara Camp
Pormpuraaw Art and Culture Centre Incorporated: Paul Jakubowski
Pegasus Studios: Nigel Pegrum

Participating children and their families in Culture Love 2012, without whom the project would not have been possible.

With funding assistance from the Australian Government's Indigenous Culture and Support program and Arts Queensland's Backing Indigenous Arts


1:  A long time ago there were two brothers, both called Kaangkan. They lived way down Yiibeh at Staten River.

One day the tribal Elder Manthayan said,

‘Kaangkan it is time. You must go to Pala Kungkeh to the sacred site, the Bora ground, to learn how to become men.’

2:  Although a bit afraid, the two brothers set out northward. As they walked they sang a song they had known all their lives.

The two brothers walked a long way and then had a rest and something to eat.

3:   It wasn’t long before one of them said:

‘Brother, you hear that?’

The other listened.

‘Me’eh! Quick run!’

The mosquitos chased the brothers away from that place.

4: They decided to change direction and head inland, so they would not be attacked again.

They sang with each step and before too long it was time for another rest.

Then they were caught in a lightning storm!

‘Brother, watch out, thapan!’

The brothers scrambled to hide in the bush to escape.

‘Brother, maybe we are in the wrong place. This must be the lightening story place, Pankalthun.’

5: Continuing northward the brothers reached Waala by mid-afternoon.

As it was the time for salmon, the two brothers caught fish for their dinner:

‘Brother, look, malitha!’

And a korrwu too!

The brothers then crossed the river on a floating stick. One was afraid, but the other said:

‘Hold tight, we are nearly there brother.’

6: When they reached the other side they began singing the song they had sang their whole journey. This time the words were different. They were the words of this new country.

The brothers walked around the place that is Pormpurraw until they finally they reached the Bora ground, the place where only men can go.

7: When they returned home to their family, the brothers told them of all the things they had seen and done.

That night they had a big feast to celebrate the brothers’ homecoming with much dancing and singing around the fire.

Manthayan said to them:

‘Welcome home, Kaangkan brothers. You have returned as men.’

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