The Language from the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie (HRLM)


The Language from the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie (HRLM) was spoken by the people now known as Awabakal, Wonnarua, Kuringgai, and most likely Geawegal. Geawegal and Wonnarua share section names with Darkinyung and Gamilaraay.

Traditional Country

While it is impossible to put precise boundaries on language groups, we can speak generally. This language was spoken from Brisbane Waters in the south to Newcastle in the north, and extending west to Singleton and as far as Muswellbrook. It is likely that there were dialectal differences within such a large region.

Language Details

HRLM belongs to the Pama-Nyungan family of Australia languages. It is one of 35 languages once spoken in the area now known as NSW. HRLM has a rich collection of historical sources, the most important being the grammar and wordlist published by Threlkeld in 1834. During the 1800s Aboriginal peoples across NSW bore the brunt of European invasion, and their languages were an early casualty, with the active suppression of languages and the emergence of English as a common language between the different language groups. HRLM was the first Aboriginal language to be formally taught to a non-Aboriginal person, by Biraban, also known by his English name of John McGill, to the Rev. Lancelot Threlkeld, a missionary at Lake Macquarie, between 1824 and 1850. Biraban’s teachings form the basis of the grammar published by Muurrbay in 2006. Threlkeld called the language by its location name, so we continue this practice.

Biraban’s keen understanding of language structure enabled him to teach his own language to Threlkeld, and to assist with interpreting in court cases involving Aboriginal people. He learnt English whilst working as a servant to Captain M. Gill at the military barracks in Sydney and also served as a tracker of escaped convicts. A more detailed description can be found here

Reverend Threlkeld^

Alternative spellings and names include:
Awaba, Awabagal, Kuringgai, Karikal, Minyowa, Minyowie, Kuri, Wonnuaruah, Wannerawa, Wonarua, Wonnah Kuah, Wonnarua, Wanarruwa, Kayawaykal, Keawekal, Geawagal, Weawe-gal, Garewegal.

Language Outline

HRLM is characterised by having:

Three vowels: i, a and u, each of which can also be pronounced as a longer vowel (although it is not known if vowel length is contrastive) and 13 consonants. The writing system developed for HRLM includes voiceless stops and the palatal pronunciations of the laminal stop and nasal: p, t, tj, k, m, n, ny, ng, r, rr, l, w and y.
A rich system of noun suffixing (tag endings) to mark the grammatical roles of subject, object and agent. Other suffixes indicate instrument, location, movement towards, movement from, cause, via, with, like, for etc.
The pronouns have singular, dual and plural number, nine cases and the singular pronouns also have bound forms.
Verbs have three tenses: present, past and future. Other suffixes convey different meanings, such as permit, want, make, each other, self, lest, for, etc.
Sentences have free word order, although there is a tendency towards agent – object – verb in a transitive sentence, unless there is focus on a non-agent participant.
Language Resources

The main published texts are:
Threlkeld, LE 1834, An Australian Grammar comprehending the principles and natural rules of the language, as spoken by the Aborigines, in the vicinity of Hunter’s River, Lake Macquarie, &c. New South Wales. Sydney: Stephens and Stokes, Herald Office.

Lissarrague, A 2006, A Salvage Grammar of the language from the Hunter River and Lake Macquarie. Nambucca Heads: Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative.

Written examples of the language

Minyaringpi nyakilin?
What are you looking at?

Anipu puwantuwa Patty amuwangkinpa.
This is Patty with me.

Wiya nyura uwanan Mulapinpakulang?
Will you all go to Newcastle?

Minyaring kanpi wiyan?
What do you say?

Minyaynpin wanay?
How many children do you have?

Wanang-pi manan, ani, anuwa?
Which will you take, this one, that one?

Wiya pali uwanan? Wantja? Sydneykulang!
Shall we go? Where? To Sydney!


Bi lingual learning NT petition

tuesday, december 16, 2008

Bi lingual learning NT – Please sign and distribute
Published date: 3/12/08

Petition For Bi-lingual Learning


This petition of citizens from Australia and overseas, both Indigenous
and non-Indigenous, draws the attention of the House to the announcement on October 14th 2008 by the NT Government that from 2009 the ten remaining bilingual programs in the Northern Territory would be effectively closed down.

