PART 1: THE RAINBOW SERPENT
Pre-eminent in the pantheon of mythical beasts is the Rainbow Serpent. This is a gigantic snake with multi-hued scales. During the Dreamtime or Altjeringa, an infinite spiritual cycle that exists outside of normal time, the Rainbow Serpent created river and waterholes as it crawled across the land. The Rainbow Serpent is liked to rainfall and the control of water in the same way Asian dragons are.
The Rainbow Serpent has many names in different parts of Australia; these include Borlung, Ngalyod and Wonambi. This last name was incorporated into the scientific name of a giant Madtsoid snake Wonambi naracoortensis whose fossils have been found at Naracoorte, South Australia. This huge snake live fairly recently and would have been known to early Aborigines. It has been postulated that it may have been the inspiration for the Rainbow Serpent. It grew to around six meters long. Another candidate at ten meters was Bluff Downs giant python Liasis dubudinala although at 4.5 million years old it lived well before the time of modern humans. Early Aborigines may have unearthed its fossil bones however. Another giant Australian python was named Montypythonoides riversleighensis. This nine metre snake lived even earlier at 15 million years ago.