Ngalia (Northern Territory)

The Ngaliya (Ngalia) are an indigenous Australian people of the Northern Territory who speak a dialect of the Warlpiri language.[1] They are not to be confused with the Ngalia of the Western Desert.[2]


The traditional lands of the Ngalia, in Norman Tindale 's estimation, extended over some 11,200 square miles (29,000 km2). He places them to the north of Stuart Bluff Range from West Bluff west to Mounts Cockburn and Carey, at mounts Ethel Creek, Farewell, Singleton, Saxby and Doreen (Jarugkanji). Their territory also took in Cockatoo Creek, the Treuer Range, Mount Davenport and Vaughan Springs (Pikilji.).[3]

History of contact

Carl Strehlow was the first outsider to mention the Ngalia.[4][5] Some studies were made of them in August 1931, and in the same month in 1952,[6] at Cockatoo Creek by members of anthropological expeditions from the University of Adelaide. On the first occasion, one Ngalia youth, advancing through the degrees of his initiation, recited a list of over 300 toponyms referring to the totemic sites along his tribe's dreaming tracks which he had visited the year before as part of his education.[7] The landscape names remained unpublished because of the complexities of pinning down the precise location of each place name in this initiatory journey.[4] Charles P. Mountford published a work detailing the 'totemic topography' marked by the travels of the serpent Jarapiri as it slithered across Warlpiri and Ngalia country, to Wimbaraku, situated between Mount Liebig and Haast's Bluff.[8][9]

In the early 1950s their numbers were estimated to be 300-400.[10]

Alternative names

  • Ngalea
  • Ngallia
  • Nanbuda
  • Ngarilia. (typo)
  • Ngali
  • Njalia. (a blunder)
  • Wawilja. ( Warlpiri exonym)
  • Warniaka
  • Waneiga. (exonym)
  • Nambulatji. (Balgo Gugadja exonym)
  • Jalpiri[3]



    1. C43 Ngaliya at the Australian Indigenous Languages Database, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
    2. Tindale 1974, p. 215.
    3. Tindale 1974, p. 233.
    4. Tindale 1974, p. 139.
    5. Strehlow 1910.
    6. Cleland & Tindale 1954, p. 81.
    7. Tindale 1946, p. 77.
    8. Mountford 1968.
    9. Elkin 1969, p. 79.
    10. Abbie & Adey 1953, p. 342.


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