Bundjalung people

Coordinates: 29°15′S 152°55′E / 29.250°S 152.917°E / -29.250; 152.917
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Bundjalung people
Aka: Badjalang (Tindale)(Horton)
Bandjalang (SIL)
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; 152.917
Rivers[4]Lower reaches of
Other geological:Cape Byron
Urban areas:[4]

The Bundjalung people, also spelled Bunjalung, Badjalang and Bandjalang, are Aboriginal Australians who are the original custodians of a region based roughly around the northern coastal area of New South Wales, and a portion of south-east Queensland, with the region stretching as far north as Beaudesert, and stretching south to around Grafton. The region is located approximately 550 kilometres (340 mi) northeast of Sydney, and 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Brisbane, a large 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 range's 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 clan ventured no further than Rappville.[4]

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

According to Norman Tindale, various spellings and other names were used for the Bundjalung people:[4]

  • Badjelang (paidjal/badjal means "man")
  • Bandjalang, Bandjalong
  • Budulung
  • Buggul
  • Bundela, Bundel
  • Bunjellung
  • Paikalyung, Paikalyug
  • Watchee
  • Widje (clan or clans at Evans Head)
  • Woomargou


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 centimetres (12 in) 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]

Native title[edit]

In late April 2021, the Federal Court of Australia convened at Evans Head, where a native title determination was made over 7.2 square kilometres (2.8 sq mi) of land, consisting of 52 separate areas of land. The application had been launched in 1996, and the first determination made in 2013. Included in the land is a bora ring of great cultural significance near Coraki.[8]

Notable people[edit]

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 (25th ed., 2022) closed access
  4. ^ a b c d e Tindale 1974, p. 191.
  5. ^ Hoff 2006.
  6. ^ Sharpe 1993, p. 76.
  7. ^ Mathews 1900, pp. 67–73, 67.
  8. ^ Ross 2021.
  9. ^ TC-D.
  10. ^ "Sharlene Allsopp". Sharlene Allsopp. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  11. ^ Farrow-Smith 2020.


External links[edit]