The Wandjira were an indigenous Australian people of the Northern Territory.


Their Wanyjirra language,[1] now moribund, is one of the Ngumbin languages.[2] Tasaku Tsunoda made some early recordings of their speech, and these, together with fieldwork materials she gathered as a postgraduate student of Nick Evans, were the basis of a full descriptive published by Chikako Senge in 2015.[3] Many Wandkora also spoke the closely related Standard Eastern Gurindji and conversations between these groups would often involve code-switching.[4]


Tindale's estimate of Wandjira lands has them occupying roughly 5,300 square miles (14,000 km2), stretching northwards from the Inverway Station to the margins of the plateau situated close to Mount Rose; Their western reaches ran as far as Kulungulan on the border shared with Western Australia. Eastwards they were present as far as approximately Mount Farquharson, while their southern extension ran into hard sandstone country. They were present also at Munbu on the upper Negri River.[5]

History of contact

The surviving remnants of the Wandjira now live mainly around Inverway Station, and also Birrindudu Station on the edge of the Tanami Desert.[5]

Alternative names

Some words

  • cudibah. (whiteman)[7]


  1. Tindale cites the Berndts' 1946 paper as bearing on the Wandjira. In that review article, the Berndts only appear to name a group called the Wandshora, which they transcribe phonetically as Wandshәra.[6]


  1. McGregor 2013, p. 31.
  2. McGregor 2013, p. 44.
  3. Senge 2015.
  4. McConvell 1988, pp. 113ff..
  5. Tindale 1974, p. 237.
  6. Berndt & Berndt 1946, pp. 72, n.17; 75, n.39.
  7. Terry 1926, p. 194.


  • Berndt, Ronald; Berndt, Catherine (September 1946). "The Eternal Ones of the Dream". Oceania. 17 (1): 67–78. JSTOR 40328097.
  • McConvell, Patrick (1988). "Mix-Im-Up: Aboriginal codeswitching, old and new". In Heller, Monica (ed.). Codeswitching: Anthropological and Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 97–149. ISBN 978-3-110-84961-5.
  • McGregor, William B. (2013). The Languages of the Kimberley, Western Australia. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-39602-3.
  • Senge, Chikako (2015). A Grammar of Wanyjirra, a language of Northern Australia (PDF). Australian National University.
  • Terry, Michael (November 1926). "A Surgical Operation as Performed by the Boonarra Tribe of Northern Australia, and a Short Vocabulary of the Languages of Some North Australian Tribes". Man. 26: 193–194. JSTOR 2787434.
  • Tindale, Norman Barnett (1974). "Wandjira (NT)". Aboriginal Tribes of Australia: Their Terrain, Environmental Controls, Distribution, Limits, and Proper Names. Australian National University.
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