K43: Worla

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


Thesaurus heading language
Thesaurus heading people
ABN name
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
Ngarinyin [Wurla]
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Tindale (1974)
Wo:la, Wola, Wula, Waladjangari, Woladjangari, Woolaja, Walandjari, Wolmardai, Waringari (of Ngarinjin, general term, has implications of cannibalism; applied also to Kitja), Oladjau (name applied by Miriwung to several Ngarinjin speaking peoples), Ngarangari, Ngalangari, Ngaiangari ('top of range dwellers,' general term applied by Ngarinjin), Wardia (a horde at Ellenbrae).
O'Grady et al (1966)
Other sources
Waladja, Ngarinyin, Andajin, Ola, Walajangarri, Ngaiangari, Ngalangari, Ngarangari, Oladjau, Waladjangari, Walandjari, Wardia, Waringari, Wo:la, Wola, Woladjangari, Wolmardai, Woolaja, Wula, Wulu, Worrorran

See also Walajangarri K24 and Walar K45. According to the Kimberley Handbook, it is likely that Walajangarri K24 is an alternative name of Worla(ja) (K43).

Glasgow (PMS 656) also reports that Walar K45, Wula, Wuladja, and Wuladjangari K24 apparently refer to the same language.

In this database, Worla, Walajangarri K24 and Walar K45 are treated as the same language, and Walajangarri K24 and Walar K45 are subsumed under Worla.

Note that Capell (1966, K8) lists Andidja K23, Gwini K36, Walar K45 (that is, Wolar K43), Jeidji K32, Manungu K46 and Wembria K31 as all closely related dialects from the area watered by Forrest River and inland towards Drysdale River. However, this location appears to apply to only Gwini and Jeitji. Both McGregor (1993) and Tindale (1974) give the location of Worla as further to the south.

McGregor and Rumsey (2009:2) say that 'Guwij and Wurla are alternative names for a single variety', and indeed Rumsey (1982:viii) mentions 'speakers of the easterly 'Guwidj' or 'Ola' dialect' of Ungarinjin K18.

McGregor (1988:110) includes Worla in the Worrorran language group.



  • Glasgow, David. Report [to A.I.A.S.] on surveys of languages and dialects of the north - east Kimberleys, typescript. (PMS 656).
  • Harvey, Mark. 2008. Non-Pama-Nyungan Languages: land-language associations at colonisation. AILEC 0802.
  • Hudson, Joyce. 1996 [1987]. Languages of the Kimberley region. Broome, W.A.: Catholic Education Office.
  • McGregor, William. 1993. Gunin/Kwini. München: Lincom Europa.
  • McGregor, William. 1998. Handbook of Kimberley languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics C-105.
  • McGregor, William, and Alan Rumsey. 2009. Worrorran revisited: the case for genetic relations among languages of the Northern Kimberley region of Western Australia: Pacific Linguistics 600. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • Oates, William J., and Lynette F. Oates. 1970. A revised linguistic survey of Australia: Australian Aboriginal Studies 33, Linguistic Series 12. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Tindale, Norman B. 1974. Aboriginal tribes of Australia: their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits, and proper names. Berkeley: University of California Press/Canberra: Australian National University Press.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Mouth of Forrest River (Oates & Oates 1970:46). Eastward limit: Western side of the Tier and Saw Ranges. Speewah Mine associated with Wurla, but close to the eastern limit of Wurla. The middle part of the Chamberlain River valley was associated with Wurla.The upper part, from about the level of Wilson River, was associated with Gija. Northward limit: Western side of the Tier Ranges thence to about Mt Edith. The Cockburn Ranges, Emma Gorge, and Home Valley homestead were not associated with Wurla. Wurla came to just south of Home Vally homestead. Bindoola Creek drainage was associated with Wurla. Wurla affiliations were all south of the road which goes along the southern side of the Cockburn Ranges. Durack River homestead and Ellenbrae Creek drainage were associated with Wurla. Westward limit: Ellenbrae Creek drainage. Boxhole Yard on Chapman River, but Gibb River homestead associated with Ngarinyin. Boxhole Yard (Harris Ranges), Middle Yard (Harris Ranges), but most of upper Hann drainage associated with Ngarinyin. Southward limit: Philips Range, Wood Yard on Wood River, but Red Lake Yard, Tableland homestead, Top Chamerlain Yard all associated with Gija (Harvey ASEDA 802).

Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988): 

Wajarri (A39 ) in Handbook of Kimberley Languages (1988).

5.13 Worla(ja) / Wula / Ola

Names of the language and different spellings that have been used:
Ola (Tindale, Black, Black & Walsh), Wula (AIAS, SIL), Wulu (Oates & Oates), Woorla(ja) (Hudson & McConvell)
It is likely that this is an alternative name for Walajangarri (see previous section), which presumably has the suffix -ngarri meaning 'with' or 'having' attached. Here Worla(ja) and Walajangarri are given separate sections because they are treated as different in the AIAS tribal index. (See also section 3.7 on Doolboong vs. Doolboongarri.)
Classification of the language:
Worrorran family, Ungarinyinic group
Identification codes:
Oates 1973: (not included) (Oates & Oates 1970: 7Kr
Capell: (not included)
Present number and distribution of speakers:
Mainly in Wyndham and surrounding stations and communities, including Fork Creek, and Oombulgari. No estimates known of number of speakers.
People who have worked intensively on the language:
No one
Practical orthography:
Word lists:
Hudson & McConvell (1984), SIL (1971)
Textual material:
Grammar or sketch grammar:
Material available on the language:
Summer Institute of Linguistics. 1971. AIAS word list for N.E. Kimberleys survey: Wula language. AIAS tapes A2184,2185.
Language programme:
Language learning material:
Literacy material:

McGregor, William. 1988 Handbook of Kimberley Languages. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. © Author.

AIATSIS gratefully acknowledge William McGregor for permission to use his material in AUSTLANG.

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 1-10 2
Manuscript note: 
not available
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Wororan     Ngarinyin [Wurla] Ngarinyin [dialects: Wilawila, Wolyamidi, Guwidj, Wurla (Worla, Worlaja, Wula, Ola, Walar, Wuladja, Wuladjangari)]
Dixon (2002)   NORTH KIMBERLEY AREAL GROUP   Waladja Ungarinjin Rumsey (1982a) further dialects: Guwidj (Orla), Waladja, Ngarnawu, Andadjin, Munumburru, Wolyamidi, Waladjangarri
Wurm (1994)          
Walsh (1981)          
Oates (1975)       Wulu  
Wurm (1972)          
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966)