Mackay Language Recording Workshop [11-13 September 2017]

As part of our ongoing work with the Mackay community and the revival of Yuwibara language, State Library is partnering with Mackay Regional Libraries and North Queensland Regional Aboriginal Corporation Language Centre to deliver a language workshop in September.

Port Mackay – G F Bridgeman.

George Bridgeman was the Superintendent of the Baker’s Creek Aboriginal Mission established in the 1870’s and collated approximately 600 words, simple phrases and a basic grammar of Yuwibara language from local Aboriginal people taken to the mission. This represents one of the few sources available for the traditional languages of Mackay – the above image shows a sample of the everyday words collected by Bridgeman. Enthusiastic community members have added their knowledge and memories of language.

ABC Open – Yuwibara parts of the body.

From this starting point, Uncle Gary Mooney with the support of ABC Open produced a Yuwibara parts of the body digital story that was featured on the Mother Tongue project.

Yuwibara body parts – ABC Open, Mother Tongue Project.

Through the efforts of Norell at Mackay Library Services who has harnessed community energy, there is now a draft community dictionary of nearly 900 words to help bring Yuwibara back to life in the Mackay Region.  A language workshop in 2016 helped develop resources and generate discussions around how Yuwibara can be used in the community – signage, conversations, welcome to country, etc.

Draft Yuwibara Community Dictionary.

The next step on this language journey is to record the words and phrases collated in the community dictionary and add local knowledge such as stories or songs to build up a comprehensive language database on Miromaa.

Gordon White Library, Mt Pleasant.

Workshop participants will be actively engaged in learning how to record language and adding audio content to Miromaa, a language software program that documents and archives language to support language revival. The workshop will be held 11-13 September at the Gordon White Library at Mt Pleasant. To register your interest in this workshop please email at Mackay Libraries or at State Library of Queensland. For further information, please call Norell Binsiar on 07 4961 9341.


Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, Queensland Memory


State Library of Queensland Indigenous Languages webpages

State Library of Queensland Indigenous Languages and New Media Toolkit 


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

Roth, H. L. (2009) The discovery and settlement of Port Mackay, Queensland: with numerous illustrations, charts and maps, and some notes on the natural history of the district. Q 994.36 ROT

Terrill, A. (1998) Biri. J 499.15 TER