S49: Bidawal

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)
Birdhawal, Birtowall, Bidwell, Bidwill, Bidwelli, Biduelli, Beddiwell, Maap (['ma:p] = man), Muk-dhang (language name where ['mak] = good and ['õan] = speech), Kwai-dhang (language name given by Krauatungalung means 'rough speech').
O'Grady et al (1966)
Bidwill, Bidwelli, Biduelli, Beddiwell, Birdhawal, Bidwell, Birtowall
Other sources
Birrdhawal (Wafer & Lissarrague 2008:98), Bid.doo.wul (Robinson 1844 in Clark 2000), Bidooal (Robinson 1844 in Clark 2000), Birtowall (Bulmer in Curr 1886-7), Biduelli (Howitt 1904:79), Birdhawal (Mathews 1907), Bida / Brida (Fesl), Bidwilli (Clark 1860:202), Bidwelli (Howitt Papers SLV), Bidwell (Bulmer in Howitt Papers SLV), Beddiwell (Mathews 1898:67), Bida:wa:l (Hercus 1965:202), Maap (Howitt 1904:80), Mawp (Mathews 1907:347), Muk-thang (Dixon 1980, 2002), Mukdhang, Mukthang [Clark 2011:34-5]
Bidhawal, Bidwell, Biduwul, Beddiwell, Bida:wal, Biduelli, Bidwelli, Bidwill, Birdawal, Birdhawal, Birtowall, Kwai dhang, Maap, Muk dhang, Birrdhawal, Bid, doo, wul, Bidooal, Bida, Brida, Bidwilli, Bida:wa:l, Mawp, Muk thang, Mukdhang, Mukthang

Dixon (2002) and Walsh (1981) treat Muk-Thang (S49) as a dialect of Ganai S68.

Clark analysed the primary and secondary sources of information on the boundaries of the Birrdhawal (S49) language and neighbouring Krauatangalung S48 language. He concludes that, contrary to Wesson's (1994, 2000, 2002) work, and supporting Fesl's (1985) and Thompson's (1985) findings, 'the Birrdhawal were land-locked and did not have any coastline as a southern boundary', and that 'the strip of coastal land between the Snowy River and Point Hicks or Wingan Inlet' belonged to the Krauatangalung (2011:38-49).

After identifying Birrdhawal's (S49) relationship to Ganai S68 as a central linguistic issue, Clark compiled lexicostatistics on limited available data for Birrdhawal and Ganai (as well as Thawa S52 and Ngarigu S46) 2011:36-38). He found 51 per cent common vocabulary, suggesting either languages in the same subgroup or dialects of the same language. He acknowledges the uncertainty of this analysis, based as it is on such limited data, concurring with Wafer and Lissarrague's conclusions that 'for present purposes we treat it as being distinct from other Victorian Border languages...it is unlikely to be a linguistic isolate, and the evidence suggests that it is most likely related to Kurnai (Ganaay)' (2008:95).

Note that Howitt (1996 1904:79-81) says the Bidawal language is a mixture of Kurnai S68, Ngarigo S46 and 'Murring' (i.e. a Yuin language).


  • Capell, Arthur. 1963. Linguistic survey of Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
  • Clark, Ian. 2005. Aboriginal language areas in Victoria - a reconstruction: a report to Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. Melbourne: Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages.
  • Clark, Ian D. 2011. Birrdhawal language and territory: a reconsideration. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1:34-50.
  • Dixon, R. M. W. 2002. Australian languages: their nature and development: Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Fesl, Eve. 1985. Gunai: a study of the Aboriginal languages of Gippsland based on the nineteenth century materials, Monash University: PhD.
  • Howitt, Alfred William. 1904. The native tribes of south-east Australia. London: Macmillan.
  • Oates, William J., and Lynette F. Oates. 1970. A revised linguistic survey of Australia: Australian Aboriginal Studies 33, Linguistic Series 12. Canberra: AIAS.
  • Thompson, Kym. 1985. A history of the Aboriginal people of east Gippsland: a report to the Land Conservation Council of Victoria. Melbourne: Land Conservation Council.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Walsh, Michael. 1981. Maps of Australia and Tasmania. In Language atlas of the Pacific area Pt 1, eds S. A. Wurm and Shirô Hattori. Canberra: Australian Academy of the Humanities.
  • Wesson, Sue C. 1994. An overview of the sources for a language and clan atlas of eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales. Melbourne: Monash University, Dept. of Geography and Environmental Science, Graduate School of Environmental Science.
  • Wesson, Sue C. 2000. An historical atlas of the Aborigines of eastern Victoria and far south-eastern New South Wales. Melbourne: School of Geography and Environmental Science.
  • Wesson, Sue C. 2002. The Aborigines of eastern Victoria and far south-eastern New South Wales, 1830 to 1910: an historical geography, Monash University: PhD.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

Coast between Green Cape, N.S.W., and Cape Everard (Point Hicks); inland to Delegate, N.S.W., and on headwaters of Cann and Bern rivers, chiefly in rain forest and wet sclerophyll country inhospitable to others (Tindale 1974).

The Birrdhawal people are generally associated with the localities of Bendoc, Bondi, Mt Delegate and the head waters of Cann River. (Clark 2011:34).


Janet Mathews, Robert 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 A few articles 1
Audio-visual 1-10 2
Manuscript note: 
not available
Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005)          
Dixon (2002)       Bidhawal Muk-thang (Gaanay, Kurnai, Kunnai) further dialects: Nulit, Thangquai, Bidhawal
Wurm (1994)          
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan Ganay   Bidhawal Muk-Thang [dialects: Muk-Thang (Brabiralung), Thangguai, Bidhawal, Nulit (spoken by the Braiakaulung, Bratauolung, Tatungalung tribes)]
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Kurnic   Birdawal  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Kurnic   Birdawal  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Kurnic   Bidawal