Bundjalung Words


It is so wonderful that we have access to Bundjalang language and that we can keep it going by using it in our everyday lives with the names of local animals, plants, places, body parts etc

These words below come from a variety of sources of language groups within the Bundjalung nation….mainly Gidhabal,  Wahlubal and Wehlubal. Before whites came, probably only one dialect was called “Bundjalung” (Origingally “Banjalang” around Evans head and Coraki) and there was no name for the whole language. Even though it was very similar each language group had their own dialect and differences.

Bundjalung Nation was hard hit with the invasion of white culture being on the East Coast. Cultural practices were discouraged and in some cases forbidden. Unfortunately in all of this the local dialects became rarer and rarer to now where only a few can speak it fluently.

Our aim on this page is just to get some info out and share some beautiful words from the surrounding areas. Although spellings and pronunciations will differ in the different groups it is a start to sharing more local culture with all those who are interested.

It is a blessing that some dialects have been recorded and in written form where we can access it still now and teach ourselves and our children these wonderful words of our local country and its people.

In many of these words the n sounds more like a gn together.

Byron Bay was originally called CAVANBAH….which means Meeting Place

JINGI WALA – G’day                                                                                                 WITHA BAYAN – how you going?

DALNAN – Calm, Peaceful, motionless                                                                  NYAN – Eh? What?

JAGI –   Ceremony, secret or sacred                                                                       DANDI – Cuddle, embrace

NANYI – Me                                                                                                                 BUGUN – Love

YOL – Listen                                                                                                                BUGAL – Beautiful

BIHBI – Baby                                                                                                               BUHWI BIRA – Breathe

YANINI – Bring                                                                                                           MAHMAN – Father

MAHMI – Mother                                                                                                       BALABALEH – Helpful Person

MIBILAHM – Sweetheart, Lover                                                                             MUGUL – Lazy, Stubborn

BARIBUN – Dream                                                                                                     GALGALIMAY – Music

NARUYN – Glad, Happy                                                                                             NUNUHYN – Feeling love

NAMUN – Wise                                                                                                            DAGAM – Cloud


JA – Eat                                                                                                                          JUGA – To drink

MANAL -Ready, Ripe, cooked                                                                                  NANAYN – Thirsty

BANGIM – Head                                                                                                          BINAN – Ear

GAM-GAM – Brain                                                                                                      MURU – Nose

MIYI – Eye                                                                                                                     YIBURU – Face

DANGAN – Hand                                                                                                         DUNGAN – Finger

JINAN – Foot                                                                                                                GIRAR – Back

NYALAR – Tears                                                                                                           BUWI – Breath




JUHMBI – Smoke (Fire)


BARUN – Boomerang, hunting or non returning

BARGAN – Boomerang returning



Comments to “Bundjalung Words”

  1. is there a word for thank you?

    • Administrator

      Hi Maggie, im having trouble finding a word for thank you. Its not listed in the dictionary that i have. I have asked a friend who will try and find out for us. I will let you know. Becci


  2. Hi, I am hoping to start a small business in the next couple of months and was hoping you could help me out with some words that I want to use in the name. I was going to go for Latin but I feel that it would be more appropriate to use a language closer to home. Although I am not Indigenous I respect and admire the connection with the soul of the land that Indigenous culture is built upon, and I would like to incorporate the feeling of that into the ethos of my business, and also the name. Do you know the words for moon, sun, grow/ nurture, heaven, nature, woman and earth? I would really appreciate your help, if you’ve got the time! Thanks :)

    • Administrator

      Hi Grace, i hope i can help you :-)

      moon = Gibam (moonlight) = gibamgir
      sun = Yalgan (suntime, day time etc) = nyanggay sun, day = burgu
      grow = (plants) = Jahna. (grow up …become adult) = Buyuh-wan (Grow up…. grow big) = Jehrwen or Jehrgam-wen (to grow) = berangaa

      nurture = ?
      heaven = ( up in the air ) Buhbarah (Where departed spirits go) = waydjang
      nature = ?
      woman = (young) = wulbung (old) = marang (elderly) = mirunggan (white woman) = yiraligan (dark skinned) = dubay
      earth = (ground..country) Jugan Earth (dirt) Jugul

      Good luck and i hope your name flows to you smoothly


  3. HI, We are looking for a name to submit to council for a small un -named lane in Shelly beach and we wondering if you could suggest a short name relating to the area. It would be good to use a traditional name……….. something like sea or water or shells or sand . Very interesting website. Thank you. Rita Slingsby.

    • Administrator

      Hi Rita, thank you for your message. here are some suggestions taken from “Yugambeh – Bundjalung Dictionary” put together by Margaret C Sharpe. Hope it helps, Becci
      Ocean, open sea = dumgan
      salt water = birin, biren
      salt,= yarung
      water, salty = jamigan
      shell = Bandal
      shells (esp limpets and pippies) = bidjaguny
      sea, beach, coast = burugar
      sea beach = gawgam
      wet sand = gabingaa
      sand, beach = yarang
      beach = julidjwur
      beach, sea = bunbar