Yandruwandha people

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The Yandruwandha, alternatively known as Jandruwanta,[1] are an Indigenous Australian tribe living in the Lakes area of South Australia south of Cooper Creek and west of the Wangkumara people.


Yandruwandha is a generic term referring to a number of dialects, Yawarrawarrka, Nhirppi, Matja, Parlpamardramardra, Ngananhina, Ngapardajdhirri and Ngurawola.[2] It belongs to the Karna group of Karnic languages The best known version is that recorded by Gavan Breen from informants in Innamincka.


The Yandruwandha ranged over an estimated 10,900 sq. miles of their tribal lands, which extended, according to Norman Tindale, from an area south of Cooper Creek, namely from Innamincka to Carraweena. This area also included Strzelecki Creek.[1]


The Yandruwandha played a significant role in key moments of the Burke and Wills expedition. Oral lore conserved among them, according to a descendant, Aaron Paterson, has it that William John Wills, who recorded some of their words, made a good impression on the elders, who provided him with shelter in a walpa[3] shared with an as yet uninitiated youth.[4] While Burke and Will died, the only man to survive, John King, did so because he found sanctuary with the Yandruwandha, among whom he was eventually found by Edwin Welch, a surveyor with Alfred William Howitt, who had been dispatched to find the missing explorers.[5] Many fell victims to the 1919 flu pandemic.[6]


The practiced male circumcision.[1]

Native title[edit]

The Yandruwandha Yawarrawarrka filed a petition to have their land rights recognized in 1988. In 2015, their native title was determined by a Federal Court over some 40,000 square kilometres of the outback, covering pastoral leases, and including Coongie Lakes National Park, the Innamincka Regional Reserve and the Strzelecki Regional Reserve.[7]

Notable people[edit]

  • Murtee Johnny (born c.1888-died Adelaide 1979) was the last member of the Yandruwanda of the Strzelecki Track, many of whom died in the flu pandemic that spread through the area in 1919. He was an accomplished stockman, working on the Mount Hopeless in the Flinders Ranges.[6]

Alternative names[edit]

  • Yandruwunta, Yandruwonta, Yantruwanta, Jendruwonta, Yandra Wandra.
  • Yandrawontha, Yanderawantha, Yantowannta, Jandruwalda.
  • Yanduwulda.
  • Endawarra.
  • Innamouka (loose transcription of the toponym Innamincka).[1]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Tindale 1974.
  2. ^ Breen 2015b, p. 1.
  3. ^ Breen 2015b, p. 110.
  4. ^ Paterson 2013, pp. xii–xvi.
  5. ^ Phoenix 2011, p. xx.
  6. ^ a b Hercus 1980, p. 27.
  7. ^ Gage 2015.