D28: Wiriyaraay

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Kamilaroi (Weraerai)
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
['wirai] = ['werai] = no, Wiraiarai, Weraiari, Wirri-Wirri, Wirra:arai, Warlarai, Wolroi, Wolleri, Waho-lari, Wolaroo, Walarai, Juwalarai, Walari, Wolaroi, Woo-laroi, Ginniebal (read g as dj), ? Mooran Mooran.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Wirriyaraay [Ash, Giacon, and Lissarrague 2003]
Wirayaraay, Wiriwiri, Kamilaroi, Weraerai, Euahlayi, Gamilaroi, Guyinbaray, Juwalarai, Ualarai, Walarai, Wirajarai, Wirraiyarrai, Wiri Wiri, Wirriyaraay, Wiraiarai, Weraiari, Wirri Wirri, Wirraarai, Warlarai, Wolroi, Wolleri, Waho lari, Wolaroo, Walari, Wolaroi, Woo laroi, Ginniebal, Mooran Mooran, Wirrayaraay

Much confusion surrounds the code D28. Its reference name is Wiriyaraay in the Thesaurus and ILDB. On the other hand, the reference name in Oates and Oates (1970:167), an older source, is Wiriwiri; they list Weraiari, Weri-ari, Wiraerai, Wirajarai, Wirraiarai and Wirri-Wirri as alternatives. Oates and Oates describe 'Gwydir River from Moree to Bingara, north to Warialda and Gilgil Creek, NSW' as its location. This location corresponds to that of Wiriyaraay given by Austin, Williams and Wurm (1980:169).

However, according to Wafer and Lissarrague (2008:216-221), Wirraay-Wirraay D66 (equivalent to Wirriwirri/Wirri-Wirri above) does not refer to the same language as Wiriyaraay, on the basis of location: Barlow (1873:174) places Wirriwirri in 'Balonne country', which is north of the location of Wiriyaraay D28. Wafer and Lissarrague also identify another language, Wirraayaraay D65, possibly equivalent to Wirraiarai and Wiraerai above, which is related to Wiradjuri D10, while they consider Wirraay-Wirraay to be related to Gamilaraay D23. Note that Wafer and Lissarrague also treat Mathew's 'Wirraiari' (1903:270) as Wirraay-Wirraay.

It is difficult to say which identity the code D28 originally referred to: Wiriyaraay, Wirraay-Wirraay or Wirraayaraay. Capell's (1963) 'D45 Wirajarai', which Oates and Oates (1970) link to 'A.I.A.S. D28', may be variously interpreted as equivalent to: 1) Wirraayaraay D65, by the name he provides (Wirajarai); 2) Wiriyaraay D28, by the location he provides (Gwydir River from Moree to Bingara, north to Warialda and Gilgil Creek); or 3) Wirraay-Wirraay (D66), by the reference he makes to Mathew's Wirraiari (1903:270).

Note that Wafer and Lissarrague (2008:216-221) argue that there is not enough evidence to support the existence of a language variety called Wiriyaraay, while Austin, Williams and Wurm (2008:169) say it is related to Gamilaraay. Tindale's Weraerai, Wiriwiri in Oates and Oates (1970:167) and Wiri-Wiri in Oates (1975:222) may refer to Wiriyaraay, Wirraay-Wirraay D66 or Wirraayaraay D65.


  • Austin, Peter, Corinne J. Williams & Stephen Wurm. 1980. The linguistic situation in north central New South Wales. In Papers in Australian Linguistics 13, pp. 167-180. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Barlow, Harriott. 1873. Vocabulary of Aboriginal dialects of Queensland. The Journal of Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2, pp. 166-175.
  • Mathews, Robert Hamilton. 1903. Languages of the Kamilaroi and other Aboriginal tribes of NSW. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 33:259-283.
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1975. The 1973 supplement to a revised linguistic survey of Australia. Armidale: Armidale Christian Book Centre.
  • Oates, William J. & Lynette F. Oates. 1970. A revised linguistic survey of Australia: Australian Aboriginal Studies 33, Linguistic Series 12. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Wafer, Jim & Amanda Lissarrague. 2008. A handbook of Aboriginal languages of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Nambucca Heads: Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative.
Potential no data
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

... between the Dumaresq and Gwydir Rivers and the Great Dividing Range (Austin, Williams and Wurm 1980:169).

North side of Gwydir River from Moree to Bingara; northward to Warialda and Gilgil Creek; west to Garah. At Yallaroi; on Macintyre River from Inverell to north of Wallangra (Tindale 1974).


Janet Mathews
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 Less than 20 pages 1
Text Collection None 0
Grammar None 0
Audio-visual None 0
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available (song, vocabulary, phrase)
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005)          
Dixon (2002)   CENTRAL NEW SOUTH WALES GROUP Central inland New South Wales subgroup* Wirayaraay (or Wiriwiri) Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi) Williams (1980) further dialects: Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaaliyaay (Euahlayi), Gunjbaraay, Gawambaraay, Wirayaraay (or Wiriwiri), Walaraay
Wurm (1994)          
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan Wiradhuric   Wiriyaraay Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi) [dialects: Gamilaraay, Northern Gamilaraay, Guyinbaraay, Gamilaraay, Wiriyaraay, Gawambaraay, Yuwaaliyaay]
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Wiradjuric Main Wiradjuric Wiri-Wiri  
Wurm (1972)          
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966)