Wathawurrung language

Last updated
Region Victoria
Ethnicity Wathaurong people
Extinct (date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 wth
Glottolog wath1238 [1]

Kulin Map.PNG

The five Kulin nations. Wathawurrung ('Wathaurong') is in on the coast in green.

Wathawurrung (Wathaurong, Wada wurrung; obsolete Barrabool) is the extinct Indigenous Australian language spoken by the Wathaurong people of the Kulin Nation of Central Victoria. It was spoken by 15 clans south of the Werribee River and the Bellarine Peninsula to Streatham.

Kulin ethnic group

The Kulin nation is an alliance of five Indigenous Australian tribes in south central Victoria, Australia. Their collective territory extends around Port Phillip and Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys.

Victoria (Australia) State in Australia

Victoria is a state in south-eastern Australia. Victoria is Australia's smallest mainland state and its second-most populous state overall, making it the most densely populated state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea to the east, and South Australia to the west.

Bellarine Peninsula peninsula in Victoria, Australia

The Bellarine Peninsula is a peninsula located south-west of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, surrounded by Port Phillip, Corio Bay and Bass Strait. The peninsula, together with the Mornington Peninsula separates Port Phillip from Bass Strait. The peninsula itself was originally occupied by Indigenous Australian clans of the Wathaurong nation, prior to European settlement in the early 19th century. Early European settlements were initially centred on wheat and grain agriculture, before the area became a popular tourist destination with most visitors arriving by paddle steamer on Port Phillip in the late 19th century.

Placenames derived from Wathawurrung language terms

Barrabool Unclear, variously reported as "oyster", "slope down to water" or "rounded hill". [3]
Barwon From Barrwang meaning "Magpie", same origin as the town of Parwan.
Bungaree Meaning "hut" or "tent". [4]
Buninyong From Buninyouang, recorded by early colonists as meaning "Man lying on back with raised knee", in reference to the profile of Mount Buninyong.
Connewarre From koonoowarra, meaning black swan. Same origin as the town of Koonwarra in South Gippsland. [5]
Corio Possibly "Sandy cliffs", other sources state "small marsupial" or "wallaby".
Geelong From Djillong, Geelong City Council maintains it means "Land" or "Cliffs", [6] other sources suggest it was the original name of Corio Bay. [7]
Gheringhap Either from "gheran" as meaning "timber", then followed by a placename suffix "-hap", [8] or a reference to the black wattle tree. [9]
Gnarwarre Said to be from the name of a local wetland and its waterfowl, possibly same origin as Lake Connewarre from kunuwarra for the black swan.
Jan Juc Either "milk" [10] or "ironbark".
Koorweinguboora Either "where the crane eats frogs" or "land of many waters". [11]
Modewarre The musk duck. [12]
Moolap A meeting place for gathering shellfish.
Moorabool Either from a word for "ghost" or the name for the curlew.
Moriac Meaning "hill".
Parwan From Barrwang meaning "Magpie", same origin as that of the Barwon River.
Werribee From Wirribi-yaluk, the name of the Werribee River, with Wirribi said to mean "spine" or "backbone". [13]
Wingeel From the word for the wedge-tailed eagle and creator spirit. Compare spelling Bunjil from other Kulin languages
Woady Yaloak River From Wurdi-yaluk meaning "big creek".
You Yangs Reportedly Ude Youang, meaning "big mountains". [14]

Related Research Articles

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In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Bunjil is a creator deity, culture hero and ancestral being, often depicted as a wedge-tailed eagle. In the Kulin nation in central Victoria he was regarded as one of two moiety ancestors, the other being Waa the crow. Bunjil has two wives and a son, Binbeal the rainbow. His brother is Palian the bat. He is assisted by six wirmums or shamans who represent the clans of the Eaglehawk moiety: Djart-djart the nankeen kestrel, Thara the quail hawk, Yukope the parakeet, Lar-guk the parrot, Walert the brushtail possum and Yurran the gliding possum.

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Shire of Moorabool Local government area in Victoria, Australia

The Shire of Moorabool is a local government area in Victoria, Australia, located in the western part of the state. It covers an area of 2,110 square kilometres (810 sq mi) and, at the 2016 Census, had a population of 31,818. It includes the towns of Ballan, Bacchus Marsh, Balliang, Mount Wallace, Myrniong, Blackwood, Greendale, Gordon, Korweinguboora and Mount Egerton, Bungaree, Elaine and Wallace. It was formed in 1994 from the amalgamation of the Shire of Bacchus Marsh, Shire of Ballan and parts of the Shire of Bungaree and City of Werribee.

