E7: Gumbaynggirr

AIATSIS code: 
AIATSIS reference name: 


ABN name
Kumbainggar language (Previously Gumbaynggir language)
ABS name
Horton name
Ethnologue name
ISO 639-3 code
Tindale name
Thesaurus heading language
Gumbaynggirr language E7
Thesaurus heading (old)
Gumbaynggir / Gumbainggirr language (E7) (NSW SH56-11)
Tindale (1974)
Kumbainggeri, Kumbaingir, Kumbaingeri, Kom-baingheri, Kombinegherry, Kumbangerai, Koombanggary, Koombanggherry, Koombainga, Coombangree, Coombyn-gura, Coombyngara, Coombargaree, Kombinegherry, Gumbai?gar, Gunbai?gar, Gumbaingar, Guinbainggiri, Coombagoree, Gumbanggar, Bellinger tribe, Bellingen tribe, Nimboy (a horde), Woolgoolga (a horde), Orara (name of a river).
O'Grady et al (1966)
Kumbainggeri, Kumbaingeri, Kumbainggiri, Kombaingheri, Koombanggary, Koombangghery, Koombainga, Coombangree, Kombinegherry, Gumbainggar
Other sources
Kombinegherry (Palmer 1884), Coombyngura (JCC 1896), Coombagoree (McDougall 1899), Coombangree (McDougall 1901), Kumbanggerri (Mathews ms), Koombanggaree (Mathews ms), Kumbainggerri (Mathews ms 1903a), Kumbinggeri (Mathews 1910), Kumbangerai (Enright 1939), Kumbanggar (Nekes and Worms 1953), Gumbainggar (Smythe 1948/9 Capell 1963 Hoddinott 1967 Wurm 1972), Kumbainggar (Oates and Oates 1970), Kumbainggir (Tindale 1938), Kumbainggiri (Ryan 1964, Tindale 1974) [Eades 1979:249] Gumbangir [ALRRC]
Gumbaynggir, Kumbainggar, Gumbainggir, Baanbay, Banbai, Gamlamang, Jiegera, Kumbainggiri, Yaygir, Yuungay, Bellingen tribe, Bellinger tribe, Cambanggarie, Coombagoree, Coombangree, Coombargaree, Coombyngara, Coombyngura, Coombyugura, Cumbainggar, Guinbainggiri, Gumbainggirr, Gumbainga, Gumbainggar, Gumbanga, Gumbanggar, Gumbanggeri, Gumbanjaree, Gumbayngir, Gunbainygar, Kombaingheri, Kombinegherry, Koombabgghery, Koombainga, Koombanggary, Koombanggherry, Koombangi, Kumbaingeri, Kumbainggeri, Kumbainggir, Kumbainggirri, Kumbaingir, Kumbangerai, Nimboy, Orara, Woolgoolga, Koombangghery, Kumbanggerri, Koombanggaree, Kumbainggerri, Kumbinggeri, Kumbanggar, Kom baingheri, Coombyn gura, Gumbaigar, Gunbaigar, Gumbaingar, Kumbangar
Sources vary in their descriptions of Gumbaynggirr dialects. According to Mathews (in Smythe, 1948:4) there are no dialects, but Smythe insists that there are at least two, a northern and a southern, evidenced by both a comparison of data and speakers' perceptions. Eades (1979:246) details the four dialects reported across the sources, noting that there is little supporting evidence for them: a northern dialect (Smythe); Ba:nbay E8 in the west (Mathews); Gambalamam E85 on the Dorrigo Plateau (Crowley) and Southern Gumbaynggir (on which Eades' work is based). Morelli's work (Muurbay, 2001) is based on the southern dialect spoken from the Bellinger River to the Nambucca River and relies on the earlier work of Eades (1979). Morelli (Muurrbay 2001:8) indicates there were several dialects of Gumbaynggirr between Nambucca in the south to the Mid-Clarence region in the north, travelling west as far as Guyra on the Tablelands the region of the Baanbay E8 dialect. Nymboidian E98 (related to Baanbay) and the Northern Coastal Gumbaynggir dialects including Magan.girr and the Grafton dialect were also recorded by Laves, along with the Wolgoolga-Nana Glen dialect, with mention of an Orara dialect. Gambalaman E85 was spoken in the Dorrigo region. The place name Guyra is a corruption of gayaar 'white cockatoo'; Dundurrabin is the Gumbayngirr word dandarrbiin 'many stringy barks', which in turn is the basis for Dorrigo, dandarrga 'string bark tree'. Morelli later describes one language with three mutually intelligible dialects which survived white incursions. He describes them as 'Northern Lowlands to be found, for example, at Grafton; Southern (E7), bordered by the Nambucca River; and Nymboidan E98, which graded into the Baanbay E8 of the New England Tablelands that reached to around Guyra and Tingha' (2008:ix). Wafer and Lissarrague interpreting Morelli's 2001 discussion of Gumbaynggirr dialects (Muurrbay 2001), propose five primary dialects: Northern, Middle and Southern, with a Coastal/Inland division for Northern and Middle regions. They later detail further dialects, based on the Muurrbay (2001:7) map, noting the uncertain identity of these with respect to their primary five dialects: Jambiny, Garrigalgay, Dawaalam, Mirragalgi, Yuraarla, Marraambilambari, Gurubida and Budaabang/Budaabangbari (2008:357-8). Given the uncertainty around the number and identity of Gumbaynggirr dialects, only the more commonly reported names are included in the Thesaurus: Baanbay E8, Nymboidan E98 and Gambalamam E85.
  • Eades, Diana. 1979. Gumbaynggir. In Handbook of Australian languages vol. 1, eds R.M.W. Dixon and B. J. Blake, pp. 244-361. Canberra: ANU Press.
  • Smythe, W. E. 1948. Elementary grammar of the Gumbaingar language (North Coast, N.S.W.), Oceania Monograph no. 8. Sydney: The Australian National Research 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.
  • MacPherson, John. 1904. Ngarrabul and other Aboriginal tribes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales v.29, pt.4, 1904 : p.677-684.
  • Muurrbay Language and Culture Co-operative. 2001. A Gumbaynggir Language Dictionary. Canberra : Aboriginal Studies Press.
  • Morelli, Steve. 2008. Gumbaynggirr dictionary & learner's grammar = Gumbaynggirr bijaarr jandaygam, ngaawa gugaarrigam. Nambucca Heads: Muurrbay Aboriginal Language & Culture Co-operative.
  • Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative. 2001. A Gumbaynggir language dictionary = Gumbayngirr bijaarr jandaygam. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies 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.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

