Language Resources – South East Queensland

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This Information Guide has been developed to support individuals and communities in their research into the Aboriginal languages of south east Queensland. It complements community language information sessions and workshops held in south east Queensland centres during 2011-2017.

While there may be an absence of audio/visual recordings from these languages, some historical language material may exist collected by a range of individuals in the 19th century as well as current community-based language activities.

Note: Please refer to the additional State Library resource documents by location for specific materials relating to other geographical regions:

  • Greater Brisbane
  • Longreach and central west Queensland
  • Mount Isa and north west Queensland
  • Toowoomba and Darling Downs


There are reference materials for most Queensland languages located at The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Canberra – this material may include sound recordings, as well as vocabulary and word lists. AIATSIS has a community access policy and supports communities obtaining copies of materials. AIATSIS has an online catalogue:

AIATSIS Language and People Bibliographies

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra has produced online PDF versions of Language and People Bibliographies for a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The Select Bibliographies provide a list of print materials held by AIATSIS relating to specific languages, including those in south east Queensland.

AIATSIS has recently redeveloped their website [June 2015]; however a full list of available Language and People Bibliographies can be found at: The languages have been grouped under their respective names, e.g.


AIATSIS also maintains AUSTLANG: the Indigenous Languages Database which collates information and research pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Further details: AUSTLANG

State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW)

SLNSW through their Rediscovering Indigenous Languages project has identified historical materials that contain language from Colonial Queensland, including South-East Queensland. The project will digitise language content for community access. Further details:

University of Queensland

The University of Queensland also has a significant collection of language materials within their collections, particularly within the Fryer Library. Further details:

Other materials relating to the Aboriginal languages of South-East Queensland may be held in local or regional collections.

The following list of print resources and other materials are useful starting points for language activities in schools, communities or public libraries – these items are held at State Library of Queensland (SLQ), while further reference materials may be found in local/regional public libraries. Out-of-print materials may not be readily available and held in collecting institutions such as the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (Canberra).

