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Kim-barrne Wadawurrung tabayi—Welcome to Wadawurrung Country

Many of Angair’s activities occur on Wadawurrung Country which extends from east of Painkalac Creek to Werribee in the east and Beaufort and Ballarat in the north: an area over 10,000 square kilometres.


wadawarrungcountryWadawurrung dja (country)

As part of our acknowledgement of the Wadawurrung people’s traditional custodianship and continuing connection to land, sea, community and culture, we can pay our respect by learning some of the Traditional Owners’ language.

The Wadawurrung form part of the Kulin Nation, a grouping of five distinct but related language groups from the Port Phillip region. The other four groups are the Boonwurrung, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Woiwurrung (usually known as the Wurundjeri). The five are connected through Bunjil (the Wedge-tailed Eagle), the creation spirit of the Kulin, and Waa (Australian Raven), the protector of waterways.

wedgetailedeagleBunjil (the Wedge-tailed Eagle)

Waa (Australian Raven)

As an oral language, Wadawurrung has been subject over time to vagaries of transcription: Wathaurong, Wathawurrung and Wathaurrung. But Wadawurrung is the accepted spelling and used in the name of the Wadawurrung Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation which is the group’s representative body and a Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP) under the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Act.

How many of us know the Wadawurrung origin of some of our local place names and what they mean? Many show similar transcription changes to that of the Wadawurrung people. Ballarat is rendered fairly closely to Ballaarat which means ‘resting place’. Geelong is Djilang, a ‘tongue of land or peninsula’. Connewarre is a version of kunuwarra, the name of the Black Swan. Corio comes from korayn meaning ‘salty bay’. The You Yangs are Youang and the Werribee River is Wirribi-yaluk.

geelongDjilang (Geelong) waterfront

Others record the distinguishing feature of a place. Anglesea is Kuarka-dorla from ‘kuarka’, a fishing place, and ‘dorla’, mullet. Modewarre tells of the abundance of Musk Duck, Waurn Ponds comes from ‘waurn’ meaning houses and Kardinia means ‘early morning light’. Winchelsea is Walert, the word for the Brushtail Possum. Skipton is Wirran, the name of the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

What are the names of other animals in Wadawurrung? Djirnap is the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Kuwarrk is the Kookaburra, a Parrwang is a Magpie, Waanawal is the Southern Boobook and Wurrwirrt is a Wood Duck.

magpieParwang (Magpie)

A wallaby is a go-yin, a kangaroo is a goim. The echidna is mon-gark and its fellow montreme, the platypus, is perridak. The koala is a tongue-testing ngaambulmum.

Mon-gark (Echidna)

If you need help with ngaambulmum, djirnap or any other of the above, the free Wadawurrung language introduction app gives the correct pronunciation of a wide range of words.

Rod Brooks
(photos from Pixabay)