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

Wonnarua people
aka: Wonnuaruah/Wonarua/Wannerawa[1]
IBRA 6.1 Sydney Basin.png
Hunter Region bioregion
Language family:Pama–Nyungan
Language branch:Yuin–Kuric
Language group:(??)
Group dialects:Hunter River and Lake Macquarrie Language (Awabakal-Wanarruwa)[2]
Area (approx. 5,200 sq. km)
Bioregion:Hunter Region
Location:Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Coordinates:32°35′S 150°50′E / 32.583°S 150.833°E / -32.583; 150.833Coordinates: 32°35′S 150°50′E / 32.583°S 150.833°E / -32.583; 150.833[1]
Other geological:Yengo National Park[6]
Notable individuals
Jackey Jackey

The Wonnarua people, otherwise written Wanarruwa, are a group of indigenous people of Australia united by strong ties of kinship, and who survived in family groups or clans scattered along the inland area of what is now known as the Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. Their creation spirit is Baiami, also known as Koin, the creator of all things and the Keeper of the Valley.[8]


The language of the Wonnarua was a dialect of the language spoken in the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie region. The original name of the language, if it ever existed, is not known. However, linguists, in order to group these closely related dialects together, use the term "language of the Hunter River/Lake Macquarie" (HRLM). The term denotes the geographical location of the closely related dialects; it is not the name of the language group. The area extends from north of the Hawkesbury–MacDonald River (HMR) language and south of the Lower North Coast language (LNC). Exact geographical locations of the language groups are, at this stage, speculative.[9]


Their traditional territory, estimated to comprise an area extending over 2,000 sq. miles, spreads from the Upper Hunter River, above Maitland west to the Great Dividing Range, towards Wollombi.[1] The Wonnarua were bounded to the south by the Awabakal, to the north–west by the Nganyaywana, to the north–east by the Awabakal, and to the south–east by the Worimi peoples. The Wonnarua also had trade and ceremonial links with the Kamilaroi people.


The Wonnarua, at the beginning of contact with whites, are estimated to have numbered around 500.[10]

The Gringai were a clan of the Worimi,[5] whose traditional lands are in the Dungog area.[11]

Native title[edit]

On behalf of the Plains Clans of the Wonnarua People, Scott Franks and Anor put in a native title claim on 19 August 2013.[12] The document claimed rights over an area of roughly 9,500 square kilometres (3,700 sq mi), embracing the catchment zone within the Great Dividing Range, the Liverpool Range, and the major rivers coming out of the Barringtons, under Yango. The claim included Singleton, Muswellbrook, Dungog, Maitland, and the shire council lands of the Upper Hunter.[13] The legitimacy of the claim was recognised in January 2015 and duly registered in order to have a Federal Court deliberate over the claim and to make a determination.[14][4]

Notable Wonnarua people[edit]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Wonnuaruah/Wonarua.
  • Wannerawa.
  • Wonnah.[1]




  • "EDITORIAL: Wonnarua native title claim". The Newcastle Herald. 16 January 2015.
  • Franks, Scott; Lester, Robert John (19 August 2013). "Scott Franks and Anor on behalf of the Plains Clans of the Wonnarua People". National Native Title Tribunal.
  • Frick, Erin (6 March 2014). "Heritage listing for NSW Aboriginal cave". Australian Geographic.
  • Hobson, John Robert (2010). Re-awakening Languages: Theory and Practice in the Revitalisation of Australia's Indigenous Languages. Sydney University Press. ISBN 978-1-920-89955-4.
  • Lissarrague, Amanda (2006). "Wonnarua (NSW)" (PDF). A salvage grammar and wordlist of the language from the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie. Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative. ISBN 0-9775351-0-X.
  • "Maitland History: Wonnarua People". Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  • McCarthy, Joanne (16 January 2015). "Native Title Game-changer for Coal". The Newcastle Herald.
  • "Meet the Mob: Scott Franks". ABC News, Newcastle. 12 June 2015.
  • Miller, Robert (1887). "No. 188: The Hunter River" (PDF). In Curr, Edward. The Australian race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia, and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. Volume 3. Melbourne: Government Printer. pp. 352–357.
  • "Strategic Plan 2009–2019" (PDF). Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Wonnarua (NSW)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University Press. ISBN 978-0-708-10741-6.
  • Wafer, Jim; Lissarrague, Amanda (2008). A Handbook of Aboriginal Languages of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Nambucca Heads, NSW: Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative. ISBN 978-0-977-53518-7.
  • Wafer, Jim (2014). "Placenames as a guide to language distribution in the Upper Hunter, and the landnám problem in Australian toponomastics". In Clark, Ian D.; Hercus, Luise; Kostanski, Laura. Indigenous and Minority Placenames Australian and International Perspectives. Australilan National University. pp. 57–82. JSTOR j.ctt13www5z.7.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]