Linguistic/Language Resources in SLQ Collections

This is only a selection from the SLQ Collections – for a comprehensive listing of print and electronic materials [books, journals, manuscripts, videos, images, sound recordings and items from digital collections, etc.] use the OneSearch facility:
Allan, J. and Lane, J. (2001) The language of the Wangerriburra and neighbouring groups in the Yugambeh region. Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture: Beenleigh. P 499.15 all
Barlow, H. (1865) Harriet Barlow Manuscript. [Provides the basis for her work “Aboriginal Vocabularies of Queensland”.] OM91-69.
Bell, E. (1946) Legends of the Coochin Valley. Bunyip Press: Brisbane. J 398.232943 bel
Bell, J. (1994) Dictionary of the Gubbi-Gubbi and Butchulla languages, compiled with the assistance of Amanda Seed. Jeannie Bell: Brisbane. G 499.15321 1994
Bell, J. (2004) Dictionary of the Butchulla language. Korrawinga Aboriginal Corporation: Hervey Bay.G 499.15 2004
Capell, A. (1963) Linguistic Survey of Australia. AIATSIS: Canberra.Q 499.15 cap
Curr, E. M. (1887) The Australian Race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. John Ferres Government Printer: Melbourne. RBF 572.994 cur
Dixon, R. and Blake, B. (Eds) (1981) Handbook of Australian Languages. The Australian National University Press; Canberra. G 499.15 1979
Geytenbeek, B. and H. (1971) Gidabal Grammar and Dictionary. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies: Canberra. Australian Aboriginal Studies No. 43. SER 499.15Hardcastle, T.W. (1930) ‘A Vocabulary of the language of the Aborigines of the Boonah District’. VF 499.15 har
Helon, G. (1994) The English-Goreng Goreng-English dictionary. Gurang Land Council: Bundaberg. G 499.15 1994
Helon, G. (1994) The Goreng Goreng tribe of South-East Queensland: its’ traditional tribal territory, clan divisions and proper names. (Map) Gurang Land Council: Bundaberg. MAPS 840 1998 02000 F
Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic Survey of South-Eastern Queensland. Australian National University: Canberra. J 499.15 HOLHolmer, N. (1988) Notes on Some Queensland Languages. Australian National University: Canberra. J 499.15 HOL
Horton, D. (1994) Aboriginal Australia. (Map) Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies: Canberra. M 804 1999 04700 E
Howitt, A.W. (reprint) (1996) The Native Tribes of South-East Australia. Australian Studies Press: Canberra. [Online access through SLQ]
Jolly, L. (1994) Gureng Gureng: a language program feasibility study. University of Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit: St :Lucia. S 306.089 001
Kite, S. and Wurm, S. (2004) The Duungidjawu language of southeast Queensland: grammar, texts and vocabulary: Pacific Linguistics 553. Pacific Linguistics: Canberra. J 499.15 KIT
Mathew, J. (1910) Two representative tribes of Queensland: with an inquiry concerning the origin of the Australian race. T Fisher Unwin: London.J 306.0899915 MAT
Mathew, J. (1975) ‘On the Kabi dialect of Queensland’. Photocopied from the Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, v. 9, 1880, pp. 312-317 VF 499.15 mat
Meston, A. (undated) Archibald Meston Papers Undated. OM64-17Pittman, R. and Kerr, H. (Eds) (1964) Papers on the Languages of the Australian Aborigines. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies: Canberra. Q 499.15 pap
Ridley, W. (1866) Kamilaroi, Dippil and Turrabul: languages spoken by Australian Aborigines. Government Printer: Sydney. RBJ 499.15 rid
Ridley, W. (1875) 2nd edn, Kamilaroi and other Australian Languages. Government Printers: Sydney.Q 499.15 rid
Sharpe, M. (1995) 2nd edn, Dictionary of Western Bundjalung, including Gidhabal and Tabulam Bundjalung. University of New England: Armidale. Q 499.15 sha
Sharpe, M. (1998) Dictionary of Yugambeh, including neighbouring dialects. Compiled by Margaret Sharpe from various sources: Pacific Linguistics C-139. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. G 499.15 1998
Sharpe, M. (2005) Grammar and texts of the Yugambeh-Bundjalung dialect chain in Eastern Australia. Lincom: Munich. Q 499.15 sha
Tennant-Kelly, C. and University of Queensland (2011) The Caroline Tennant-Kelly ethnographic collection: fieldwork accounts of Aboriginal culture in the 1930s. University of Queensland: St Lucia. (CD-ROM) HCF 305.89915 CAR
Tindale, N. B. (1974) Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits and Proper Names. Australian National University Press: Canberra. Q 994.0049915 tin
Watson, F. J. (1944) “Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland”; supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (Queensland), No. 34, Vol XLVIII. REFJ 499.15 wat
Welsby, T. (1916) “Recollections of the Natives of Moreton Bay together with some of their names and customs of living.” (Typescript) 6758 Box 11392.

General References and Further Reading in SLQ Collections

Aird, M. (1996) I know a few words: Talking about Aboriginal Languages. Keeaira Publications: Southport. G 499.15 1996Adams, R. (2000) Noosa and Gubbi Gubbi: the land, the people, the conflict. Ultreya Publications: Tewantin. G 305.89915 2000Australia (1992) Language and culture: a matter of survival. Report of the Inquiry into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language Maintenance. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Australian Government Printing Service: Canberra. G 499.15 1992
Blake, T. (2001) A dumping ground: the history of the Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve. University of Queensland Press: St Lucia. G 305.89915 2001Brisbane History Group (1990) Brisbane: local, oral and placename history. Brisbane History Group: Brisbane. G 994.31 1990Caboolture Shire (1979) From Spear and Musket 1879-1979, Caboolture Centenary: Stories of the area once controlled by the Caboolture Divisional Board, Shires of Pine Rivers, Caboolture, Kilcoy, Landsborough, Maroochy and City of Redcliffe, Caboolture Shire. Caboolture Shire: Caboolture. Q 994.32 FRO
Cairns, S. (1967) Uncle Willie MacKenzie’s Legends of the Gourndirs. Jacaranda Press: Brisbane. CLG 398.20994 1967

