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Yuin people
Aka: Thurga (Tindale)
Dhawa (AIATSIS), Dhu Dhurga (SIL)
IBRA 6.1 South East Corner.png
South east corner bioregion
Language family:Pama–Nyungan
Language branch:Yuin–Kuric
Language group:Yuin
(shared word for man)
(a.k.a. Thurga)
(shared word for no)
Group dialects:
Bioregion:South east corner
Location:South Coast (NSW)
Coordinates:36°30′S 149°45′E / 36.500°S 149.750°E / -36.500; 149.750Coordinates: 36°30′S 149°45′E / 36.500°S 149.750°E / -36.500; 149.750
Notable individuals
Guboo Ted Thomas

The ethnonym Yuin refers to a group of Australian Aboriginal peoples from the South Coast of New South Wales. All Yuin people share in common, ancestors who spoke as their first language, one or more of the Yuin language dialects, including Djiringanj, Thaua, Walbanga, or Wandandian and Dhurga language (from Narooma to Nowra)


The name Yuin ("man") was selected by the early Australian ethnographer A. W. Howitt to denote two distinct tribes of News South Wales, namely the Djiringanj and the Thaua.[1][a] In Howitt's work, the Yuin were divided into northern (Kurial-Yuin) and southern (Gyangal-Yuin) branches.[3]


The country the Yuin ancestors occupied, used, and enjoyed reached across from Cape Howe to the Shoalhaven River and inland to the Great Dividing Range. Their descendants claim rights to be recognized as the traditional owners of the land and water from Merimbula to the southern head of the sea entrance of the Shoalhaven River. The Yuin people consisted of 12 clans at the time of European arrival in the area.[4] Three of the Yuin groups include:[5][6]

  • Walbanga, north of present-day Narooma
  • Murramurang, north of Deua River south of Lake Conjola.
  • Dyiringanj, or Djiringanj, from Narooma, south to Bega and west to the top of the range.


The population before 1788 has been estimated at about 11 000 between Cape Howe and Batemans Bay. The population was reduced to only 600 by the mid nineteenth century due to smallpox epidemics in 1789 and 1830, as well as tribal battles and the spread of venereal disease from whalers.[5]

3. Biamanga alias John/Jack Mumbla/Mumbler b.c. 1858, d. 1919 Sydney (Figure 62), married to Gunaal alias Rosie Carpenter from Roseby Park; children Harry (1885), Edward (1887 Tuross), Percy, Frank, Kate (1900 Annandale) and John (1902 Moruya). Biamanga's mother Elizabeth Turner was the daughter of Ko:ma of Dry (Murrah) River. Biamanga was given the task of Biambun because Merriman had no living children. He was given a Breast plate in 1912 which read "Biamanga, King of Wallaga Lake and Bega District, born Bredbatoura" (Anon 1912). This plate is in a private Australian collection.

The Eurobodalla Shire Council signed a Local Agreement with the Yuin people in 1998. In 2001, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Bega, Eden and Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Councils, the Native Title Holders and the Bega Valley Shire Council.[7]

The Yuin at Twofold Bay near Eden had mutual cooperation with the killer whales of Eden.[8]


King Merriman, Umbarra, with King plate photographed about 1900

The Yuin are considered as the traditional owners of Wallaga Lake land.[5] The former Wallaga Lake National Park is incorporated into Gulaga National Park.[9]

Merriman Island in Wallaga Lake is a sacred place for the Yuin people. On 25 November 1977, it was the first place in New South Wales to be declared an Aboriginal Heritage site by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The island was named after King Merriman, leader of the Yuin, who died in 1904. His Aboriginal name was Umbarra. His wife was Queen Narelle.

Mumbulla Mountain, located in the middle of Bega Valley Shire, was named in November 1973, after Jack Mumbulla, who was a senior man of the Yuin people.[10] Mumbulla Mountain is the central place of significance in Biamanga National Park. Certain areas have been recognised as a ceremonial meeting places for Aboriginal men and women.[11]

Mount Dromedary, recently renamed Gulaga Mountain, in the Gulaga National Park, is described by Aboriginal people as the place of ancestral origin for Yuin people. Gulaga itself symbolises the mother and provides a basis for Aboriginal spiritual identity, for Aboriginal women and men.[11]

On 6 May 2006 the freehold titles to Gulaga and Biamanga National Parks were handed back to the Yuin people by the New South Wales Government. Freehold title of Gulaga National Park will be held in trust for the aboriginal owners by Merrimans and Wagonga Local Aboriginal Lands Councils, while that of Biamanga will be held in trust by Merrimans and Bega Local Aboriginal Lands Councils.[12]

Montague Island is known to the Yuin people as Barranguba. Barranguba is regarded as being the son of Gulaga, along with Najanuga; Barranguba being the oldest son and allowed out to sea, whereas Najanuga had to stay close to his mother.[13]

Alternative names[edit]

The Yuin are also known as: Yuwin, Djiringanj, Dyirringan, Jeringin or Juwin.

Notable Yuin[edit]


  1. ^ "In the early days of white contact there was a compulsion to try and find major units in Australia of the kinds familiar to the people of Europe. Layman recorders were not satisfied to accept the autonomous tribal units that they were in contact with as the largest ones present. Soon several tribes extending along the south coast of New South Wales were treated together as the 'Yuin,' because they were all familiar with the word as meaning 'man.'."[2]



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