|Region||Queensland, between Tambo and Augathella, Warrego and Langlo rivers.|
Some people might know a few words (2008)
bym – Bidyara
gyy – Gunya
gyf – Gungabula
zmc – Margany
wdu – Wadjigu
zmk – Mandandanyi
gwu – Guwamu
kgl – Kunggari
wdy – Wadjabangayi
xyb – Yandjibara
ygi – Yiningayi
The Bidjara language included numerous dialects, of which Bidjara proper was the last to go extinct. One of these was Gunya (Kunja), spoken over 31,200 km2 (12,188 sq mi), from the Warrego River near Cunnamulla north to Augathella and Burenda Station; west to between Cooladdi and Cheepie; east to Morven and Angellala Creek; at Charle-ville. Fred McKellar was the last known speaker.
Natalie Kwok prepared a report on Gunggari for the Native Title Court in Australia. In it she says:
- Language served as an important identity marker between the Gunggari and Bidjara peoples. Although academically speaking, differences between the two languages have been found to be minor, from an emic point of view such distinctions were meaningful and consequential. Lynette Nixon recounts that when her father used to converse with the Gadd brothers it was understood that, although communication was possible, they each spoke in their own tongue. Ann-Eckermann recounts,
- I was present many times when Bert Mailman (Bidjera) and Aunty Mini Dodd and Aunty Annie Currie would sit outside their houses calling out to one another in language – it was explained to me that Bert spoke Bidjera from Augathella and that the two old ladies were speaking Gunggari – and that, although some of the words were mutually intelligible, Bert really couldn’t understand what the ladies were saying – and it was driving him crazy because the women were making fun of him (pers. comm.)
On September 10, 2016, the Bilby Experience display opened at Charleville in the Railway station. The Greater Bilby is a critically endangered nocturnal desert animal. Possibly one of the most important occurrences of the weekend was local Bidjara peoples Elders, Aunty Dawn Willett and her sister, up from Melbourne, Aunty Jo-Ann Fraser, who extended a 'Welcome to Country'. They also GAVE the traditional knowledge use of their aboriginal dreaming name for the Bilby to the Save the Bilby Fund! Bilbys traditional name is "DHAGNGUU" pronounced (THARG-N-NOO). They expressly gave their permission "for the Bilby club to use this traditional name: the name we know the Bilby by: and you now have permission to use this name. We are giving it to you". Traditional owners have been in this land for thousands of years, and to use this name was truly a special gift. Thankyou very much Elder-Aunties. It is a great shame, that the Bidjara language, like the Bilby (Dhagngnuu) is disappearing.
Australian Bidjara artist and the inaugural Charlie Perkins Scholar, University of Oxford, Christian Bumbarra Thompson employs his Bidjara language in his video work in attempt to redistribute his language into the public realm. His work 'Gamu Mambu' which means 'Blood Song' in Bidjara is a video work of a Dutch Baroque Opera Singer singing in Bidjara. It was included in the 17th Sydney International Biennale ' The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age' and is held in the Museum of Contemporary Art Collection, Sydney. His work 'Desert Slippers' was also included in the National Indigenous Art Triennial 'Culture Warriors' and features Thompson and his Father greeting each other in Bidjara. His work ' Decent Extremist' was also included in the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. The sound work features the words 'Nguwal' meaning bee swarm and 'muna' meaning bee. Thompson voice saying these phrases has manipulated to sound like an actual bee swarm and individual bee, created in collaboration with Carlos Vaquero. His most recent work 'Dhagunyilangu' meaning brother in Bidjara again employs a British male opera singer to interpret the song written in Bidjara and is included in the TarraWarra Biennial in Melbourne and also at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University, Britain in 2012. He has recently collaborated with James Young formally of Nico (Velvet Underground) and recorded his own version of 'Dhagunyilangu' and created a video work of himself singing in Bidjara as part of the Massey University International Art Residency, Wellington, New Zealand. The video work titled 'Refuge' is part of a larger series of works titled 'Eight Limbs' shown at the Te Whare Hera Gallery, Wellington, 2014.
Map of traditional lands of Aboriginal people around Rockhampton and Gladstone, Queensland.]]
- Bidyara at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Gunya at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Gungabula at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Margany at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Wadjigu at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
Mandandanyi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
(Additional references under 'Language codes' in the information box)
- Bidjara at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (see the info box for additional links)
- Breen (1973, 1981), cited in RMW Dixon (2002), Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development, p xxxiii. Some additional names were apparently not distinct dialects.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Southern Maric". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Bibliography of Bidjara language and people resources, at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
- Bibliography of Gayiri people and language resources, at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies