Over 200 distinct Aboriginal language groups

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are roughly divided into 200-250 distinct language groups speaking around 700 dialects. A dialect is a particular variety or branch of a specific language. For example, Wardandi is a dialect of the Noongar Nation in the South West of Western Australia.

The term ‘Aborigine’ is actually a European construct used from early contact time to describe the Indigenous inhabitants under a generic term without recognising their cultural diversity. People vary from those living in remote communities to urban groups, rural and regional areas. Diversity also extends to all aspects of life including cultural beliefs, cultural ceremonies, creation stories and history. Diversity is an integral part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

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Bardi Jawi Country

Bardi people, also spelt Baada or Baardi are ethnically close to the Jawi people of the Jawi islands and are often referred to as Bardi Jawi collectively. Bardi Jawi country encompasses about 3780 km2 on the Cape Leveque peninsula.


Baiyungu Country

The Baiyungu are the traditional people of the Gascoyne region.  Baiyungu country comprises some 10,000 km2 on the Lower Lyndon and Minilya River, extending south west to Quobba.


Ngarluma Country

The Ngarluma are the traditional people of the western Pilbara, coastal dwellers of the area around Roebourne and Karratha.  The Ngarluma people have a four group skin system; Banaga, Balyirri, Burungu and Garimarra.


Whudjuk Country

Whadjuk, alternatively Witjari, are the traditional people of the Perth region and formed part of the Noongar nation language group, with their own distinctive dialect. Whadjuk country comprises some 6,700km2.
Coastal dwelling Whadjuk have an oral history telling of the separation of Wadjemup (Rottnest) from the mainland, which is known to have occurred around 10,000 BC.


Wadandi Country

Wadandi, also spelt Wardandi are one of fourteen language groups of the Noongar nation peoples.
Wadandi traditional country covers an estimated 4,700 km2. Predominantly coastal, it encompasses Busselton and the areas from Bunbury to Cape Leeuwin and Geographe Bay.


Jabirr Jabirr Country

Jabirr Jabirr country covers some 2,100 km2 on the western side of the Dampier Peninsula. From the coastal area of Sandy Point at Beagle Bay, their territory went south as far as Cape Bertholet and then inland about 50 kilometres

Karajarri Country

Karajarri stretches from Eighty Mile Beach to just south of Roebuck Bay and inland into the Great Sandy Desert. This land encompasses both jurarr (coastal areas) and pirra (inland areas). The pristine coastal region contains limestone cliffs, beaches, tidal creeks, bays, reefs and seagrass beds.

Nyul Nyul Country

Nyul Nyul country encompasses some 1,300 km2 to the north of the Dampier Peninsula incorporating land and sea country that includes delicate coastal habitats, monsoon vine thickets, important cultural sites and inland wetlands and springs.


From the Hamersley Range, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It is the traditional language of the Banjima people. The name has also been spelled Bandjima, Banjima, Banyjima, Paanjima, Pandjima, Panjima, Panjtjima, and Panytyima.


The Wajarri country, also spelt Wadjari, Wadjarri, Watjarri encompasses an estimated 91,000 km2. Watjarri language is part of the Kartu group of languages. Steps are being made to preserve the language for future generations.


Yinggarda country extends from the northern coast of Shark Bay between the Gascoyne and Wooramel rivers, inland to Gascoyne Junction. Yinggarda is a fully developed language with a vocabulary of many thousands of words and complex grammar.


Yindjibarndi people traditionally lived in the area near the town of Roebourne. It is around the area of the Fortescue River. In 2004 there were estimated to be between six and seven hundred speakers of the Yindjibarndi language.


Kariyarra country spans an area from Port Hedland west to the Sherlock River and south to the Yule River and is part of the Pama-Nyungan language family; a large group of languages spread over much of Western Australia.


Ngarla country stretches eastwards along the coast from near the town of Port Hedland and includes the DeGrey and Pardoo stations. As late as the 19th century, the language had hundreds of speakers, today there are very few remain.


Traditionally from the central Great Sandy Desert from Eighty Mile Beach, many Nyangumarta speakers are spread widely over the Pilbara with many any speakers living in the towns of Port Hedland and Marble Bar.


Nyamal country traditionally covers an area east of Port Hedland. It encompasses the towns of Marble Bar and Nullagine. There are at least two variations of the Nyamal language: Punyju Nyamal and Wirtakarri.


The Nyikina people (also spelt Nyigina and Nyikena) come from the lower Fitzroy River area (which they call mardoowarra), an area covering approximately 26,000 km2.