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Journal by itellya

The purpose of this journal is to encourage people to share their knowledge of aboriginal words that have entered the English language as place names or in other ways, such as Yakka.(See Itellya's Sources journal.) No doubt the actual meaning of many words was misinterpreted by those who recorded them. I have read that aborigines used words for places that were really an expression of what happened there, such as frogs growling, water rushing and that words were repeated for emphasis. I think it was surveyor Wedge who first noted the word "Yarra" and presumed that it was the aboriginal word for the freshwater river. I believe that he and his dusky friend were standing near the waterfall near Queen St and Yarra Yarra might have been describing the water's movement.

"Maribyrnong : Action in Tranquility" states that Maribyrnong is a corruption of the aboriginal phrase for I can hear a ringtail possum. A Footscray history said that Cut Cut Paw, the parish name, meant a clump of she-oaks. Symonds says in his "Bulla Bulla" that the parish name meant two hills.I wonder if there is any connection with the fairly common "bool" suffix as in Warrnambool. Another history (Lenore Frost?)stated that Wonga (Wurundjeri) meant bronze- winged pigeon and the Bunurung ( there are a dozen versions of the spelling) used the word for Arthurs Seat, where as Colin McLear says in "A Dreamtime of Dromana", the bronze-winged pigeon kept to scrubby areas, searching for seed in small grassy clearings.

A Victorian or Australian history (The Settlers?) said that Robert Hoddle accepted 100 aboriginal words as compensation from the missionary to the aborigines, George Langhorne, who had used that number of fence posts belonging to Hoddle. (See more about Langhorne in the J.T.SMITH AND HIS ELECTORS journal, in relation to Peter Young of "Nairn", whose details I'd better add before you read it!)
I have found the origin of over 200 street names on the Peninsula, but have met a brick wall regarding seemingly aboriginal names for streets south west and north east of the Boneo/Eastbourne Rd intersection at Rosebud.They do not even resemble the vocabulary on the Bunurung website and the Shire's aboriginal consultant says that the names have been plucked from all over Australia. Perhaps somebody has come across these words.(See google map.)
I hope that many people add their comments.

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by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-12-05 04:39:14

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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by itellya on 2012-01-25 08:40:14

Not much response, so I'll see if I can get those with knowledge of aboriginal vocabulary going.
James Davey had grants on each side of Frankston, both having aboriginal names. Ballanrong included the Mornington Racecourse land and Cannanuke was centred on Davey's Bay. The latter name, with a change of spelling, has been used for the creek forming the eastern boundary of Long Island. I have no idea what either word means but I'm wondering if there is a similar physical feature at Mornington East and Ballan (on the way to Ballarat.) It could be to do with streams (Balcombe Creek and the Werribee River.)
The ending "rong" as in Ballanrong is fairly common, with Tuerong being one example in the immediate vicinity. Tootgarook describes the noise made by frogs and I wonder if there is a similar swamp at Tallarook. One book that I read years ago said that Tyabb meant giant earthworm but I think I have seen a different meaning elsewhere.

by itellya on 2012-01-25 09:26:03

Looking through the localities index in Melway for the area near Melbourne, I was disappointed to see so few aboriginal words but it was different with the touring map index. One word I forgot to mention in the journal was the name of the vineyard established at Sunbury between the Dunsford Track (Lancefield Rd) and Jacksons Creek by Francis. It was Goona Warra, meaning black swan according to I.W.Symonds in "Bulla Bulla".
I was reminded of this by a common suffix including the letters WARR as seen in Langwarrin, Narre Warren, Warrnambool, Modewarre, Warragul, Warringal (an early name for Heidelberg, if I remember correctly) and a heap of other names starting with those letters. I wonder if all those places had a body of water large enough to attract swans.

