Wild Life Stories Project from North Stradbroke Island

Jandewal Wildlife Chart.

Guest Blogger: Barry Brown

Barry has been undertaking research into the languages of Moreton Bay and adjacent coastline and is a regular attendee at our Research Discovery Workshops. Additionally, Barry was selected for a Language Residency at State Library to research the collections and build upon his studies. This guest blog outlines an innovative project that he has been working on; some of the content is drawn from a recent interview.

Wild-LIFE-Stories Project.

Wild-LIFE-Stories project was created with support by local Jandewal Language custodians, and with contributions by community nature photographers. The end result of the project was a poster featuring 50 animals found in the North Stradbroke Island-Moreton Bay environment.

Wild-Life-Stories: Birds.

Technically, I built on earlier work from the Lingua Shadow Project, with a family I stuck with since being allowed to join the old CDEP labour centre back in 2003. The members of that very supportive organisation endorsed my continued work on language. With that sort of responsibility, listening is always important and many families have been generous with suggestions, background info and specific guidance.

To complete the project Barry had to painstakingly research the available historical and linguistic material that complemented the community knowledge. Barry’s previous work with the Meston Notebooks assisted in this research project. The following image shows the difficult task of deciphering Meston’s handwriting and spelling system.

Meston - Coobenpil Animals, p. 17.

This task involved balancing up-close strategies like handwriting analysis, comparative and historical linguistic chart building, drawing upon early materials collected by Welsby, Meston, Curr and others as well as contemporary researchers such as Bannister and Holmer.

Curr No. 170 - Stradbroke & Moreton Islands.

For example, the above image shows a list of words collated by George Watkins that was published in Curr’s 1886 text “The Australian Race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent.” Watkins was the Dispenser and Assistant Director at the Benevolent Asylum, Dunwich in 1868 and had a keen interest in the Aborigines as well as the flora and fauna of North Stradbroke Island. During his time there, Watkins collected over 250 words from Aboriginal community members.

Wild-LIFE-Stories: Koala & Flying Fox.

The Wild-Life-Stories poster includes a photo as well as the Jandewal language word to complement the popular name and scientific name for the species.

Wilde-LIFE-Stories: Marine Life

Visit the Facebook Page dedicated to this poster project where you can download a copy of the Poster. If on North Stradbroke Island you can purchase a full-size poster at selected outlets.

Thanks to Barry for the blog story – great idea for a resource to bring language to life, particularly in the schools.

Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, Queensland Memory

State Library of Queensland Indigenous Languages Webpages


References and Further Reading

Curr, E. M. (1887) The Australian Race: its origins, languages, customs, place of landing in Australia and the routes by which it spread itself over that continent. RBF 572.994 cur

Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic Survey of South-Eastern Queensland. J 499.15 HOL

Meston, A. (undated) Archibald Meston Papers Undated. OM64-17

Steele, J. G. (1984) Aboriginal pathways in southeast Queensland and the Richmond River. Q 994.3102 ste

Watkins, G. (1891) Notes on the Aboriginals of Stradbroke and Moreton Islands. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland. 8: 40-50. P306.089 wat

Welsby, T. (1916) “Recollections of the Natives of Moreton Bay together with some of their names and customs of living.” (Typescript) 6758 Box 11392.


Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Studies: Collectors of Words – Curr No. 170.

Barry Brown’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/edu.tourism/