Condamine-Balonne WAMP Indigenous Working Party (1999) Condamine-Balonne Indigenous Report. Q 333.91 con
Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET) (1995) Langwij comes to School. Curriculum Corporation: Canberra. G 372.60899915 1994
Dixon, R. and Ramson, W. (1992) Australian Aboriginal words in English. Oxford University Press: Melbourne. J 499.15 AUSEipper, C. (2007) German Mission to the Aborigines at Moreton Bay, 1841. Archive CD Books. QCFS 266.02343094 2007Feehely, D. (1997) The fire people 1830s-1930s: a history of the Burra, the Aboriginal people of the Eastern Darling Downs. D Feehely: Toowoomba. Q 305.89915 fee
Fisher, R. (Ed.) (1992) “Brisbane: The Aboriginal presence 1824-1860.” In Brisbane History Group. No. 11. Brisbane History Group Inc.: Kelvin Grove. J 994.31 BRI
Ford, R. & Blake, T. (1998) Indigenous peoples of southeast Queensland: an annotated guide to ethno-historical sources. FAIRA: Woolloongabba. G 016.30589915 1998
French, M. (1989) Conflict on the Condamine: Aborigines and the European invasion. Darling Downs Institute Press: Toowoomba. G 994.33 1989
Harman, D. & Henderson, J. (Eds) (1994) Aboriginal Languages in Education. IAD Press: Alice Springs. G 499.1507 1994Hercus, L.; Hodges, F and Simpson, J. (2002) The land is a map: placenames of Indigenous origin in Australia. Pandanus Books: Canberra. Q 919.4003 LAN
Jackson, G. K. (1940) ‘Darling Downs Aborigines’ in McDonald, & Rosbrook Darling Downs Centenary Souvenir 1840-1940. Q 994.33 DAR
Jackson, L.C. (1992) A Preliminary Sourcebook on the Ugarapul People of the Fassifern, South-Eastern Queensland. AIATSIS, Canberra. Q 016.99432 JAC
Jones, S. (1990) A Submerged History: Baroon Aborigines and White Invasion. Jones: Maleny. P 994.0049915 jon
Milne, R. (1993) Dahs and bahs: Aboriginal Placenames of Southern Queensland. Q 910.014 MIL
Nelson, C. (1993) The valley of the Jagera. C Nelson: Gatton. P 994.32 nelPetrie, C. (1992) Tom Petrie’s reminiscences of early Queensland. University of Queensland Press: St Lucia. J 994.32 PETPotter, C. (2002) Conversations on the Condamine: an oral history from the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin. Envirobook: Annandale. G 994.33 2002
Pugsley, H. (1975) Looking back along the Fassifern Valley. H Pugsley: Stanthorpe. J 994.32 PUG
Riethmuller, N. (2006) The Darling Downs Aborigines 1787-2004: genocide and survival. Neil Riethmuller: Toowoomba. P 994.33 RIESlack, J. (1997) Then and now: an Aboriginal history of Gayndah. Gayndah Orange Festival Committee: Gayndah. J 994.32 slaSteele, J. G. (1984) Aboriginal pathways in southeast Queensland and the Richmond River. University of Queensland Press: St Lucia. Q 994.3102 ste
Thorpe, B. (2004) Remembering the forgotten: a history of the Deebing Creek Aboriginal mission in Queensland 1887-1915. Seaview Press: Henley Beach. G 305.89915 2004
Winterbotham, L. (1957) ‘The Gaiarbau Story: Some native customs and beliefs of the Jinibara tribe as well as those of some of their neighbours in south-east Queensland’, Queensland Ethnohistory Transcripts. Archaeology Branch, Department of Aboriginal and Islanders Advancement: Brisbane. Q 994.30049915 SOM

Further details

For further details on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages at SLQ, please contact:

kuril dhagun, State Library of Queensland
Stanley Place, South Brisbane Qld, 4101.
PO Box 3488, South Brisbane Qld, 4101.
t: (07) 3842 9836 f: (07) 3842 9893

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