... along the north coast of NSW between Nambucca Heads and Grafton. Extend inland as far as the Great Dividing Range (Eades 1979). ... an area of 4,200 square miles extending from Nambucca in the south to the Clarence River in the north, and from the sea coast inland as far as a line from Ebor to Dumpe, with the exception of a small area occupied by the Jeigir between Maclean, Yamba and Wooli (Smythe 1948 - 1950). ... the area from Grafton south to Bowraville and Nambucca Heads (ALRRC) Lower course of Nymboida River and across the range toward Urunga, Coff (Korff) Harbour, and Bellingen; at South Grafton and Glenreagh; along the coast south from near One Tree Point; at Woolgoolga and Nambucca Heads (Tindale 1974). The Nymboi River, Newton Boyd, and south-westerly almost to Wollomombi (Macpherson 1904: 678). [Gumbaynggirr's] territory goes from Nambucca Heads to Red Rock on the coast, then inland north of Grafton on the Clarence River to a western border stretching in an arc from Deepwater and Glen Innes then south to Ben Lomond, Guyra, and Wollomombi. (Morelli 2008:243).


Gumbaynggir language is taught at Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Cooperative at Nambucca Heads and in several schools and pre-schools.

Diana Eades, B. Fillery, W.G. Hoddinott, Gerhardt Laves, W.E. Smythe, Terry Crowley, R.H. Mathews
Indigenous organisations: 

Muurrbay Aboriginal Language & Culture Co-operative

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 Medium (100-200 pages) 3
Text Collection Medium (100-200 pages) 3
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Eades, Diana. 1979. Gumbaynggir. In Handbook of Australian languages vol1, eds. R.M.W. Dixon and B. Blake, 244-361. Canberra; Australian National University Press.

Morelli, Steve. 2008. Gumbaynggirr dictionary and learner's grammar = Gumbaynggirr bijaarr jandaygam, ngaawa gugaarrigam. Nambucca Heads: Muurrbay Aboriginal Language & Culture Co-operative.

Smythe, W.E. 1918. Elementary grammar of the Gumbaingar language (North Coast, N.S.W.). The Oceania Monographs, No. 8. Sydney: The Australian National Research Council.


Muurrbay Aboriginal and Culture Cooperative. 2001. A Gumbaynggir language dictionary = Gumbayngirr bijaarr jandaygam. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. Morelli, Steve. 2008. Gumbaynggirr dictionary and learner's grammar = Gumbaynggirr bijaarr jandaygam, ngaawa gugaarrigam. Nambucca Heads: Muurrbay Aboriginal Language & Culture Co-operative.

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan Gumbaynggaric Gumbainggar Kumbainggar Kumbainggar [dialects: related to Yaygirr]
Dixon (2002)   CENTRAL EAST COAST GROUP Gumbaynggirr/Yaygirr subgroup Gumbaynggirr Gumbaynggirr* Smythe (1948/9), Eades (1979) further dialects: Baanbay, Gambalamam; possibly also Ngambaa
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan Gumbaynggir   Gumbaynggir  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan Gumbaynggiric Gumbaynggir Gumbaynggir Gumbaynggir [dialects: Baanbay, Gambalamam]
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Gumbainggaric Gumbainggar Gumbaynggir  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Gumbainggaric Gumbainggar Gumbainggar  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Kumbainggaric   Kumbainggar