We believe that:
• The NT Government’s decision is educationally unsound, and that it will
hinder, rather than help, the children’s chances of learning good English. It goes against the strong evidence that using a child’s first language fosters greater cognitive development and proficiency in learning through all curriculum areas.

• The decision is demoralising for Indigenous communities who have put
effort into promoting and developing teaching methodologies that suit
bilingual and bicultural Indigenous children. Our NT bilingual and bicultural programs have provided real jobs, real work and real incentives for Indigenous educators to train and work in these schools.

• The decision will prejudice the survival of Indigenous languages. The use of the child’s first language also fosters pride in the students’ self esteem and Indigenous identity as recognised in the “Little Children are Sacred” Report.

• The decision goes against the recognition by the United Nations of
the right of Indigenous people to provide education in their own languages.

We therefore ask the House to:

Ratify the UN Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in particular to direct the NT Government to comply with Article 14 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Article 14.1:

Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.




Principal Petitioners:
Names: Kathryn McMahon and Yalmay Yunupingu
Address: 58 Tiwi Gardens Road, Tiwi, Darwin. NT 0810

Save our languages (please read and take action)

Save our languages (please read and action)
Published date : 10-11-2008
Indigenous Languages Petition
TO THE HONOURABLE SPEAKER,MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVESThis petition of citizens from Australia and overseas both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous draws to the attention of the House that we are alarmed at the rate of unchecked language loss in Australia. Over 250 vigorous and vibrant languages on record at the time of European arrival in Australia have been reduced to just 17 which are being transmitted naturally to younger members of their communities. Some other languages are still spoken fluently but the vast majority are in varying states of decline and disrepair. There are also vigorous efforts across the country to maintain and revive languages, in some cases to re-introduce them after many decades of non-use.In the debate and activity addressing indigenous disadvantage indigenous languages have been overlooked. Language should be seen as a pathway to education, to healthier and wealthier communities, not as a separate subordinate issue.We therefore ask the House to develop a National Indigenous Languages Policy and a National Indigenous Languages Institute in order to strategically and coherently support the:
Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages (including creoles and Aboriginal Englishes)
Documentation and development of Indigenous Languages
Development of programs at all levels of Education
Development of numeracy and literacy targets in Indigenous Languages
Provision of interpreting and translation services (and training interpreters)
Expansion of employment options that recognise and utilise language knowledge and skills
Development of measures to increase the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in the public domain (including music industry, TV, radio, press, public art and signage).


PRINCIPAL PETITIONERName: Paul Herbert (Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages)To post or fax your vote print this form and post or fax to:Address: 295 King Street Melbourne VICPostcode: 3000Email: Telephone: 03 9602 4700Fax: 03 9602 4770

To vote online click button.,com_joomlapetition/Itemid,/catid,1/func,viewcategory/ If You Have Any Problems Signing the Petition1) The Security-Code May Not Display. Please Try Again.2) There May Be A Typo In Your Email Address OR Security Code. Please Try Again.3) Don’t Receive A Confirmation Email? Please Check Your Junk Mail. If Still Nothing, Please Try Again.4) Anything Else? Please Email Us at:

A little about page admin Kaiyu Moura (Bayles)

Now living in QLD raising her children on their traditional country, gathering food, learning the old art of building shelters, dance and the local language. For the past 20 years with her late Grandmother Maureen Watson and a dance group with 6 of her sisters Kaiyu travelled schools, festivals, events etc sharing the beauty of First Nations Culture through song and dance, stories, art, theatre, nursery rhymes, poetry etc and engaging all ages in different projects that inspire positive change. Also a poet, documentary maker, songwriter, artist, event organiser, media consultant, testing the waters of micro social enterprise by starting her own tshirt and sublimation printing business and with her own label, Kaiyu creates what she calls Freedom Threads.

After building their own home on Tribal Sovereign land, Kaiyu is now homeschooling and teaching the kids about making our own tinctures, learning about bushtucker and mushrooms, growing food, building with aircrete, setting up wind turbines, composting toilets and ram water pumps... Really learning what it truly means to thrive. This is our Group where we share alot of what we do

Kaiyu and the Tribe