C1: Wirangu

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)
Wirrongu, Wirrung, Wirrunga, Wirangga, Naljara (Kokata name), Wanbiri ('sea coast' [people] of the Kokata), Jilbara (means 'southerners,' name applied by Kokata), Windakan (name applied also to the language of the Ngalea), Wangon (said to be language name but is derogatory, ['kona] = feces; one area of their country with yellowish soil is called Tjara which has a similar meaning), Ngoleiadjara (name applied by Jangkundjara), Tidni and Hilleri (names applied by Pangkala and Kujani), Tidnie, Titnie, Willeuroo (name said given by Pangkala: Wiljaru = west), Yilrea (another version of Hilleri), Nonga (means 'man').
O'Grady et al (1966)
Wirrung, Wirrunga, Warrangoo
Other sources
Weerung (C.Sullivan in Tindale 1927), Wirongu (Bates 1918), Wanggan (P.T. Richards in Taplin 1879:103), Yulbara (Pastor Wiebusch), Julbari Wonnga, (Bates 1918:161), Yulbara wonga, (Bates), Ulbarara (Bates), Youlbara (Bolam), Willuro (Howitt 1904:47), Willeuroo (Bedford), Wilyaru (Elkin 1976:218), Kartawongulta (Clode in Taplin 1879:102), Nhangga (Limb in Tindale 1925-28), Titnie (Richards in Taplin 1879:103), Tidni, Hilleri, (Howitt 1904:47), Hillery (James Bryant), Yilrea (Tindale 1974:219), Illarie (Mathew in Elkin 1976:218), Ngadha Wangga (Bates 1918:161), Ngadhu wangga, Warna-biri, Wambira [Hercus 1999]
Hilleri, Jilbara, Naljara, Ngoleiadjara, Nonga, Tidni, Tidnie, Titnie, Wanbiri, Wangon, Warrangoo, Willeuroo, Windakan, Wirangga, Wirongu, Wirrongu, Wirrung, Wirrunga, Yilrea, Weerung, Wanggan, Yulbara, Julbari Wonnga, Yulbara wonga, Ulbarara, Youlbara, Willuro, Wilyaru, Kartawongulta, Nhangga, Hillery, Illarie, Ngadha Wangga, Ngadhu wangga, Warna biri, Wambira

The Mobile Language Team describe Wirangu as closely related to Barngarla L6 and Nawu L2; and refer to borrowing between Wirangu and Kokatha C3 (a Western Desert language) due to living in close proximity. The Team defines two Wirangu dialects: the Gawler Ranges dialect and the western dialect, which is used today.

Simpson and Hercus describe Wirangu as an outlier member of the Thura-Yura L63 sub-group of Pama-Nyungan. Other members include Kaurna L3; Ngadjuri L5; Nukunu L4; Narangga L1; Barngarla L6; Adnyamathana L10; Nauo L2 and Kuyana L9. Wirangu has some differences from the sub-group, which Simpson and Hercus suggest are not genetic, but the result of profound but recent changes under the influence of Western desert languages (2004:179).

  • Hercus, Luise. 1999. A grammar of the Wirangu language from the west coast of South Australia. Canberra : Pacific Linguistics.
  • Mobile Languages Team. viewed May 2016. http://www.mobilelanguageteam.com.au/languages/wirangu
  • Simpson, J & L Hercus. 2004. Thura-Yura as a subgroup, in (Bowern & Koch eds) Australian Languages : classification and the comparative method. Amsterdam/Philadelphia : John Benjamins.
  • Tindale, Norman. 1974. Tribal Boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Canberra: Division of National Mapping, Department of National Development.
State / Territory: 
Location information: 

The Mobile Languages Team locate Wirangu on the far west coast of South Australia, east of Mirning A9 language, south of Kokatha C3 language, and west of Nawu L2 and Barngarla L6 languages. In modern times Wirangu people live in many places including Yalata, Ceduna, and Koonibba.

Coast between Head of Bight (White Well), Cape Blanche, and Streaky Bay; inland to Ooldea, Kokatha, and Kondoolka. In earliest historic times they were contracting their boundaries southward before Kokata people. Their earliest remembered boundary is shown. By 1850 they had lost access to the area north of latitude 31 °. A native water at Putjukai (132°36'E x 30°27'S) is still remembered as a Wirangu water once well within their territory. Pi:la at Lake Bring also was in their traditions a Wirangu water. Ooldea was the dominant drought relief water used by all surrounding tribes within a radius of 200 miles (over 300 km.) (Tindale 1974).

Luise Hercus, John Platt, Geoffrey O'Grady, Hale & O'Grady
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 Less than 20 pages 1
Grammar Small grammar (100-200 pages) 3
Audio-visual More than 10 3
Manuscript note: 
tape transcription/field note available

Hercus, Luise Anna. 1998. A grammar of the Wirangu language from the west coast of South Australia. Pacific Linguistics: C150. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics


Hercus, Luise Anna. 1998. A grammar of the Wirangu language from the west coast of South Australia. Pacific Linguistics: C150. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics

Source Family Group Sub-group Name Relationship
Ethnologue (2005) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wirangu Wirangu  
Dixon (2002)       Wirangu Wirangu Hercus (1999) possible further dialect: Nhawu
Wurm (1994) Pama-Nyungan South-West   Wirangu  
Walsh (1981) Pama-Nyungan South-West Wati/Western Desert Wirangu  
Oates (1975) Pama-Nyungan Southern Western Desert Type Njangga Wirangu  
Wurm (1972) Pama-Nyungan Southwest (or Nyungic) Nyangga Wirangu  
O'Grady, Voegelin and Voegelin (1966) Pama-Nyungan Southwest Nangga Wirangu