Aboriginal Language Revival in the Condamine River Catchment

For the first time in the Condamine River catchment significant research has been undertaken to record and share Aboriginal language of the area.

The Condamine Alliance Languages Project is an initiative of Condamine Alliance through funding under the Australian Government’s Indigenous Language Support Program (formerly Maintenance of Indigenous Languages and Records). The project aims to support language revival in communities along the Condamine River.

The specialised project researched the history, significant sites and languages of the traditional custodians of the catchment and for the first time undertook to record and share the Aboriginal languages of the region.

The Condamine Catchment extends from its source near Killarney along the Condamine River and creeks system to Chinchilla. There are six Traditional Owner groups and nine main language groups.

Traditional owner groups:

  • Barrunggam
  • Bigambul
  • Giabul
  • Githabul
  • Kambuwal
  • Jarowai

Traditional language groups:

  • Barrunggam
  • Bigambul
  • Giabul
  • Githabul
  • Gambuwal
  • Jarowai
  • Keinjan
  • Kogai
  • Manadandanji

Traditional Custodian Groups

Aboriginal languages are rich oral-based traditions and at times very little information was written down. The Condamine Alliance Aboriginal Languages Project has explored the language history through available research and a variety of language workshops to assist collecting, recording and documentation of the traditional languages of the River.

The workshops drew together participants from communities along the catchment as well as community members living outside the area who still retained their cultural and familial links back to country.

The project revealed a strong focus on ‘caring for country’ and the traditional knowledge of managing the natural resources of the Condamine River. In addition to mapping the language of the River, the project also identified sites of cultural significance and Traditional Indigenous Knowledge.

For many participants this was the first opportunity to sit down and talk about traditional languages as only minimal research had previously taken place.

The landscape of Aboriginal languages is changing constantly but there are strong cultural links in the catchment area. The project helped connect people with a shared desire to awaken languages along the River communities.

Sustaining history and language for the next generation is vital. The project has expanded common understanding and produced significant information on the nine language groups. Traditional owner and language group profiles, vocabulary and word lists, basic teaching resources and Traditional Indigenous Knowledge have all been recorded.

It is hoped that this project may serve as a catalyst for further language revival activities in the communities along the Condamine and that the creation of wordlists and other language materials may serve as a ‘trigger’ for social memories of language knowledge.

The next stage of this project will see the release of information and resources in consultation with community members.

For more information or resources visit www.condaminealliance.com.au/aboriginal-languages-project