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This pages does not contain all the information about this language group. This is information about this language group. This is a community project and we welcome additional insight into this language group. You can find where to contribute at the bottom of this page.
BUNDJALUNG LANGUAGE GROUP
Bandjalang, Banjalang, Bunjulung, Bunjalung or Badjelang
Spoken in the area that included the north-east corner of New South Wales and the South-Eastern Corner of Queensland, this area stretched from Grafton on the Clarence River in the South, to the Logan River in the North and inland as far as the Great Dividing Range at Tenterfield and Warwick.
This language group belongs to the Pama-Nyungan family of Australian languages. Bundjalung uses four vowels: i, a, u and e and 10 consonants: b, d, ,dj, g, m, n, ng, ny, l, r, w and y. Nouns take many different suffixes (endings) to mark the role of: subject, object, instrument, location, movement towards, possession and to make the noun masucline or feminine. Nouns can also show singular and plural in three forms: masculine, feminine and neuter or tree nouns. Verbs have four tenses: future, present and two pasts; different suffixes also show that someone continues to do something or that people are doing something to each other.
A Bundjalung – Yugambeh Dictionary is available online here
The Snake and the Goanna
Bundjalung people have taught their language and culture within communities for many years. At first contact with Europeans in the mid 1800s there were up to 20 dialects spoken, the term Bundjalung covers all of these dialects. Some of these dialects include: Wahlubal or Western Bandjalang, Yugambeh, Birrihn, Barryugil, Bandjalang, Wudjebal, Wiyabal, Wuhyabal, Minyangbal, Gidhabal, Galibal and Ngarranhngbal. Many of the names for these dialects are named after the characteristics of the dialects, for example, Gidhabal means ‘those who say gidha (alright)’. Colonisation had a significant impact on the practice of these language dialects, the practice of culture, population and inhabitation of traditional areas. The use of Bundjalung was purposefully suppressed following the introduction of English as the common language.
Associated Dreaming Stories
The Rainbow Snake
The Budjalung people tell us that the Rainbow Snake and Goanna worked together to create this language group’s area. This story is told by Douglas Cook, a Bundjalung man, to Jolanda Nayutah before he died. Jolanda Nayutah worked in the Aboriginal Institute in Lismore.
Rainbow Snake had been very bad. What he did is a secret, and cannot be told here, but it was so bad that a local clever man called on Goanna to chase Rainbow Snake away. Only Goanna was powerful enough to deal with Rainbow Snake. Goanna chased Rainbow Snake down towards the coast and as they went they formed parts of the Richmond River. At Woodburn they left the Richmond River and kept on going. Half-way down the Evans River, Goanna caught Rainbow Snake. Snake turned around and bit him. Goanna then stopped to eat some herbs to heal himself. When he felt better he resumed his chase. Meanwhile, Snake had reached Evans Head. He looked around. Goanna was nowhere to be seen, so he decided to go back. As he turned his body made a small island in the river, now known as Pelican Island. When he spotted Goanna heading towards him, he quickly turned, and this time he kept going until he reached the ocean, and made himself into an island so Goanna wouldn’t recognise him. Goanna reached the coast. He lay down facing the sea, waiting for Rainbow Snake to come back. And you can still hear Rainbow Snake and see Goanna today at Evans Head.
The Three Brothers:
Oral tradition explains how the Bundjalang people settled on the land through the Three Brothers Story.
In the very beginning, Three Brothers Mamoonth, Yarbirri and Birrung together with their wives and mother travelled from far across the sea, arriving on the Australian coast at the mouth of the Clarence River. Their boat, however, was blown out to sea in a storm, so the brothers decided to build new canoes in order to return to their homeland. They completed building the canoes but could find no sign of their mother who had gone to look for food, so they set off without her. On returning to find she had been left behind, their mother climbed to the top of the hill at Goanna Headland near Evans Head and cursed them for abandoning her. She called to the ocean in anger. The water rose creating the first waves on the North Coast and the wild seas forced the brothers back to land at Bullinah (known as Ballina). Once the seas had abated one of the brothers returned south to find their mother. They settled near Bullinah, developed families and a thriving community. Eventually the brothers decided they had to populate the land, so one went north, another west and the third to the south, forming the three branches of the Bundjalung people. It was through these brothers that this area was populated, and that the laws were passed on. According to Bundjalung Legend, The Founding Three Brothers made one of their famous landings at what is now Lennox Head said to be near today a group of black rocks on the beach. When one of the brothers Yarbirri, thrust a spear into the sand, fresh water ran (lake Ainsworth) and it is said when the tide is low you can still see a rusty stain. After their landing at Lennox Head, the Three Brothers moved north towards Brunswick Heads, where they created the first bora ground. Thousands of years later, a bora ground remains at Lennox Head, protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is open to the public.
Wollumbin is an important sacred mountain site resting above Tweed Valley. Wollumbin was named Mt Warning by Captain Cook as it towers 1100 meters above the sea and acts as a warning to seafarers of numerous treacherous reefs along the coast.
This is the dreamtime story of Wollumbin, said to be Warrior Chief of the mountain. The spirits of the mountains were warriors. The wounds they received in battles can be seen as scars on the side of the mountains dn the thunder and lightning are the effects of their battles. When you look toward Wollumbin from the north, you can see the face of the Warrior Chief in the mountain’s outline