Gunggay everyday words

Gunggay (aka Gunggandji & Koo-gun-ji) is a language group centred on the Yarrabah, Cape Grafton region of Far North Queensland. The area includes the Yarrabah Aboriginal community and surrounding areas.

The following word list identifies Gunggay everyday words – some of these words may still be used in Far North Queensland towns and communities.

Note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages were oral-based; there may be several variations in spelling and/or pronunciation across the region due to dialectical differences. The following list should be seen as a guide - check with local language speakers as to the preferred local pronunciation.

Aboriginal sounds

In pronouncing Aboriginal words, there are some sounds which are quite different to English and require practice.

'dh' is different to English - it is pronounced with the tongue at the back of the teeth.

'dj' is similar to English - it can be between ‘j’ and ‘ch’.

'ng' is one sound in Aboriginal languages and is different to the 'n' sound in English - it is closest to the 'ng' sound found in singer.

'ny' is one sound in Aboriginal languages - it is closest to the 'n' sound found in onion.

'rr' is a rolled 'r' sound similar to a Scottish 'r'.

Download Gunggay everyday words  (PDF 233.3 KB)

Ant Wolo Woh-low
Bad Djungun Chung-un
Canoe Badji Bah-jee
Cassowary Kindaja Kin-dah-jar
Ear Bina Bin-ah
Eye Djilli Jill-ee
Fire Boora Boo-rah
Frog Koondang Koon-dung
Good Ngappi Nap-ee
Hand Malla Mar-lah
Kangaroo Kangoola Kang-oo-la
Leg (shin) Bala Ba-la
Mother Moochang Moo-chung
Night Bokar Bo-kah
Possum Marpi Mar-pee
Rain Karpan Kar-pan
Snake (generic) Djamma Jah-ma
Spear Kala Ka-lah
Stingray Woola Woo-lah
Torres Strait pigeon Nyoonkolo Noon-ko-lo
Tree (generic) Tan-do Tan-doh
Wind Yawi Yah-wee

Further details

North Queensland Aboriginal Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre (Cairns)

This language centre looks after languages across North Queensland from Cooktown to Sarina and West to the Gulf.  
Contact Details:
Airport Trading Centre, Shop 8, 446-452 Sheridan Street, North Cairns.  Q. 4870
[PO Box 266 N NORTH CAIRNS.  Q. 4870.]
Ph: (07) 4053 4698 Email. Website:

Yarrabah State School

There is a Gunggandji language program in place at the Yarrabah State School. Contact details: Gribble Street, Yarrabah. Qld. 4871. Ph: (07) 4056 0666 Email: Website:

State Library of Queensland

For further information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages at the State Library of Queensland, please contact:

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

State Library Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages
State Library Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Blog

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