Yo. Dhuwal dhu ŋarra gurrupan dhäwu miny'tjipuy, miny'tji ŋalitjalaŋ, Dhuwa ga Yirritja miny'tji. Miny'tji ŋayi ŋalitjalaŋ ga ŋorra, gamunuŋgu, djalkiri, wäŋaŋur mala ŋarakaŋur, ga bulu ŋayi ŋuli miny'tji buku-law'maram ŋali bäpurruŋur, ga bulu ŋayi miny'tji ga ŋorra ŋunha manikayŋur ŋalitjalaŋ. Dhuwaliyi mala ŋalitjilaŋ ḻuku miny'tji ŋunhi ŋali ŋuli buku-dhawaṯmaram. Ga yindi ŋunha Ŋärraŋur. Dhuwaŋur Yirritjaŋur Ŋärraŋur, miny'tji ŋayi ga ŋorra. Ga nhämuny' ŋalitjalaŋ riŋgitj miny'tji wäŋaŋur mala, ŋunhi ŋalitjalaŋ ga miny'tji maŋutji-lakaram ŋalitjalaŋ Dhuwaw ga Yirritjaw. Balanya. Warrpam' ŋayi dhuwali, ŋayi ga gungam miny'tjinydja wanha ŋayi garramat gäpaḻaḻyu ga ŋayatham ŋanyan maŋandhu Dhuway ga Yirrijtay.

Dhuwali ŋalitjalaŋ miny'tjiny. Ga ŋunha munathay. Balanya. Dhuwaw ga Yirritjaw.


Our Colours

I am about to tell a story about miny'tji, our miny'tji, Dhuwa and Yirritja miny'tji. Our miny'tji is here, ancestral designs, ancestral foundation, in lands, and also miny'tji lies across clan groups, and lies in our songlines. Such ancestral miny'tji is what we enact (we make ancestral past appear in the present).

There in the big ceremony, Ŋärra, in Dhuwa and Yirritja Ŋärra, miny'tji is there. Miny'tji is associated with our sacred, ancestral places, that is what the miny'tji shows us, Dhuwa and Yirritja. Like that. All miny’tji is held, where miny'tji is in the water, in the land, or in the clouds up above, Dhuwa and Yirritja clouds hold it.

This is our miny'tji. And the earth holds and protects it, it’s just like that. For Dhuwa and Yirritja.


This wordlist has been complied by Fiona Taylor and Helen Rrikawuku using R. D. Zorc, "Yolŋumatha Dictionary", 1986 and Melanie Wilkinson's "Djambarrpuyl)u: A Yolŋu Variety of Northern Australia", 1991.

Illustrations by Cynthia Venn (c1970s) and Andie Clements (2021).

First published in 1993.

Digitised and reprinted in 2021.

Ŋurruŋuny Bäpa Sheppy ga miyalk nhanŋu marrtji Miliŋinbilil dhuŋgarray 1930'-thu. Ga balanyamirriy ŋayi gan wuŋuḻi'  märraŋal yolŋu-yulŋuny ga wäŋa malany.

Dharrwany mirithirrnydja ŋunhiyi wuŋuḻi' mala dhuyun yurr bäydhin. Ga wiripuny mala ŋunhiliyi wuŋuḻi'  yaka manymak nhänharaw miyalkurruwurruŋ ga djamarrkiḻiy' yaka ŋunhiny mala wuŋuḻi' dhuwal  djorra'ŋur.

Ga wiripuny, dhuwal wuŋuḻi'ŋur limurruŋ ŋaḻapaḻmirr mala. Walalnydja Galpakalpay ga wiripuwurr mala ḏirramuwurryu dharaŋan walalany wuŋuḻi'ŋur, ga wiripuny walal yakan dharaŋan.

Ga dhiyaŋuny wuŋuḻi' ga ḻiya-marrtjinyamaram limurruŋgalaŋawal ŋaḻapaḻmirriwal.

Djämany linyu dhuwal yäku ga mälk ga bäpurru ga yol walalaŋ gurruṯumirr. Ga bäydhi mak linyu ga bawalany wukurri. Ga balanya.

Nyarrwanyarrwa Goṉḏarra-wuŋ

Before coming to Galiwin'ku the Reverend Shepherdson and his wife began at Milingimbi in the 1930s. In those early years he took photographs of people and places. 

Many of those photographs were taken at ceremonies but the ones in this book are suitable for everyone to see. 

There are others which cannot be seen by women and children and they do not appear in this book.

These photographs are of our own people. Galpakalpa  and other old men  recognise many of the people, but others they do not recognise.

These photographs are to help us remember our old people. Next to the photos we have written the name, subsection, tribe and relationship to a living person. Please excuse any mistakes.

Michael Cooke

Dhuwal guḏurrku! Nhäthinya guḏurrkuw buŋgulnydja? 
This is a brolga! What does brolga's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal boṉba'! Nhäthinya boṉbaw' buŋgulnydja? 
This is a butterfly! What does butterfly's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal birrkpirrk! Nhäthinya birrkpirrkku buŋgulnydja? 
This is a plover! What does its plover's look like?

Dhuwal dhuḏuthuḏu! Nhäthinya dhuḏuthuḏuw buŋgulnydja? 
This is a tawny frog mouth! What does tawny frog mouth's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal waŋgany! Nhäthinya waŋganygu buŋgulnydja? 
This is a dog! What does dog's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal marurrumburr! Nhäthinya marurrumburr's buŋgulnydja? 
This is a cat! What does cat's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal wurrpaṉ'! Nhäthinya wurrpaṉ'ku buŋgulnydja? 
This is an emu! What does emu's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal mäṉa'! Nhäthinya mäṉaw' buŋgulnydja? 
This is a shark! What does shark's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal bäru! Nhäthinya bäruw buŋgulnydja? 
This is a crocodile! What does crocodile's ceremony look like?

Dhuwal ŋerrk! Nhäthinya ŋerrkku buŋgulnydja? 
This is a cockatoo! What does cockatoo's ceremony look like?

Dhuwandja dhäwu gungapuy, wanhal nhe dhu gunga maḻŋ'maram ga miny'tji mala gungaw. Dhuwal mala miny'tjiny gungawnydja gam':


yellow - buthalak


red - miku

Watharr buyu 

white - watharr

This story is about where you find pandanus and dyes for making baskets.

These are the colours for pandanus: 

Guṉinyi - Yellow (Great Morinda, Morinda Citrifola) 

Yiriŋaniŋ - Red (Red Stemmed Lily, Haemodorum Brevicaulo) 

Watharr - White or Natural

This is Ḏatam's  mother. Her name is Raŋan.
This is Ḏatam's father. His name is Ḏawu.
One morning they all went and helped mother go and get bark for painting. They drove for a long time until they came to a place by a river.
Mother and father chopped a big long bark.
Nhawi barked at something in the bush.
Ḏatam helped mother chop a small bark.
Here they are both putting bark on the fire and then placing it to make it flat.
The next day her mother started painting a story on bark. Ḏatam did the same on a little bark.
The following day they saw white footprints made with white clay all over the floor and on the bark, a dog’s footprints! “Hey! Look what Nhawi’s done!” they all shouted.
“Wow, it’s lovely isn’t it?” said Ḏatam. She looked at her own bark. “I will finish Nhawi's painting.”
And she did.