W39: Kariyarra

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)
Kariera, Karriara, Karriarra, Kyreara, Kaierra, Gariera, Minjiburu:, Minjubururu, Minjirbururu (Kariara name for an ancestral people of Port Hedland who came from the south), Kudjunguru ('coast dwellers,' applied to both the Ngarla and the Kariara by the Njamal), Paljarri.
O'Grady et al (1966)
Karriara, Karriarra, Kyreara, Kaierra
Other sources
Kyeara [Dixon 2011:34]
Kariera, Kudjunguru, Kariara, Gariera, Gariyarra, Kaierra, Karriara, Karriarra, Kyeara, Kyreara, Minjiburu, Minjirbururu, Minjubururu, Paljarri, Minjiburu:

Wangka Maya (2001:7) notes that Kariyarra is closely related to Ngarluma W38 and, according to a 'purely linguistic classification' (such as Dixon (1980), Dench (1982), and Thieberger (1993)), they are dialects of the same language.

Note, though, that Wangka Maya and Dixon (1980) treat Kariyarra as a dialect 'of' Ngarluma while Dench says Kariyarra is a dialect 'with' Ngarluma and Theiberger says they are 'dialects of the same language'.

Note also that Dixon (2002) treats them both as members of the Pilbara/Ngayarta areal group, along with Nhuwala W30, Martuthunira W35, Panyjima A53, Yinjtjiparnti/Kurrama W37 / W36, Tjurruru W33, Palyku A55, Nyamal A58 and Ngarla A48.


  • Dench, Alan Charles. 1982. The development of an accusative case marking pattern in the Ngayarda languages of Western Australia. Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 2, no. 1. (S 40.1/3)
  • Dixon, R. M. W. 1980. The languages of Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dixon, Sally. 2011. How to read and write Pilbara languages. South Hedland: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
  • Sutton, Peter. 1995. Country: Aboriginal boundaries and land ownership in Australia. Canberra: Aboriginal History Inc.
  • Thieberger, Nicholas. 1993. Handbook of Western Australian Aboriginal languages south of the Kimberley region: Pacific Linguistics C-124. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  • 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.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2001. Karriyarra topical wordlist and accompanying picture book. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
  • Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. 2001. Kariyarra wordlists & sketch grammar. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

The Kariyarra people originally lived around the Port Hedland region, from Port Hedland west to Sherlock River and south down to the Yule River. They were driving inland when white settlers invaded the area, and subsequently many coastal terms have been lost to current speakers (Wangka Maya 2001:7).

On the Peeawah, Yule, and Turner rivers and east to Port Hedland. Their western boundary, on divide between Peeawah and Ballaballa creeks extended south to foot of the scarp of the Hamersley tableland in the headwaters of the Yule River; at Mungaroon Range, Turner River area north of Wodgina, at Yandeyarra, and east to a line joining McPhee Hill, Tabba Tabba Homestead, and the mouth of Petermarer Creek 10 miles (16 km.) east of Port Hedland. The area east of Turner River was seldom visited for fear of the Njamal. The Indjibandi are claimed as being inland Kariara, who became separated by reason of their accept ance of the rite of circumcision. Kariara and Indjibandi were at enmity over this in immediately pre-European times. (Tindale 1974).

Kariera were much smaller [than the area on Davis's map] and confined to the coast (Palmer in Sutton 1995:99).

Contemporary location Port Hedland, Roebourne, Yandeyarra, Woodstock (Dixon 2011:34).



Terry Klokeid, von Brandenstein, Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre
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 Small (20-100 pages) 2
Text Collection Small (20-100 pages) 2
Grammar A few articles 1
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
not clear from MURA

Wangka Maya PALC. 2001. Kariyarra wordlists & sketch grammar. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya PALC.


Wangka Maya PALC. 2001. Kariyarra wordlists & sketch grammar. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya PALC. Wangka Maya PALC. 2001. Karriyarra topical wordlist and accompanying picture book. South Hedland, WA: Wangka Maya PALC.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Coastal Ngayarda Kariyarra  
Dixon (2002)   GASCOYNE RIVER TO PILBARA AREAL GROUP Pilbara/Ngayarta areal group Kariyarra (or Kariera or Kudjunguru) Kariyarra (or Kariera or Ninjiburu or Kudjunguru)
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Kariyarra  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Coastal Ngayarda Kariyarra (Kariera)  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Pilbara-Nyungar (Southwest) Coastal Ngayarda Gariera  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Ngayarda Kariera  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Ngayarda Kariera