Marrin Gamu 2018

Marrin Gamu website

In 2018, ABC is partnering again with First Languages Australia to host the Marrin Gamu Indigenous Language Song Competition.

The rules are fairly straightforward:

  1. Sing a song in the traditional language of your area!

ABC and First Languages Australia are inviting schools to work with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to translate the Marrin Gamu song into the first language of their area. Community members include Elders, language speakers, custodians as well as community groups who may be working with language in you school-community.

Recording a Marrin Gamu entry. [First Languages Australia website]

The title Marrin Gamu combines the word for body in two of the languages in the film clip:

Marrin – Wiradjuri (NSW)

Gamu – Kalaw Kawaw Ya (Torres Strait)

Marrin Gamu lyrics.

There are two ways for students to participate in Marrin Gamu, either as part of an existing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language program, or as mainstream classroom activities. This simple yet effective idea explores the concept of ‘many languages, one song’ through local language words for parts of the body. The Marrin Gamu competition is also a great way for schools to connect with their local Indigenous community

Murrin Gamu music score.

Murrin Gamu music score.

The Marrin Gamu website and ABC Splash Competition webpages provide ideas and resources for teachers and schools to get them working with their local community; including lots of ideas around creating your song and making a video clip to enter the competition.

2017 Marrin Gamu winners.

Last year, Woorabinda State School in Central Queensland was the runner-up to Western Australia’s Penrhos College Junior School – you can see their video clips and all of the other entries from 2017 at the ABC webpage.

Butchulla parts of the body.

In addition to local language resources, such as Language Centres, Community Organisations or Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs), the State Library has a range of wordlists that can assist school-communities in developing their local song. These lists of words include parts of the body for a number of Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

ABC Education – Indigenous Language Song Competition.

For further details on Marrin Gamu and how to enter:

  • ABC Education – Competition Page
  • First Languages Australia website
  • Marrin Gamu website

Entries close 18 August, so have fun making your video and good luck with your entry!


Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, kuril dhagun


State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages webpages

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages – Body Part wordlists


References and Further Reading

The following is a selection of language references, vocabularies, dictionaries, etc. from the State Library collections – explore One Search Catalogue for other items that may contain vocabularies or words for the differents parts of the body form your local language.

Breen, J. G. and Blake, B. (2007) The grammar of Yalarnnga: a language of western Queensland. Pacific Linguistics: Canberra. J 499.152 BRE

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. John Ferres Government Printer: Melbourne. RBF 572.994 cur

Dixon, R. M. W. (1972) The Dyirbal language of north Queensland. London: Cambridge University Press. G 499.15 1972

Dixon, R. M. W. (1977) A grammar of Yidin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. G 499.155 1977

Edwards, R. (Ed) (2001) Dictionary of Torres Strait languages. Rams Skull Press: Sydney. Q 499.1503 RAY

Helon, G. (1994) The English-Goreng Goreng-English dictionary. Gurang Land Council: Bundaberg. G 499.15 1994

Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders-in-Council Aboriginal Corporation (2011) Jandai language dictionary: a dictionary of language spoken on Stradbroke and Moreton Islands based on words remembered by all Elders and recorded by interested visitors to our shores. HKT 499.153 JAN

Patz, E. (2002) A grammar of the Kuku Yalanji language of north Queensland. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. J 499.15 PAT

Quinn, M. (1992) Djabugay: A Djabugay-English DictionaryP499.15 qui

Sharpe, M. (1998) Dictionary of Yugambeh, including neighbouring dialects, compiled by Margaret Sharpe from various sources: Pacific Linguistics C-139. G 499.15 1998

Sutton, P. (ed) (1974) Languages of Cape York: papers presented to the Linguistic Symposium, Part B, held in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Biennial General Meeting, May,1974. Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies: Canberra. G 499.15 1976

Sutton, P. (1995) Wik-Ngathan dictionary. Caitlin Press: Prospect, SA. Q 499.15 SUT

Terrill, A. (1998) Biri. Munchen: Lincom. J 499.15 TER

Terrill, A. (2002) Dharumbal: the language of Rockhampton, Australia. Pacific Linguistics 525. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. J 499.15 TER

Thancoupie (2007) Thanakupi’s guide to language and culture: a Thaynakwith dictionary. Q 305.899 THA

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