A40: Birdungu

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Bedongo, Bidungo, Bidong, Bidungo, Peedona, Peedong, Pidung, Pidunga, Pidong
Tindale (1974)
O'Grady et al (1966)
Pedong, Peedong, Pidunga, Peedona, Pardoo, Palatong
Other sources
Pidong (Wells, 1893), Pedong (Davidson 1938, Connelly 1932) Beedungoo (Bates 1913) Pidungu (Brandenstein 1969) Bedongo, Bidungo, Bidong, Bidungo, Peedona, Peedong, Pidung, Pidunga (alternate names of Kokatja (A68) (Tindale 1974:245) Pidong (alternate name for Wadjari (A39) (Tindale 1974:258)
Bidungu, Bedengo, Pedong, Peedong, Pidunga, Peedona, Pardoo, Palatong, Bidungu, Pidong Bedongo, Bidungo, Pidungu

The name Bidungu and its alternatives have been treated in different ways, apparently because Bidungu is a compass term and the language/people it refers to differ depending on the context. That is, Bidungu may not refer to a specific language or dialect.

Bates (1913) says 'beedungoo' in some groups denotes a point to the north-east and also applies to the natives living there, while O'Grady et al. (1966) list Bedengo (A40) as a dialect of the same language as Nyangumarda A61.

According to von Brandenstein (MS 1746, in Thieberger 1993), Pidungu (A40) has at least three dialects. Seen from Peak Hill, they are Ngarrka (east), Kurdun (west) and Yirrakalan (south but north of Meekatharra). There appears to be no language data supplied for these dialects. However, Oates and Oates (1970) also make reference to Ngarrga(warngga) as a dialect of Bedengo (A40) (though the other two names are not mentioned) and say that von Brandenstein collected vocabulary.

According to Oates (1975) (who refers to A40 as 'Bidungu/Ngayawanga/Ngadawanga'), von Brandenstein reported Ngayawanga A30 as an alternative name of Bidungu (A40), a name which Daisy Bates equated with Ngadawanga A30. Oates says that Bates reported two dialects of Ngaiawonga A30: a northern dialect, north of Wiluna, and a southern dialect associated with Lake Way, Wiluna, Mt Sir Samuel and Lawler's Range. Bates's analysis was informed by a body of some texts and a 100-word vocabulary she collected. Oates ventures that Bidungu (A40) may be the cover term and Ngaiawanga and Ngadawanga the dialect names, though she also notes that Hudson believes Bidungu (A40) to be only a geographical term.

On the other hand, Marmion (2005 p.c.) says that Birdungu is a Wajarri A39 word (at least in some dialects) which means 'east' or 'north-east' and is used to refer to people from around Meekatharra who are not central Wajarri A39. Marmion (1996, MS 4096) says that speakers of Birdungu are currently referring to themselves as Ngunuru A112. (Note that 'Ngoonooru' appears in a number of web pages about native title, though without reference to Birdungu.) Marmion (2015 p.c.) adds that Birdungu was usually used to refer to Ngunuru A112 but may also have encompassed Nharnu A115. He notes that von Brandenstein's use of the term Birdungu indicates Nharnu A115 and possibly also other, non-Wajarri language varieties.

Note however that, according to Vaso Elefsiniotis, one dialect of Wajarri A39 is currently called Birdungu Wajarri. Elefsiniotis comments that Birdungu is the name given by others to the Wajarri people who traditionally lived at the eastern or north-eastern boundary of Wajarri country, depending on the observer's perspective.

The Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation web site lists Birdungu and Ngunuru A112 as two distinct dialects of Wajarri A39 (in addition to other dialects: Nharnu A115, Nhugarn A71, Byro A113 and Mileura A114).


  • Bates, Daisy. 1913. Aboriginal names of places. Science of Man, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 73-76. (S 57/63)
  • Brandenstein, Carl G. von. 1969. Diary XVIII. Diaries, 1964-1969. (MS 1746)
  • Marmion, Doug. 1996. A description of the morphology of Wajarri. University of New England, honours thesis. (MS 4096)
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

On the Gascoyne near Shaw's, east of the Port about 300 miles, we come to what is called the Peedong tribe, which extends along the Gascoyne right by Milgin, Lake Nabberoo, all round by Brown's, 40 miles E. of Milgin, and Peak Hill...The Peedong run west from Shaw's to Landy Creek about 40 miles and here on the west of the Peedong are the Irrawadgerees. The Peedongs go south of Shaw's 50 or 60 miles right on to the Murchison running up the river (both sides) to Peak Hill, and extend south as far as the Ord River. They run up the Ord river about 25 miles. From Peak Hill they go south to Wiluna about 25 miles, and here they come into a tribe that call themselves Ka-kara (east?) (Bates, 1993:4-5).

Indigenous organisations: 
Year Source Speaker numbers

Speaker numbers were measured differently across the censuses and various other sources listed in AUSTLANG. You are encouraged to refer to the sources.

Speaker numbers for ‘NILS 2004’ and ‘2005 estimate’ come from 'Table F.3: Numbers of speakers of Australian Indigenous languages (various surveys)' in 'Appendix F NILS endangerment and absolute number results' in McConvell, Marmion and McNicol 2005, pages 198-230 (PDF, 2.5MB).

Type Documentation Status Documentation Score
Word list   1?
Text Collection None 0
Grammar None 0
Audio-visual   1?
Manuscript note: 
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005)          
Dixon (2002)   MOORE RIVER TO GASCOYNE RIVER GROUP Watjarri/Parti-maya subgroup* Birdungu Watjarri Douglas (1981), Marmion (1996) further dialects: Birdungu, Nhugarn; and possibly Ngarluwangka (or may be separate language)
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Bidungu  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati/Western Desert Bidungu  
Oates (1975)          
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Marngu Bedengo  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Marngu Bedengo