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 the northern coastal area of New South Wales (Australia), located approximately 550 kilometres (340 mi) northeast of Sydney, an area that includes the Bundjalung National Park.

Bundjalung people all share descent from ancestors who once spoke as their first, preferred language one or more of the dialects of the Lower-Richmond branch of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung language family.

The Arakwal of Byron Bay count themselves as one of the Bundjalung peoples.[1]


Bundjalung is a Pama-Nyungan language. It has two unusual features: certain syllables are strongly stressed while others are "slurred", and it classifies gender into four classes: (a) masculine (b) feminine (c) arboreal and (d) neuter.[6]


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

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.[7]

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 didgeridoos about 30 cm long) 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]


Internationally renowned artist Digby Moran (c.1948–13 January 2020) was a Bundjalung man. His work was frequently exhibited in Germany, and his art is held in regional galleries in Tweed, Lismore and Grafton regional galleries. He was born in Ballina and raised on Cabbage Tree Island, and coastal themes predominated in his artwork. He developed a diamond shape motif in his work, inspired by Bundjalung hunting clubs. He won international awards, and the exhibition of his work in Grafton was the most-visited exhibition ever at the gallery.[8]

Author Melissa Lucashenko is a Bundjalung woman, who won a Walkley Award for non-fiction in 2013 and Australia's most prestigious book award, the Miles Franklin Award, in 2019, the latter for her novel Too Much Lip.

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")
  • Bandjalang, Bandjalong
  • Budulung
  • Buggul
  • Bundela, Bundel
  • Bunjellung
  • Paikalyung, Paikalyug
  • Watchee
  • Widje (clan or clans at Evans Head)
  • Woomargou

Source: Tindale 1974, p. 191

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Bunjalung of Byron Bay 2001.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Sharpe 1994.
  3. ^ a b Bandjalang at Ethnologue (20th ed., 2017)
  4. ^ a b c d Tindale 1974, p. 191.
  5. ^ Hoff 2006.
  6. ^ Sharpe 1993, p. 76.
  7. ^ Mathews 1900, pp. 67–73,67.
  8. ^ Farrow-Smith 2020.


External links[edit]