E13: Arakwal

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
Tindale (1974)
Coo-al , Jawhumjeri , Lismore tribe , Naiang , Njung , Nyung , Yawkum-yere , Kahwul , Kogung
O'Grady et al (1966)
Gundurimba, Tugurimba
Other sources
Aragwal, Arakawal, Coo al, Gundurima, Jahwun Jere, Jawjumjeri, Kagung, Kahwul, Kogung, Lismore tribe, Naiang, Njung, Nyung, Tugurimba, Yawkum yore, Gundurimba, Jawhumjeri, Yawkum yere

The status of Arakwal is unclear. The area identified as Arakwal by Tindale (as far west as Casino, see 1974:191) corresponds to the language areas identified as Nganduwal E78, Minyangbal E18, Wiyabal E15.1, Nyangbal E75, Banjalang E12, Galibal E15, Gidabal E14 and Casino E73 by Crowley (1978:144-150).

The sources Tindale cites do not mention the name Arakwal; Crowley identifies these sources as referring to the Bundjalung dialects listed above. Tindale lists as alternative names of Arakwal: Kahwul (from Mathews), Coo-al, Jawkum Jore and Kogung (from Hargrave), and Nyung (from Livingstone). It is not clear why Tindale treats them as alternative names of Arakwal. It could be based on the location information (1974:191).

Oates (1975:212) deletes Arakawal, commenting that Ngara:ngbal E79 is considered to be the dialect O'Grady et al. (and Oates & Oates 1970) wrongly named Arakawal (E13).

Both Capell (1963) and O'Grady, Voegelin and Voeglin (1966) list this name but there appears to be no linguistic data connected to it.

Wafer and Lissarrague treat Arakwal as an alternative name of a Bundjalung dialect, which they spell as 'Ngarahgwal' E79 and say, 'We emphasise that the entries below that refer to "Arakwal" (etc.) are included only to provide cross-references for the name "Ngarahgwal".

In some cases the geographical and other data that are associated with these entries (e.g. Tindale 1974:191) do not pertain to the Gold Coast dialects, and are more likely to pertain to Ngahnduwal E79 or Minyangbal' E18 (2008:365). Thus, Arakwal does not seem to refer to a specific or distinctive dialect. Arakwal might have been a sort of cover term for some of the Bundjalung dialects, or it might be the case that Arakwal is another spelling of Ngarahngwal E79.

Sharpe (1985) uses 'Ngarahgwal' and the Ngarakwal Nganduwal Aboriginal Corporation uses 'Ngarakwal'. Both of these are basically the same form as Arakwal except for the word-initial velar nasal 'ng'. However the location does not match, Ngarahngwal is further north.

Today Arakwal is used as a group name. The Arakwal People of Byron Bay web site mentions the language of the Arakwal people, indicating that Arakwal is a variant name for the language otherwise called Minyanbal E18: 'This country and our language dialect correspond closely to the language group Minyanbal on the Bundjalung tribal language area map given on the web site. Our language is at times referred to as Arakwal-Minyanbal.' (viewed 25 February 2015).

Crowley (1978:150) identifies Minjungbal E18 as the language of Byron Bay.

See also: Bundjalung E12; Birihn E72; Casino language E73; Ngarabal E92; Dinggabal E16.1; Galibal E15; Geynyan D36; Gidhabal E14; Mananjahli E76; Minyangbal E18; Nerang Creek language E77; Nganduwal E78; Ngarahgwal E79; Nyangbal E75; Wahlubal E16.2; Wehlubal E80; Wiyabal E16; Wudjebal E96.

Documentation for Bundjalung E12 may be relevant.


  • Capell, Arthur. 1963. Linguistic survey of Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • Crowley, Terry. 1978. The Middle Clarence dialects of Bandjalang (Includes 1940s Bandjalang grammar by W. E. Smythe): Research and Regional Studies 12. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Greenway, John. 1960. The location of Australian tribes. Southwestern Lore, vol. XXV, no. 4.
  • Oates, Lynette F. 1975. The 1973 supplement to a revised linguistic survey of Australia. Armidale: Armidale Christian Book Centre.
  • O'Grady, G. N., C. F. Voegelin and F. M. Voegelin. 1966. Languages of the world: Indo-Pacific fascicle six. Anthropological Linguistics 8(2).
  • Sharpe, Margaret. 1985. An introduction to the Bundjalung language and its dialects. Armidale: Armidale College of Advanced Education.
  • Wafer, Jim, and 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.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

From Lismore and northern bank of Richmond River to Cape Byron (Capell 1963:E1).

From Ballina and northern bank of Richmond River to Cape Byron; south to Ballina where they met Widje hordes of the Badjelang; inland to Lismore, Casino, and Coraki (Tindale 1974).

The boundary of this tribe was from Moonam to the Richmond Range and from the Richmond River to the Clarence River (on 'The Coo-al tribe' in Science of Man 1900; v.3, No.9:151).


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 (unclear status)
Text Collection None 0
Grammar None 0
Audio-visual None 0
Manuscript note: 
not available
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005)          
Dixon (2002)          
Wurm (1994)          
Walsh (1981)          
Oates (1975)          
Wurm (1972)          
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Bandjalangic   Arakwal