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Jagera people

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Watson in the 1940s collated historical information to create his Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland – he groups the Brisbane languages under the umbrella term of Yugarabul.
Watson in the 1940s collated historical information to create his Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland[1] – he groups the Brisbane languages under the umbrella term of Yugarabul.

The Jagera people, also written Yagarr, Yaggera, Yuggera, and other variants, are the Australian First Nations people who speak the Yuggera language. The Yuggera language which encompasses a number of dialects was spoken by the traditional owners of the territories from Moreton Bay to the base of the Toowoomba ranges including the city of Brisbane. There is debate over whether the Turrbal people of the Brisbane area should be considered a subgroup of the Jagera or a separate people.[2][3]


Yuggera belongs to the Durubalic subgroup of the Pama–Nyungan languages, and is sometimes treated as the language of the Brisbane area.[4] However, Turrbal is also sometimes used as the name for the Brisbane language or the Yugerra dialects of the Brisbane area.[5][6][7][8] The Australian English word "yakka" (loosely meaning "work", as in "hard yakka") came from the Yuggera language (yaga, "strenuous work").[9]

According to Tom Petrie, who provided several pages listing words and placenames in the languages spoken in the area of Brisbane (Mianjin),[10] yaggaar was the local word for "no".[11] (The word for "no" in Aboriginal languages was often an ethnonymic marker of difference between Aboriginal groups.)[11] Mianjin is a Yuggera/Turrbal word meaning "spike place" or "tulip wood". It was used for the area now covered by Gardens Point and the Brisbane central business district.[12][10] The Yuggera word for the Aboriginal people of Brisbane was Miguntyun.[13]

Ludwig Leichhardt recorded the name for the land holding area from Gardens Point to Breakfast Creek as Megandsin or Makandschin.[14]


The precise territorial boundaries of the Jagera are not clear.[15][16] Norman Tindale defined the "Jagara" (Jagera) lands as encompassing the area around the Brisbane River from the Cleveland district west to the dividing range and north to the vicinity of Esk.[5] According to Watson, the "Yugarabul tribe" (Jagera) inhabited the territories from Moreton Bay to Toowoomba to the west, extending almost to Nanango in the northwest.[17] He also describes their territory as "the basins of the Brisbane and Caboolture Rivers" and states that a sub-group of the Yugarabul was the "Turaubul" (Turrbal) people whose territory included the site of the modern city of Brisbane.[2] According to Steele, the territory of the "Yuggera people" (Jagera) extended south to the Logan river, north almost to Caboolture and west to Toowoomba.[18] However, he considered that Turrbal speakers covered much of Brisbane from the Logan river to the Pine river.[19] Ford and Blake state that the Jagera and Turrbal were distinct peoples, the Jagera generally living south of the Brisbane river and the Turbal mostly living north.[16]

At the time of European settlement, the Jagera people comprised local groups each of which had a specific territory.[2] The European names for the locality groups, sometimes called clans, of the Brisbane area include the Coorpooroo, Chepara, Yerongpan and others.[19][17]

Jagera territory adjoined that of the Wakka Wakka and the Gubbi Gubbi (also written Kabi Kabi or Gabi Gabi) to the north, and that of the Yugambeh and the Bundjalung people to the south.[20]

Native title[edit]

Descendants of both the Jagera (Yugara) and the Turrbal consider themselves traditional custodians of the land over which much of Brisbane is built.[21] Native claim applications were lodged respectively by the Turrbal in 1998 and the Jagera in 2011, and the two separate claims were combined in 2013.[21] In January 2015, Justice Christopher Jessup for the Federal Court of Australia, in Sandy on behalf of the Yugara People v State of Queensland (No 2),[22] rejected the claims on the basis that under traditional law, which was now lacking, none of the claimants would be considered to have such a land right.[21] The decision was appealed before the full bench of the Federal Court, which on 25 July 2017 rejected both appeals, confirming the 2015 decision that native title does not exist in the greater Brisbane area.[23][24][25][26]

An Indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) was signed over the site of the historic 1843 Battle of One Tree Hill, now known as Table Top Mountain, when the warrior Multuggerah from the Ugarapul tribe and a group of men ambushed and won a battle with settlers in the area. The ILUA was signed between Toowoomba City Council and a body representing the "Jagera, Yuggera and Ugarapul people" as the traditional owners of the area, in 2008 (Ilua 2008).

Variant names and spellings[edit]

  • Jagarabal (jagara = no)
  • Jergarbal
  • Yagara
  • Yaggara
  • Yuggara
  • Yugg-ari
  • Yackarabul
  • Turubul (language name)
  • Turrbal
  • Turrubul
  • Turrubal
  • Terabul
  • Torbul
  • Turibul
  • Yerongban
  • Yeronghan
  • Ninghi
  • Yerongpan[5]
  • Biriin[27]

Place names[edit]

Traditional lands of Aboriginal Australians around Brisbane

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Bunjoey was the original informant for the stories in Edin Bell's Legends of the Coochin Valley. Bell identified the local tribe around Wallaces Creek, as Ugarapul, a form that has not gained acceptance in later Aboriginal studies.


  1. ^ Watson 1944.
  2. ^ a b c Watson 1944, pp. 4–5.
  3. ^ AustLII 2015, paragraphs 36-37, 40-43.
  4. ^ Dixon, Ramson & Thomas 2006, p. 42.
  5. ^ a b c Tindale 1974, p. 169.
  6. ^ Steele 2015, pp. 85, 121.
  7. ^ Dixon 2002, p. xxxiv.
  8. ^ Bowern 2013, pp. lix, lxiv.
  9. ^ Dixon, Ramson & Thomas 2006, p. 209.
  10. ^ a b Petrie & Petrie 1904, pp. 315–319.
  11. ^ a b Petrie & Petrie 1904, p. 319.
  12. ^ Steele 2015, pp. 122, 129.
  13. ^ The Queenslander 1934, p. 13.
  14. ^ Jefferies 2013, p. 640.
  15. ^ AustLII 2015, paragraphs 35-37.
  16. ^ a b Ford & Blake 1998, p. 11.
  17. ^ a b Crump 2015.
  18. ^ Steele 2015, p. xiv.
  19. ^ a b Steele 2015, p. 121.
  20. ^ Steele 2015, p. 46, 85.
  21. ^ a b c Riga 2015.
  22. ^ a b AustLII 2015.
  23. ^ Singleton & Testro 2017.
  24. ^ CCW 2017.
  25. ^ Carseldine 2017.
  26. ^ NNTT 2015.
  27. ^ Tindale 1974, pp. 169, 171.
  28. ^ Rolls & Johnson 2010, p. 38.
  29. ^ Russo 2015, p. 215.
  30. ^ a b Queensland Govt 2017.
  31. ^ Morelli 2017.
  32. ^ a b Zhou 2017.
  33. ^ ABC News 2017.
  34. ^ The Courier-Mail 1947, p. 2.
  35. ^ The Telegraph 1936, p. 11.