Tatungalung people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Tatungalung were an indigenous Australian tribe of the state of Victoria. They are often, together with the Bratauolung, Braiakaulung, Brabiralung and Krauatungalung classified as belonging to one nation, the Gunai/Kurnai, though this typology has been thought, by Norman Tindale for one, to be an artificial construct.


The word tatung meant 'south', referring to the fact that they were the southernmost of the Gippsland peoples.


The Tatungalung appear to have spoken a dialect that was mutually intelligible with those spoken by the Brataualung and the Braiakaulung, and collectively called Nulit.[1] Robert M. W. Dixon however considers Nulit itself to be a dialect of Muk-thang.[2]


Their traditional lands covered an estimated 700 sq. miles, running along the coast of Ninety Mile Beach and about Lakes Victoria and Wellington, including a group established on Raymond Island, at King Lake. Their frontiers were at Lakes Entrance to the mouth of Merriman Creek in the west.

Social organization[edit]

According to Friedrich Hagenauer the Tatungalung were divided into 4 hordes, though A. W. Howitt adds a fifth.[3] Tindale suspected that one of the names associated with the tribe, Boul-boul, might refer to one of these hordes.

The clan or horde that lived on Raymond Island, which Howitt says was an enclave - the mainland around the shores of King Lake being Brabiralung ground - was known as the Biinjil-baur, and they asserted a right to exclusive ownership of all of the swans' eggs laid on the site.[1] This notice has drawn the attention of scholars because the concept of property, widely thought absent, aappears here to have been asserted as an exclusive title.[4]


A tradition relates that, in revenge for killing one of their men, the Brabiralung set up an ambush, using a hill overlooking the island to secretly make preparations.[5]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Tatoongolong.
  • Tatunga.
  • Tirthung.
  • Tatung.
  • Tirtalawakani.
  • Boul-boul
  • Nulit (this name was also used of the Bratauolung, and refers to the dialect or language the two tribes spoke.[3]



  1. ^ a b Howitt 1904, p. 73.
  2. ^ Dixon 2002, pp. xxxv, 44.
  3. ^ a b Tindale 1974, p. 207.
  4. ^ Keen 2010, p. 51.
  5. ^ Bulmer 1999, pp. 24–25.


  • Bulmer, John (1999). Campbell, Alastair Heriot; Vanderwal, Ron (eds.). John Bulmer's recollections of Victorian Aboriginal life, 1855-1908. Museum Victoria. ISBN 978-0-957-74712-8.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47378-1.
  • Howitt, Alfred William (1904). The native tribes of south-east Australia (PDF). Macmillan.
  • Keen, Ian (2010). "The interpretation of Aboriginal 'property' on the Australian colonial frontier". In Keen, Ian (ed.). Indigenous Participation in Australian Economies: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives. Australian National University. pp. 41–62. ISBN 978-1-921-66687-2.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Tatungalung (VIC)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.