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Wilyakali Lands
New South Wales
Wilyakali Lands is located in New South Wales
Wilyakali Lands
Wilyakali Lands
Nearest town or cityWhite Cliffs
Coordinates31°08′48″S 142°22′53″E / 31.14667°S 142.38139°E / -31.14667; 142.38139Coordinates: 31°08′48″S 142°22′53″E / 31.14667°S 142.38139°E / -31.14667; 142.38139

Wilyakali are an Australian aboriginal tribal group of the Darling River basin in Far West New South Wales, Australia. Their traditional lands centred on the towns of Broken Hill and Silverton and surrounding country. Today the Wilyakali people of Broken Hill are still the main Aboriginal group living in Broken Hill.

Etymology of the name Wilyakali[edit]

Etymologically the word kali appears to be an archaic term meaning 'people' and is incorporated in numerous tribal names of the Darling River valley, including Paakantyi (Creek People),Bula-ali (Hill people) and Thangkakali.[1] In this construction the name would mean the Wilya people.

Wilyakali language[edit]

The Wilyakali language is part of the Paakantyi subgroup family.[1]

The language is considered to be largely extinct from the 1930s with only 23 speakers.[citation needed]


Traditional lands of the Wilyakali, shown as "Wiljali".

Wilyakali traditional lands covered an estimated 8,400 sq. miles from the Barrier Ranges westwards to Olary in South Australia. They encompassed Silverton, Mutooroo and Boolcoomata. To the northwest they reached Mootwingee, and northeast to just south of Sturt Meadows. The tribe apparently moved south in the first half of the 19th century from its earlier domain to resist strongarm cultural pressures from the Ngadjuri to adopt circumcision.[2] The Malyangapa lived on their northern tribal borders, while the Yadliyawara were to their west.

Traditional culture[edit]

Traditional Wilyakali adopted many cultural influences from people to their north and west, such as mura stories.[3] According to A. P. Elkin, its kinship system terms bore some overlap with those of the Wadikali.[4]


Arrival of Europeans[edit]

The ethnographer A. W. Howitt speculated that the Wiljakali belonged to a distinct supra-tribal group he called the Itchumundi nation.[2]

Land corporation[edit]

In the 1980s, the people formed the Wilyakali Aboriginal Corporation.[5] This corporation today runs Poolamacca Station and has also gone on to negotiate mining deals,[6] and Native Title Land Claims[7]

Mutawintji National Park[edit]

The Wilyakali, are also joint managers of the Mutawintji National Park which is the first national park handed back to the traditional owners in NSW.[8]

Areas of cultural significance[edit]

Traditional places of cultural significance include Mutawintji gullies.[9]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Wiljakali
  • Wiljali.
  • Wiljagali.
  • Willoo.
  • Bo-arli, Bulali ('Hill people', from bula, hill.[2]



  1. ^ a b Hercus & Austin 2004, p. 208.
  2. ^ a b c Tindale 1974.
  3. ^ Beckett & Hercus 2009, p. 8.
  4. ^ Elkin 1938, p. 41.
  5. ^ Wilyakali Aboriginal Corporation. at Business profiles.com.
  6. ^ Wilyakali in discussions over Mining Deal with Havilah Resources
  7. ^ NNTR 08/02/2012 SA - Registration decision - SC12/1-1 Wilyakali Native Title Group.
  8. ^ National Indigenous Land and Sea Management Conference 2010.
  9. ^ Madonna Magazine 2004.


  • Beckett, Jeremy; Hercus, Luise (2009). The Two Rainbow Serpents Travelling: Mura Track Narratives from the 'Corner Country'. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-1-921-53693-9.
  • Elkin, A. P. (September 1938). "Kinship in South Australia (Continued)". Oceania. 9 (1): 41–78. JSTOR 40327699.
  • Hercus, Luise; Austin, Peter (2004). "The Yarli Languages". In Bowern, Claire; Koch, Harold. Australian Languages: Classification and the comparative method. John Benjamins Publishing. pp. 207–222. ISBN 978-9-027-29511-8.
  • "Sacred Sites Mutawintji Dreaming Tracks". Madonna Magazine. 30 April 2004. Archived from the original on 30 April 2004.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Wilyakali". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008.