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The Minyungbal, also written Minjungbal, are an indigenous Australian people of New South Wales who speak the Minyungbal language.


Their ethnonym derives from their word for 'what'(minjung), meaning literally 'people who say 'minjung' for the idea of 'what'.[1][2]


According to Norman Tindale, the Minyungbal held some 600 square miles (1,600 km2) of territory running northwards from Cape Byron as far as Southport. Their inland extension ran to Murwillumbah and Nerang Creek.[3]


The origin story of the Minyungal concerns the legend of three brothers, each of whom established one of the tribes of the area. It tells of the arrival to this part of the eastern Australian coastline by 3 men/mythical culture heroes (Berruġ, Mommóm and Yaburóng)and their wives and children in a canoe.

Long ago, Berruġ together with Mommóm (and) Yabúrong came to this land. They came with their wives and children in a great canoe, from an island across the sea. As they came near the shore, a woman on the land made a song that raised a storm which broke the canoe in pieces, but all the occupants, after battling with the waves, managed to swim ashore. This is how 'the men' the paiġål black race, came to this land.The pieces of the canoe are to be seen to this day. If any one will throw a stone and strike a piece of the canoe, a storm will arise, and the voices of Berrúġ and his boys will be heard calling to one another, amidst the roaring elements. The pieces of the canoe are certain rocks in the sea.

At Ballina, Berrúg looked around and said, nyuġ? and all the paiġål about there say nyuġ to the present day. On the Tweed he said, ġando? (ngahndu)and the Tweed paigål say ġando to the present day. This is how the blacks came to have different dialects. Berrúġ and his brothers came back to the Brunswick River, where he made a fire, and showed the paiġål how to make fire. He taught them their laws about the kippåra, and about marriage and food. After a time, a quarrel arose, and the brothers fought and separated, Mommóm going south, Yaburóng west, and Berrúġ keeping along the coast. This is how the paiġål were separated into tribes.[4]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Minjangbal (heard at Woodenbong in 1938).
  • Minyung
  • Minyowa
  • Gendo. (exonym referring to their language)
  • Gando Minjang
  • Gandowal
  • Ngandowul
  • Cudgingberry. (name of a Minyungbal clan at Cudgen)
  • Coodjingburra.[1][a]

Some words[edit]

  • groman (kangaroo)
  • nogum (tame dog)
  • uragin (wild dog)
  • booyung (father)
  • wyung (mother)
  • duckering (whiteman)[6]


  1. ^ Transcribed by Tindale as 'Kudjangbara.'[5]


  1. ^ a b Tindale 1974, p. 197.
  2. ^ Bray 1887, p. 242.
  3. ^ Tindale 1974, pp. 196–197.
  4. ^ Livingstone 1892, p. 27.
  5. ^ Tindale 1974, p. 79.
  6. ^ Fowler 1887, p. 240.


  • Bray, Joshua (1887). "The Tweed River and Point Dangar" (PDF). In Curr, Edward Micklethwaite (ed.). The Australian race: its origin, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over the continent. Volume 3. Melbourne: J. Ferres. pp. 242–250.
  • Bray, Joshua (21 November 1899). Tweed River. On dialects and place names. Volume 2. Science of Man. pp. 192–194.
  • Bray, Joshua (21 February 1901). Tribal districts and customs. Volume 4. Science of Man. pp. 9–10.
  • Crowley, Terry (1978). The middle Clarence dialects of Bandjalang. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • Fowler, F (1887). "Nerang Creek" (PDF). In Curr, Edward Micklethwaite (ed.). The Australian race: its origin, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over the continent. Volume 3. Melbourne: J. Ferres. pp. 240–241.
  • Greer, Germaine (2014). White Beech: The Rainforest Years. A&C Black. ISBN 978-1-408-84671-1.
  • Livingstone, H. (1892). "Short Grammar and Vocabulary of the Dialect spoken by the Minyung People" (PDF). In Fraser, John (ed.). An Australian language as spoken by the Awabakal, the people of Awaba, or lake Macquarie (near Newcastle, New South Wales) being an account of their language, traditions, and customs. Sydney: C. Potter, Govt. Printer. pp. Appendix 2–27.
  • Nayutah, Jolanda; Finlay, Gail (1988). Minjungbal: The Aborigines and Islanders of the Tweed Valley. North Coast Institute for Aboriginal Community Education. ISBN 978-0-731-62824-7.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Minjungbal (NSW)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.