Djabugay Culture

bayouThe Bulurru ancestors "put" things in place, creating all the different varieties of rna: and minya (non-flesh and flesh foods) for the people's sustenance and showing them how to procure them.

They endowed the people with the material culture which mediated their survival as hunters and gatherers the knowledge of how to make weapons, traps, tools, utensils, shelters and so on, the techniques for hunting various types of game and for preparing a diversity of food-stuffs,including some like badil the cycad nut and yiwurra the black bean that are dangerously toxic unless processed correctly.

Following up the country's seasonal resources the Djabuganydji followed in the tracks of their ancestors who had revealed the way to them and established the laws and customs of social life.

The Bulurru ancestors instituted the social institutions that regulated marriage, enabling society to reproduce itself', the Law which guided it and the aesthetic by which that life was celebrated in art, song and dance.

Traditional Artefacts

Djabugay People have a rich artefact making tradition. The men used to make shields, spears, boomerangs, bayus while women could wave the most elaborate baskets and bags. Most of these skills are still being practiced today. It is imperative that these skills are handed down to future generations because once a skill is lost, it is lost forever!




bicornal basketThis is a yimbi. It's a dilly-bag. The yimbi was made from split lawyer cane.

It was used for carrying food and babies. It was also used as a fish trap.

The bag's strap went around the head and the bag hung down the back.

Skill transfer

Rhonda BrimThis is Rhonda Brim, Djabugay's master weaver. Rhonda is very keen to teach others in the community her skills.

This photo was taken at Mona Mona where Rhonda, with the aid of Cairns Regional CDEP, conducted a 3 week weaving class.

Ngirrma Video project

language videoWe are in the last stages to completing a Ngirrma (language) video, a  tool that can be used to learn Djabugay Ngirrma.

Ngirrma (Djabugay Language)


Speakers of the Djabugay language include not only the Djabuganydji people but the Nyagalindji, Gulunydji, Bulwanydji and Yirrganydji. All these peoples spoke one ngirrma, one language.

Bulway, Nyagali, Guluy, Yirrgay are all dialects of Djabugay and so their speakers could understand each other. Today, however, knowledge of these dialects has been lost.

The map shows the extent of the area over which Djabugay and its dialects were spoken. The groups speaking these dialects inhabited lands both on the coast and coastal range and on the tableland. This map is from Patz 1991 and is based on work by Ursula McConnel (1939) and communication with Gilpin Banning.

Language Map

languages map“The groups speaking these dialects inhabited a triangle from just south of Cairns to just north of Atherton, then northward along the Barron River and on to Mount Molloy, then meeting the coast again between Port Douglas and Mossman….

The Djabugay-speaking group the Djabuganydji, apparently occupied the largest territory, including a long stretch along the Barron River.” (Elizabeth Patz, 1991)


dictionary coverDjabugay dictionary