It was an exciting day when the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) announced the official Mascot. A colourful blue koala with a love of surfing arrived by helicopter at Burleigh Beach. Borobi – the Indigenous Yugambeh language word for koala – will play a key role in welcoming the athletes of the world and bringing to life the true spirit of the Games.
Borobi the koala was already well known in the Yugambeh region but also here at the State Library through a 1998 publication Borobi and his friends which was later re-created as a virtual book on the SLQ website. The virtual book narrated by Axel Best provides an introduction to the Yugambeh language of the Logan and Gold Coast regions.
This publication and subsequent virtual book was the work of Ysola Best and the Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Research Centre at Beenleigh. The centre has been actively involved in language revival across Southern Queensland and were understandably excited at the announcement.
Yugambeh Museum CEO, Rory O’Connor, says Borobi the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games mascot is a huge win for Indigenous languages in Australia. “Australia has never had a games mascot with an Indigenous name,” Mr O’Connor said. “This is an Australian first. Borobi means Koala in local Yugambeh language.” “It is a huge credit to our Elders and their work to revive language in everyday use,” he said. “And it sends a powerful message to the rest of the world that the Commonwealth Games 2018 is serious about including Aboriginal story and culture.”
The State Library has a range of resources on the Yugambeh language and encourage people to discover more about the traditional language and culture of the Gold Coast region. Did you know that ‘koala’ itself is an Aboriginal word – it is from the Dharug language of the Greater Sydney region and was one of the first Aboriginal loanwords into English. You can also find other Indigenous words for ‘koala’ for your local region using the State Library collections.
This YouTube Clip reveals the backstory of Borobi, his blue fur and how he discovered surfing.
Indigenous Languages Coordinator, Queensland Memory
Allan, J. and Lane, J. (2001) The language of the Wangerriburra and neighbouring groups in the Yugambeh region. Kombumerri Aboriginal Corporation for Culture: Beenleigh. P 499.15 all
Best, Y. (1998) Borobi and his friends. P 499.15 bes Listen to the story as a virtual book: http://enc.slq.qld.gov.au/vbook/slq/borobi-and-his-friends/index.htm
Gold Coast 2018 Website: http://gc2018.com/borobi
Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic survey of South-Eastern Queensland. J 499.15 HOL
Sharpe, M. (1998) Dictionary of Yugambeh, including neighbouring dialects, compiled by Margaret Sharpe from various sources: Pacific Linguistics C-139. G 499.15 1998
Watson, F. J. (1944) “Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland”; supplement to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (Queensland), No. 34, Vol XLVIII. REFJ 499.15 wat
Yugambeh Museum News ‘Mascot name a huge win for Aboriginal languages’