This section provides useful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Language resources and links to help you with your research at the State Library.

State Library of Queensland

State Library has a number of resources available through its website in online catalogue services. The State Library catalogue enables individuals to research the collections of Original Materials, Published Materials, Audio-Visual and Digital items relating to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, languages and histories.

The State Library collections include a diverse/extensive range of language materials, particularly relating to Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Further reference materials may be found in local/regional collections, including public libraries. State Library materials pertaining to Indigenous languages fall into the following categories:

Web-based Materials:

The State Library website has range of Indigenous language materials available on-line for community access.

  • Virtual/Digital Stories – there are a number of virtual books available on-line in languages including Butchulla, Gamilaraay, Gunggari, Gudjal and Yugambeh. In addition, a range of digital material, including photos, stories can also be found on the State Library website.
  • On-line resources – State Library have developed a range of resource materials that can support community language revival and has produced a number of information guides, word lists, etc.

On-line Language Resources:

Original Materials:

Original Materials refer to the historically rich and diverse range of material such as business records, diaries and correspondence, photographs, artworks and film, original maps and plans, artefacts and decorative art, oral histories and digital stories. Of particular interest for language research are materials collected by pastoralists, Government Officers, Missionaries and other individuals. Such materials including wordlists, vocabularies and other language knowledge dates back to the 1820’s and gives an historical insight into how language was spoken and documented at the time of contact.

  • Pastoral/Station Records – many pastoral properties had Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander workers and may have collected information on people on the property as well as language and culture. For example, Lammermoor Station via Hughenden was selected in 1863 by Robert Christison who documented over 500 words from the Dalleburra Aboriginal workers on the property.
  •  Journals, Diaries, notebooks, etc. – a range of individuals documented their daily lives in Queensland, including references to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, their culture and lifestyle. Language material may have been recorded in these primary sources. For example, Roth and Meston who were Chief Protectors of Aborigines in Queensland in the 1897-1920’s period collated a significant amount of material on the lives, customs and beliefs of the people under their jurisdiction. The Meston Papers contain notebooks, press cuttings and journal entries on Aboriginal words and phrases from communities and towns across Queensland. Similarly, the Margaret Lawrie Collection records Torres Strait Islander genealogical, cultural and linguistic heritage gathered during the period 1964-1973.

Published Materials:

Published materials include books, journals/serials, newspapers, rare books and ephemera. In terms of language materials, topics may include:

  • Dictionaries on specific Queensland languages, e.g. Dharambul, the Language of Rockhampton, Angela Terrill (2002)  J 499.15 TER
  • Linguistic surveys, e.g. Linguistic Survey of South-Eastern Queensland, Nils Homer (1983) J 499.15 HOL
  • Historical texts that include linguistic material, e.g. Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland, Constance Campbell Petrie (1932) J 994.32 PET

Audio/Visual Materials:

The State Library of Queensland holds a range of historical and contemporary audio-visual materials that relate to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander languages.

  • Sound Recordings, Tapes, CDs, etc. of language, including songs, stories and linguistic recordings. For example, Gunggari Language Audio Cassettes is a collection of five cassette recordings that were made in 1974 with several Gunggari language speakers in the Mitchell area. 7630 Gunggari Language Audio Cassettes
  •  DVDs, Films, etc. on cultural topics either speaking in language or speaking about language in communities. For example, Retold: A retelling of stories and songs from Myths and Legends of the Torres Strait by Margaret Lawrie (2010) is a State Library project that involved Torres Strait Islander community members retelling the stories that were collected during 1964-1973 and providing additional cultural information to complement the original stories. 27465 Retold: A retelling of stories and songs from Myth and Legends of the Torres Strait by Margaret Lawrie 2010.

Vimeo Channel

The State Library of Queensland has a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language related digital stories on Vimeo:

Further Information

OneSearch: Searches State Library Collections for print and electronic books and journals, manuscripts, videos, images, sound recordings and items from digital collections.

Further details:

Library Membership Card: membership provides community members with access to the State Library of Queensland’s collections and associated services.

Further details:

Tags: State Library Collection items relating to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are gradually being ‘tagged’ with AIATSIS/AUSTLANG language codes to make it easier for research. For example, a One Search request on ‘Djirbal’ will identify twenty-six (26) items in the collections; however there may be several different spellings for languages, hence the ‘tags’ for these items will include the AIATSIS/AUSTLANG Language Code y123 which will identify forty-five (45) items in the collections.


State Library Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages webpages:

State Library Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Interactive resources map:

Resources available through the State Library website –

Do a search of the online catalogue, One Search – or use the ‘tags‘ option to identify names of languages, AIATSIS/AUSTLANG Language Codes and other key terms that identify collection items.

We encourage Indigenous Languages Centres, Community Organisations, Language Workers and others to share their language resources here on the blog!

Desmond Crump

Indigenous Languages Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages Webpages