The laughing frog

Fleeing the dismal continual rain in Lismore for a few days, we visited Warwick in south-east Queensland, a two-hour drive from home. As soon as we crossed the border, the rain stopped. What was that old advertising slogan? “Queensland – beautiful one day, perfect the next.” Like many other places in SE Qld and northern NSW, it’s had LOTS of rain.

We were surprised to come across a statue of Tiddalik by the river.


Tiddalik, the water-swallower and drought-breaker. Yes, that is a giant sandstone lizard behind it.

Giant lizard statue, Warwick

Giant lizard statue, Warwick

The Aboriginal dreaming story tells of a frog who was very thirsty and drank all the water from the rivers and streams. The animals despaired until one got the idea to make him laugh. Nothing worked until the eel danced and tied himself into strange shapes. Then Tiddalik laughed and the water gushed forth to fill the drought-stricken places.

Well, Tiddalik must have been laughing long and loud lately. The park has a board showing flood heights. Tiddalik must have been under water a lot.

Flood heights, Warwick - Tidalik is just visible on the left

Flood heights, Warwick – Tiddalik is just visible on the left

One things for sure, the cycle of drought and flood has always been and will continue to be a feature of the Australian landscape. Perhaps that’s why Tiddalik looks a bit smug.

This entry was posted in Art, Frogs, Travels and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The laughing frog

  1. kathy says:

    I have read the story of Tiddalik. It’s a good one. The sculptures are lovely, just plopped in the park. Thanks for sharing.

  2. peonyden says:

    Loved the story of Tiddalik – not familiar with that story.

  3. janebeau says:

    Tiddalik has a distinct twinkle in his eye!

  4. Martin says:

    Please despatch some rain, with or without accompanying frog (as long as it isn’t a cane toad) towards Canberra!

    • Joy Window says:

      Hi Martin. Plenty of cane toads here – hope they never get to you. Wish I could syphon off some rain to you. Maybe you could persuade an eel to dance for a frog – it can’t hurt to try!

  5. Cath Clark says:

    School children are taught this story in Australia these days as I understand it, and there’s even a song to go with. When I was a Guide leader the girls called me Tidlik. I’ve seen the legend done at a market by some talented puppeteers with fantastic sets made to look like a giant story book, and including giant spiders set amongst the audience. The water was represented by a giant, translucent blue plastic sheet that was floated over the audience.

  6. Speaking of laughing frogs have you seen this recent story about gastric brooding frogs? I don’t think I’m hijacking you comment stream since this is a frog and it is (or was) in Australia –

    • Joy Window says:

      No problem – you saved me the trouble! I saw it – I follow Ed Yong’s terrific blog (“Not Exactly Rocket Science”). Mike Tyler, who discovered the frog in 1974, was in the Zoology Department of Adelaide Uni when you and I were there (me in the Zoology Department, you in Chemistry). He’s since gone on the become a world expert in frogs. Mike Archer is famous for, among other things, advocating the keeping of Australian native mammals as pets – in Australia where it is illegal unless you have a special licence – in preference to dogs, cats and so on. The smaller ones, like sugar gliders, are kept as “pocket pets” in the US.

  7. Patricia Dubus says:

    a lot about the cool frog, but what about that giant lizard? What is the story about him?

    • Joy Window says:

      Hi Patricia. I think it’s an eastern water dragon (Physignathus leseuerii) – I’m sure there are Indigenous stories about water dragons, but I don’t know them. There are a lot of such lizards in that area.

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