Wotjobaluk people

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The Wotjobaluk were an indigenous Australian people of the state of Victoria.


R. H. Mathews supplied a brief analysis of the Wotjobaluk language, describing what he called the Tyattyalla dialect of the Wotjobaluk around Albacutya[1] He stated that it was characterized by four numbers: the singular, the dual, trial, and plural.[2] There were, in addition, two forms of the trial number for the Ist person, depending on whether the person addressed was included or excluded.[2] Thus one obtains: wutju (a man); "wutju-buliñ" (two men); wutju-kullik (three men); wutju-getyaul (several men).[2][3]


Wotjobaluk territory took in some 4,800 square miles (12,000 km2) inclusive of the Wimmera River, Outlet Creek and the two eutrophic lakes, Hindmarsh and Albacutya. Their southern borders down ran to Dimboola, Kaniva, and Servicetown. Their western frontier lay beyond Yanac, and to the east, as far as Warracknabeal and Lake Korong. Their northern horizon reached Pine Plains.[4]

Social organization[edit]

The Wotjobaluk were divided into 11 hordes:[5]

  1. Lail-buil between Pine Plains and the River Murray.
  2. Jakelbalak between Pine Plains and Lake Albacutya.
  3. Kromelak at Lake Albacutya.
  4. Wanmung Wanmungkur at Lake Hindmarsh.
  5. Kapuu-kapunbara on the River Wimmera, towards Lake Hindmarsh.
  6. Duwinbarap west of River Wimmera.
  7. Jackalbarap west of Duwinbarap.
  8. Jarambiuk at Yarriambiack Creek (so called).
  9. Whitewurudiuk, east of Yarriambiack Creek.
  10. Kerabialbarap south of Mount Arapiles.
  11. Murra-murra-barap in the Grampians.

Hunting lore[edit]

Wotjobaluk hunters told Adolf Hartmann that kangaroos had acute hearing, and could twig the presence of a predator at 150 yards simply by hearing the noise of ankle-bones cracking. Older kangaroos were apt to cast their young from their marsupial pouch if chased by dingos, to distract the dogs from their main prey.[6]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Wotjo-ba-laiuruk (lit. "men and women")
  • Wuttyabullak, Wuttyuballeak
  • Buibatjali (dialect name), buibatyalli
  • Wattyabullak
  • Woychibirik (name for man = wotjo])
  • Woitu-bullar (plural of man as used in Barapa Barapa tribe)
  • Tjatijala (regional name west of Lake Hindmarsh)
  • Tyattyalla, Djadjala
  • Kurm-me-lak (horde name = Gromiluk)
  • Wimmera tribe
  • Gourrbaluk (Gour =Lake Hindmarsh, name used by Wemba-Wemba)
  • Gnallbagootchyourl[7]
  • Ngalbagutja denoting Lake Albucutya, a Wemba-Wemba exonym used of northern hordes of the Wotjobaluk)
  • Malikunditj (northern tribal exonym)
  • Malleegunditch[4]

Some words[edit]

  • wotjo (a man)
  • laiaruk. (a woman)
  • kulkun. (a boy)
  • lanangurk. (a girl).[3]
  • mindyun (a kangaroo)
  • dhallung (male or buck klangaroo)
  • muty (doer or female kangaroo)[8]
  • gal. (dog)[8]
  • winya nyua. (Who is there?)[9]



  1. ^ Mathews 1902, pp. 77ff..
  2. ^ a b c Mathews 1902, p. 72.
  3. ^ a b Mathews 1902, p. 77.
  4. ^ a b Tindale 1974, p. 208.
  5. ^ Hartmann 1878, p. 39.
  6. ^ Hartmann 1878, p. 250.
  7. ^ Stone 1911, p. 435.
  8. ^ a b Mathews 1902, p. 78.
  9. ^ Mathews 1902, p. 81.