Borobi the Commonwealth Games Mascot!

Borobi - Gold Coast 2018 Website.

Borobi  (Source: Gold Coast 2018 Website.)

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 and his friends, P499.15 bes

Borobi and his friends, P499.15 bes

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.

Page from Borobi and his friends virtual book.

Page from Borobi and his friends virtual book.

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 Website

Yugambeh Website

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.”

Dictionary of Yugambeh, including surrounding dialects. G 499.15 1998

Dictionary of Yugambeh, including surrounding dialects. G 499.15 1998

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.

The Story of Borobi - GC2018 YouTube Channel.

The Story of Borobi – GC2018 YouTube Channel.

This YouTube Clip reveals the backstory of Borobi, his blue fur and how he discovered surfing.


Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, Queensland Memory

State Library of Queensland Indigenous Languages webpages


Further Reading

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 friendsP 499.15 bes Listen to the  story as a virtual book:

Gold Coast 2018 Website:

Holmer, N. (1983) Linguistic survey of South-Eastern QueenslandJ 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’