According to Indigenous Australian Dreamtime legend, there were 3 sisters, Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, who resided in the Jamison Valley, being from the Katoomba aboriginal tribe.
A neighbour tribe, the Nepean, caused a bit of a stir, when the 3 sisters fell in love with 3 tribal Nepean men. This was prohibited by tribal law.
The Nepean men, were not happy with such a law and captured the 3 sisters. During a battle for the sisters, an Elder from Katoomba tribe turned them into stone to protect them, he was subsequently killed in battle before he could turn them back.
There are some variations and conjecture in regards to this Dreamtime legend, but I find it quite fascinating to think these wonderful rock formations may have such significant importance for the Gundungurra people, the traditional owners of the land.
Other versions that I have heard include one in which the 3 Sister's father, Tyawan, was a Witch Doctor. Tyawan, would leave his daughters on the cliff behind a rock wall and headed to the valley floor. Meehni frightened by a centipede threw a stone at it and unfortunately for Meehni, the stone rolled over the edge into the valley below. There was an eerie silence as the rocks wall behind the 3 sisters split open, leaving them on a thin ridge. The feared Bunyip emerged from his hole and saw the sisters terrified.
Tyawan now in the valley, saw the Bunyip, a bad spirited creature was too close, so Tyawan pointed his magic bone and turned them into stone. The Bunyip chased The Witch Doctor father to the now 3 stone daughters and became trapped, so he transformed into a Lyre Bird.
Is it Tyawan trying to find his magic bone? (Wikimedia Commons)
With all safe, Tyawan realised his magic bone was missing and so Dreamtime has it. He is still trying to find it while the 3 daughters wait patiently and silently watching from the ridge awaiting to be transformed back.
While at the Three Sisters, if you listen carefully you can occasionally hear Tyawan, now the Lyre Bird, calling his daughters while he still looks for his magic bone.
Another version I grew up being told was originally there were 7 sisters, Orphan Rock is the 4th as the rest have crumpled into the Jamison Valley floor over the decades or erosion, but I was never informed who the 7 sisters were and who Orphan Rock is named after?
Can you add to this or do you have another version?
Due to the current fires in the Blue Mts, please check with RFS first.
Archeologically, there were 7 rocks originally. Presumably when the Aboriginal first came to the area there were still 7. 7 sisters/dreamtime spirits are part of many Aboriginal Nations dreamtime stories around Australia. 7 stars in the southern cross is one manifestation. So when the first group came to the Blue Mountains and saw 7 rocks they named them 7 sisters. Obviously, one by one they crumbled. At some point there will be two remaining and so on.
This is similar to white settlers seeing the "twelve apostles" for the first time in South Australia. There are now less than 12 because of erosion. Imagine how indignant we would feel if the Government renamed them 10 apostles or 8 apostles! This is is getting close to how some Aboriginal elders feel who have not lost their earlier dreamtime story.