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The Brabiralung are an Indigenous Australian people, one of the five tribes of the Kurnai nation. Their land is occupied by the state of Victoria in the region called Gippsland.


The name Brabiralung is thought to derive from the reduplication of their word for man, namely "bra".[1] Thus doubled, it gives the sense of 'manly.' The suffix -(g)alung denotes 'of' or 'belonging to'.[2]


The Brabiralung language is a dialect of Gunai.


The Brabiralung tribal lands extend over an estimated 2,400 square miles (6,200 km2) of territory embracing Mitchell, Nicholson, and Tambo rivers. Its southern borders run as far south as the area around Bairnsdale and Bruthen.[3] Their western borders run west of the Mitchell to Providence Ponds and along the edges of the Gippsland Lakes.[4]


A Brabiralung man, Tulaba, who later became an important informant for one of the founding fathers of Australian ethnography.[a] He generally stayed clear of missions such as those at Lake Tyers and Ramahyuck missions, the reserves where many remnants of the Victorian tribes were herded into. He encountered A. W. Howitt near Bairnsdale around 1866 when the latter established a hops farm, and was engaged as overseer for the indigenous hops pickers employed there. In his two employers, the MacLeods and Howitt, Tulaba found people who either did not meddle in native ways, or positively encouraged their retention,[5] and Howitt assumed a tribal kinship role in his relationship with Tulaba, overcoming the latter's reluctance to have him observe the initiation rites, and placing them in a (jerra-eil) relationship.[6] )[7] The information Tulaba provided in exchange for food and clothing, using a match-stick system Howitt deployed[b] to delineate genealogical structures, played a seminal function in Howitt's thinking about the aboriginal kinship systems. Tulaba died due to cancer at the Lake Tyers Mission in 1886 and was buried according to Anglican rites.[9]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Brabrolung,
  • Brabrolong
  • Brabirrawulung, Brabriwoolong
  • Wakeruk
  • Bundah Wark Kani (i.e., kanai = man)
  • Bundhul Wark Kani (horde name)
  • Muk-thang (language name),[c]


  1. ^ He was given a nickname, Taenjill', meaning 'incessant talker'. He also had a comfortably familiarity with English[5]
  2. ^ The method had been previously devised by a Methodist minister, Edward Fuller, a Primitive Methodist missionary, for working with the indigenous people on Fraser Island.[8]
  3. ^ kani' here reflects the wordkanai, signifying man[3]


  1. ^ Howitt 1904.
  2. ^ Clark 1996, p. 8.
  3. ^ a b Tindale 1974, p. 203.
  4. ^ Howitt 1904, p. 76.
  5. ^ a b Mulvaney 2005.
  6. ^ Gardner & McConvell 2015, p. 148.
  7. ^ Fison & Howitt 1880, p. 198.
  8. ^ Gardner & McConvell 2015, p. 133.
  9. ^ Gardner & McConvell 2015, pp. 132–155,148ff..