Krubi was the name of the beautiful black girl who became a waratah, and amongst the aborigines of the Burragorang Valley the name is only given to one girl of any tribe, of all its branches; and then only when the mother or the father has been reckoned to be very good looking, and the child is expected, therefore, to bear the same advantage (if advantage it is); so that not a baby girl can be christened Krubi until the former Krubi is dead.
Once upon a time, not long after the original Krubi had become a waratah plant, and her red cloak had made the brilliant hue of the flower, and only a very few other Krubis had ever been so named, a young lubra wife had determined that should she ever have a girl baby it must bear the coveted name. The living Krubi was very old, and already she had more than once failed to carry what her youngest child had put into her dilly-bag. That was the sign that her husband could leave her to the care of that youngest child, instead of staying back to aid her along.
The young wife wished for old Krubi's death very much. She was never far away when Krubi was being assisted by Warrindie, the youngest Of her family. But never did the good-looking lubra (Woolyan) so much as place her hand under Krubi's elbow.
But Krubi was wonderfully tenacious of life. She battled on.
She was relieved from all work. She had only to carry the dilly-bag when the tribe were moving, and they did not move much.
Woolyan grew very anxious. Her longing for the death of Krubi grew a passion. At last she determined to "bone" Krubi. No woman had ever done that. Only the men of her tribe were accustomed to kill by "boning."
So Woolyan picked out the fine shinbone of a big dingo, and she rubbed it with sand from the bed of the creek until it was white and smooth, and she hid it in her hair, awaiting the time when she could catch Krubi alone.
Many days sped by; several moons came and went.
Then the blacks determined to have a corroboree.
A good young man had been having private lessons in the things that were taught which Krubi and Woolyan and the other women were not permitted to see, and then came the great night.
It was very dark. A space had been cleared amongst the giant gum trees. But whilst it was still daylight the young women had chosen their places. Woolyan was delighted to see that Krubi was not well enough to take her place in the little march that the active old women made. So she got up from her place, and going back to Krubi, she hurriedly undid her hair that she had done up to hold the bone concealed, but before she could catch hold of it the thing fell to the ground.
Old Krubi saw it.
Then did old age give place to greater activity than youth possessed. With a bound and a yell Krubi jumped forward and stamped her foot on the death-dealing bone.
And Krubi's youngest bounded too. Woolyan was caught in a grip that she could not shake off, and blow after blow found her face and head and shoulders.
The corroboree was abandoned. The tribe surrounded the fighting women. But the chief demanded that the hubbub stop, and Krubi tell the cause of the trouble.
The sentence upon Woolyan was death. Before she was to die she "went bush." The beautiful waratahs were in bloom, and when Woolyan saw them all her false pride and hatred left her.
Kneeling beside a plant covered with the beautiful red flowers, her tears fell into them. They were tears of repentance. And as she wept her child was born.
She laid it at the foot of a waratah bush.
When the men who were to club her to death came and saw her they were filled with a great compassion.
So they sent for old Krubi.
There was a great reconciliation, and the tears of both women fell into the waratahs.
Woolyan's husband happened to smell the blooms and the scent was good. He plucked one separate flower, and the liquid within it crept into his fingers, He put them into his mouth, and, lo, the taste was very sweet!
So that day the waratah became a further source of comfort to the aborigines.
Sir James Smith wrote of it in 1793: "It is, moreover, a great favourite with the natives. upon account of a rich honeyed juice which they sip from its flowers."