Today we accept lightning as a natural phenomenon--magical, but easily explained by science. Traditional Aboriginal people accepted it too, but like many people of today, were cautious of it. The Dreamtime legends of lightning and its sometimes terrible effects are many. Although the legends vary from place to place, most of them agree in portraying lightning as an element of rage.
The following legend is from Arnhem Land, where the lightning has always been given a human form.
The lightning man was called Wala-Unayua.
Wala-Unayua lived in a deep waterhole in the river known now as Liverpool River. He went quietly ashore now and then to hunt wallabies and much of the time lived peacefully.
The local people knew, though, that Wala-Unayua was easily angered and that if an Aboriginal hunter was foolish enough to wander into that territory, lightning would strike him down.
It was also known that Wala-Unayua would leap into the sky and create a ferocious storm if a stone was accidently or worse yet deliberately tossed into his waterhole.
During the wet heat of the monsoon season, he was at his most dangerous. As soon as the monsoon rains began to fall, Wala-Unayua would fly into an uncontrollable rage. In that rage, he would travel across the sky, hiding in the thick clouds and with his angry voice thundering, crashing and echoing across the land. Flashing the lightning of his long arms and legs, he would savagely attack the earth, throwing down trees and leaving a stricken landscape in his path.
Wala-Unayua would gradually become calmer as the monsoon season came to an end, eventually returning to the quiet of his waterhole. There he would stay, always on the watch, ready to strike out again if anyone or anything dared to disturb him.