Werribee, Victoria Suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Barwon River (Victoria) river in Victoria, Australia

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Fyansford, Victoria Suburb of Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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Bacchus Marsh Town in Victoria, Australia

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Moorabool River river in Victoria, Australia

The Moorabool River is a river in Victoria, Australia that runs past several small towns and areas such as Meredith, Anakie, and Staughton Vale. The river joins with the Barwon River at Fyansford.

Werribee River river to the west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Werribee River is a perennial river of the Port Phillip catchment that is located on the plain west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The headwaters of a tributary, the Lerderderg River, are north of Ballan near Daylesford and it flows across the basalt plain, through the suburb of Werribee to enter Port Phillip. A linear park follows the Werribee River along much of its course. In total the Werribee River completes a journey of approximately 110 kilometres (68 mi).

Wathaurong, also called the Wathaurung and Wadawurrung, are an Indigenous Australian tribe living in the area near Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula. They are part of the Kulin alliance. The Wathaurung language was spoken by 25 clans south of the Werribee River and the Bellarine Peninsula to Streatham. They were sometimes referred to by Europeans as the Barrabool people. The area they inhabit has been occupied for at least the last 25,000 years, with 140 archaeological sites having been found in the region, indicating significant activity over that period.

Batesford, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Batesford is a small township located approximately 10 kilometres west of Geelong and 67 kilometres south-west of the state capital, Melbourne.

Balliang, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Balliang is a locality in Victoria, Australia. It is divided between the Shire of Moorabool and City of Greater Geelong local government areas. It lies north of Geelong and 54 kilometres (34 mi) from the state capital, Melbourne. At the 2016 census, Balliang had a population of 290.

The Gulidjan, also known as the Kolakngat, perhaps originally Kolidjon, or Colac tribe are an indigenous Australian tribe whose traditional lands cover the Lake Colac region of Victoria, Australia. They occupied the grasslands, woodlands, volcanic plains and lakes region east of Lake Corangamite, west of the Barwon River and north of the Otway Ranges. Their territory bordered the Wathaurong to the north, Djargurd Wurrung to the west, Girai Wurrung to the south-west, and Gadubanud to the south-east.

Lal Lal, Victoria Town in Victoria, Australia

Lal Lal is a town in Victoria (Australia), Australia. The town is located in the Shire of Moorabool and on the Geelong-Ballarat railway line, 108 kilometres (67 mi) west of the state capital, Melbourne. At the 2016 census, Lal Lal and the surrounding area had a population of 476.

Aboriginal Victorians

Aboriginal Victorians, the indigenous Australians of Victoria, Australia, occupied the land for tens of thousands of years prior to European settlement. Aboriginal people have lived a semi-nomadic existence of fishing, hunting and gathering, and farming eels in Victoria for at least 40,000 years.

Millbrook, Victoria Suburb of Shire of Moorabool, Victoria, Australia

Millbrook is a rural district in the state of Victoria, Australia, located 90 kilometres (56 mi) north west of Melbourne. It was formerly called "Moorabool" but the name was changed to avoid confusion with a locality near Geelong. The name "Millbrook" was adopted because of a flour mill erected by Matthew Butterly on the West Moorabool creek. At the time of the 2016 census, Millbrook had a population of 156 down from 550 in 2006, partly reflecting changing boundaries. The soil is volcanic and well-adapted to cereals, potatoes and grazing. The landscape is undulating and preserves remnants of the original open forest. The West Moorabool creek runs through the district. The earliest inhabitants of the area were the Wathaurong, and the Irish were prominent among its European settlers in the mid nineteenth century.

Boonwurrung is an indigenous Australian language traditionally spoken by the Boonwurrung people of the Kulin Nation of Central Victoria prior to European settlement. The last remaining traditional native speakers died in the early 20th century, however there is an active revival movement underway in the Boonwurrung community.

The Kurung were identified as an indigenous Australian group of the State of Victoria by Norman Tindale. The theory that they constituted an independent tribe has been challenged with modern scholarship generally considering them as a clan, associated to one of two major tribes. Their language is unconfirmed.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Wathawurrung". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Wathawurrung at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  3. Victorian placenames
  4. "About the profile areas, Moorabool Shire Council" . Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  5. "Geelong City". City of Greater Geelong website. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  6. Norman Houghton - Norman, Houghton. "The Story of Geelong". Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  7. Blake, L. J. (1973). Vision and Realisation: A Centenary History of State Education in Victoria (Volume 2). Education Department of Victoria. p. 1008.
  8. National Library of Australia. "Geelong Advertiser 14 Dec 1918 VICTORIAN TOWN NAMES" . Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  9. "About the profile areas, Moorabool Shire Council" . Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  10. Clark, Ian; Heydon, Toby (2011). "Historical Information: Werribee River". VICNAMES. Government of Victoria. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2018 via Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.