Bundjalung people

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Bundjalung people
Aka: Badjalang (Tindale)(Horton)
Bandjalang (SIL)

South Eastern Queensland bioregion
Language family: Pama–Nyungan
Language branch: Bandjalangic
Language group: Bundjalung
Group dialects:
Area (approx. 6,000 sq. km)
Coordinates: 29°15′S152°55′E / 29.250°S 152.917°E / -29.250; 152.917 Coordinates: 29°15′S152°55′E / 29.250°S 152.917°E / -29.250; 152.917
Rivers [4]

Lower reaches of

Other geological: Cape Byron
Urban areas: [4]

The Bundjalung people (also known as Bunjalung, Badjalang and Bandjalang) are Aboriginal Australians who are the original custodians of northern coastal areas of New South Wales (Australia), located approximately 550 kilometres (340 mi) northeast of Sydney, an area that includes the Bundjalung National Park and Mount Warning, known to the Bundjalung people as Wollumbin ("fighting chief of the mountains"). [6]


Bundjalung people all share descent from ancestors who once spoke as their first, preferred language one or more of the dialects of the Bandjalang language.

The Arakwal of Byron Bay count themselves as one of the Bundjalung peoples. [7]



According to Norman Tindale, Bundjalung tribal lands encompassed roughly 2,300 square miles (6,000 km2), from the northern side of the Clarence River to the Richmond River, including Ballina with their inland extension running to Tabulam and Baryugil. The coastal Widje horde ventured no further than Rappville. [4]

Initiation ceremony

According to R. H. Mathews, the Bundjalung rite of transition into manhood began with a cleared space called a walloonggurra some distance from the main camp. On the evening the novices are taken from their mothers around dusk, the men sing their way to this bora ground where a small bullroarer (dhalguñgwn) is whirled. [8]

Religious beliefs

The Bundjalung people believe the spirits of wounded warriors are present within the mountains, their injuries having manifested themselves as scars on the mountainside, and thunderstorms in the mountains recall the sounds of those warriors' battles. Wollumbin itself is the site at which one of the chief warriors lies, and it is said his face can still be seen in the mountain's rocks when viewed from the north. [9]

Wollumbin is the mountain range to the north of Mt Warning, his face and form can be seen in the ranges profile, when viewed from the north, near Chinderah

Land claim

Descendants of two tribes within the modern Bundjalung federation, namely the Githabul and the Western Bundjalung people have had their native title rights recognized, respectively in 2007 [10] and 2017.

Musical instruments

The Bundjalung used a variety of instruments including blowing on a eucalyptus leaf, creating a bird-like sound. Clapsticks were used to establish a drumbeat rhythm on ceremonial dancing occasions. Emu callers, short, one foot, about 30 cm long didgeridoos were traditionally used by the Bundjalung when hunting (Eastern Australia Coastal Emus). When striking the emu-caller at one end with the open palm it sounds like an emu. This decoy attracts the bird out of the bush making it an easy prey.[ citation needed ]

Notable people

Notable Bundjalung people include:

Alternative names

Camp at Gladfield, A Pencil drawing by Martens, Conrad (1801–78) dated Dec. 29th 1851 - 19.1 x 31.1cm held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

See also



    1. Bunjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) Indigenous Land.
    2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sharpe 1994.
    3. 1 2 Bandjalang at Ethnologue (20th ed., 2017)
    4. 1 2 3 4 5 Tindale 1974, p. 191.
    5. Bunjalung Jugun (Bunjalung Country), Jennifer Hoff, Richmond River Historical Society, 2006, ISBN   1-875474-24-2, citing Yamba Yesterday, Howland and Lee, Yamba Centenary Committee, 1985
    6. Steele 1984, pp. 51–52.
    7. Agreements.
    8. Mathews 1900, pp. 67–73,67.
    9. Steele 1984, pp. 52.
    10. NNTT 2007.
    11. ABC 2009.
    12. Langford Ginibi 1995, p. 4.