by janilye on 2012-01-25 09:58:10

Things are crook in Tallarook!
I know that in Western Australia the suffix 'up' means 'place of' as in Manjimup, Nannup, Coolup etc. The list goes on. These WA names made me wonder about the Victorian town Kooweerup but the name was once Ku-wirup so no relation.
Warracknabeal means flooded gum tree, Werribee means the spine and Toorak = Swamp with tea-tree
Anyway here's a list Australian Place Names of Aboriginal origin

by janilye on 2012-01-25 10:06:33

warrawee means come here and if things are Dubbo that means foggy

by tonkin on 2012-01-25 10:23:14

NO ... it's foggy in Dubbo and you warrawee.

by janilye on 2012-01-25 10:28:55

Actually things were a bit Dubbo last Saturday morning. I went to a wake the night before

by itellya on 2012-01-29 08:18:46

While checking a claim in DISCOVER MORNINGTON PENINSULA that William Hobson had held the Tootgarook Run (it was actually Edward William), I discovered THE RIVER OF LITTLE FISH by William Cuthill, a website about Traralgon. A short journal about the Hobsons will be written, but the point re aboriginal vocabulary is that Mr Cuthill stated that Edward William's older brother,Dr Edmund Charles Hobson, probably coined the name "Traralgon"; it came from two aboriginal words : tarra (a river) and algon (a little fish). Next to the Hobsons' Traralgon run was the Loy Yang run, this name meaning big eel.

by itellya on 2012-02-19 00:34:48

The following comes from the A volume of DICTIONARY HISTORY OF TULLAMARINE AND MILES AROUND in a cutting from the Sunday Herald Sun of 18-9-1994. The article was entitled "Clan: We're not Koories." Ian Hunter, who contributed aboriginal names for streets in Melbourne Airport in 1889 (see the wikipedia entry for the airport), said that Koorie was from a N.S.W. dialect and was offensive to the Wurundjeri. The closest word in their language was koonie which meant dung, and koorie had the meaning of dog droppings in S.A. and concubine in W.A. Ian suggested that woongle or kulin, both meaning people, should be used instead but an ATSIC spokesman said that the huge number of aboriginal dialects made a common term almost impossible.
Ian also said that a word for non-aboriginal people which derived from "Governor" should also be replaced with the traditional word, namaatji.

by itellya on 2012-02-21 16:07:32

While googling Franklinford, I discovered the Dja Dja Wurrung wikipedia, which contains several examples of their vocabulary.

by itellya on 2012-03-28 18:11:25

A website about St Kilda explained the origins of two names associated with the former shire of Broadmeadows. The aboriginal name for the St Kilda area was Yuroe Yuroke which described grinding stones found at the base of the red sandstone cliffs. Walert-gurn was the term for possum skin rugs. These were Boon-wurrung words, this clan occupying Melbourne's coastal area to Werribee as well as the Mornington Peninsula etc. I believe that Wollert (as well as Yuroke) was a parish name. Another website described how squatters erected bells on large poles and would ring them if their stations were attacked by aborigines. The bell would alert neighbours (living 10 or more miles away) to danger and also summon help. This would probably explain the name of Bell Post Hill in Geelong.

by popt on 2012-05-03 05:20:13

Iam no expert but I think it is important to mention that a whole of Aboriginal peoples in Australia cannot speak to each other in their own language as there is not one common language.
There are totally different words for the same thing in different areas.


by itellya on 2014-10-16 22:21:43

I heard a fascinating interview today, on Radio Port Phillip (RPPFM)with the focus much on the boon wurrung. A man named Paul (Patton?) was speaking about the work of the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. He said that over 90% of Boon wurrung vocabulary was common to other member groups of the Kulin nation,the only words specific to each group describing environmental features of each group's territory, such as ocean. Place names were actually descriptions of what might be encountered there such as plentiful supply of a certain food. The corporation has a museum and is in the process of moving according to its website (below.)

In relation to the comment by popt above,the common element of the Kulin Nation was language, according to Ian Hunter,with whom I had several conversations during the 1988 bicentennial project instigated by Anthony Rohead an inspector with the F.A.C. (Federal Airports Corporation. I presume there were many such language-based nations.

Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages

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