Aboriginal Languages

Most Aboriginal people over the age of 30 in the Kimberley, Pilbara and desert regions of WA speak one or more traditional languages, as well as varieties of Aboriginal English and Kriol. Throughout most of the state, Aboriginal people, except possibly the elderly, speak English.

The South West

At the time of colonisation, the Noongar language was spoken in the south-west of WA, including the Perth region. These days, few fluent speakers of this language remain.

The Murchison & Gascoyne

The main surviving language of the Murchison and Gascoyne area (inland from the central-west coast), is Wadjari, originally spoken in the eastern Murchison area. Although there were a number of languages spoken in this region, the people all referred to themselves as Yamatji, and these days they call the language they speak the Yamatji language.

The Pilbara

Few speakers remain of the languages of the southern and western Pilbara region, which spread from the Gascoyne to Ashburton Rivers. However, a number of languages are still spoken in the northern and eastern Pilbara. Yindjibarndi is the strongest survivor of the many languages which came together in Roebourne, and is also spoken in Onslow and other Pilbara towns.

The Kimberley

Several Aboriginal languages survive of around 15 different language groups spoken in the Kimberley region.

Western Desert

Dialects of the Western Desert language are spoken in communities across the Nullarbor Plain and in the desert, along the Canning Stock Route north across the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts to the Kimberley, and west to the Hamersley Range and the Murchison goldfields.