Bundjalung people

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Bundjalung people
Aka: Badjalang (Tindale)(Horton)
Bandjalang (SIL)
IBRA 6.1 South Eastern Queensland.png
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′S 152°55′E / 29.250°S 152.917°E / -29.250; 152.917Coordinates: 29°15′S 152°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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Notable Bundjalung people include:luc holmes nrl player

  • Bronwyn Bancroft (born 1958) is an Australian artist, notable for being amongst the first Australian fashion designers invited to show her work in Paris. Born in Tenterfield, New South Wales, and trained in Canberra and Sydney, Bancroft worked as a fashion designer, and is an artist, illustrator, and arts administrator.
  • Troy Cassar-Daley – born at Grafton to an Aboriginal mother and a Maltese-Australian father.[11]
  • Joyce Clague - political activist
  • Ruby Langford Ginibi – author, lecturer in Aboriginal history, culture and politics, whose grandfather "Sam" Anderson, in a game of cricket in 1928 at Lismore, became one of only two Aboriginal cricketers to ever get Sir Donald Bradman out, for a duck.[12]
  • Anthony Mundine – professional boxer and multiple-time world champion. He is also a former New South Wales State of Origin representative footballer who played for St. George Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos in the Australian NRL. Before his move to boxing he was the highest paid player in the NRL.
  • Warren Mundine – an advisor to the current Prime Minister, former National President of the Australian Labor Party and also a Director of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.
  • Mark Olive – also known as the "Black Olive" & "Bush food crusader", a Wollongong born chef who trained in Europe, with over twenty years cooking experience, and he has his own pay TV indigenous cooking show, The Outback Cafe and is also the author of cookbooks such as Olive's Outback Cafe: A Taste of Australia.
  • Johnny Jarrett (Patten) – former Australian Bantamweight boxing champion (1958 - 1962).
  • Wes Patten – actor, television host, and former NRL player with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, St.George Dragons, Balmain Tigers and Gold Coast Chargers. Roles in television and film include playing opposite Cate Blanchett in Heartland (1994) and Hugo Weaving in Dirt Water Dynasty (1988). Other roles include stints on A Country Practice, Wills & Burke, and G.P.
  • Albert Torrens – a former international rugby league footballer who played for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Northern Eagles and St. George Illawarra Dragons in the Australian NRL and for the Huddersfield Giants in the European Super League.

Alternative names[edit]

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
  • Badjelang. (paidjal/badjal means "man")
  • Budulung
  • Buggul
  • Paikalyung, Paikalyug
  • Bandjalang, Bandjalong
  • Bunjellung
  • Bundela, Bundel
  • Widje. (clan or clans at Evans Head)
  • Watchee
  • Woomargou[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Bunjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) Indigenous Land.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sharpe 1994.
  3. ^ a b Bandjalang at Ethnologue (20th ed., 2017)
  4. ^ a b c d e 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.


External links[edit]