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The Darumbal (occasionally Dharumbal) are the Indigenous Australians that have traditionally occupied Central Queensland, speaking dialects of the Darumbal language. Darumbal people of the Keppel Islands and surrounding regions are sometimes also known as Woppaburra or Ganumi,[1][2] and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.[3] Darumbal people in the Shoalwater Bay area are known as Yetimarla.[4]



Traditional Darumbal land is considered to encompass an estimated 4,000 sq. miles around most of coastal Central Queensland, running from Arthur Point at Shoalwater Bay to Yeppoon, and taking in the mouth of Fitzroy River and Keppel Islands. From Keppel Bay they extended inland to Boomer Range, and Marlborough, Yaamba, Rockhampton, and Gracemere.[5]


Ethnologue classifies the Darumbal language (sometimes known as Bayali) as "extinct".[6] Technically, Bayali was quite distinct from Darumbal, sharing, according to Dixon's analysis, no more than 21% of its basic word stock with Darumbal.[7]


The Darumbal comprised some 13 hordes, though one of these was described as belonging to the Ningebal tribe. One extinct branch of the group, the Warabal, may have dwelt around the foot of the Boomer Range.[5]


With the arrival of European settlers in the region, some Darumbal were tolerated as fringe communities of the new settlements, but most were systematically removed to make way for pastoral development.[8] According to some estimates, "between 1865 and 1902 the population of the Keppel Islands suffered a substantial reduction of 75 to 80 per cent".[1] In one incident alone on July 1865 alone, native troopers ambushed a Darumbal ceremonial gathering outside Rockhampton, near Samuel Birkbeck's Glenmore Station and shot dead 18 Aborigines, after nearby settlers expressed worries about the presence of natives in their area. After the massacre, they then set fire to the corpses.[9][10]

Native titleEdit

Darumbal Native Title claims and land use issues have become prominent in recent years. In 2001, a claim was made to the National Native Title Tribunal,[11] and in 2007 137 hectares at Mount Wheeler were handed over to the tribe.[12] There have been several controversies regarding fisheries licensing and conservation.[13][14] Darumbal people have been granted limited access to the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.[15]

Although the language is extinct, some Darumbal words live on in place names in Central Queensland. The town of Coowonga is named after a Darumbal man famous for saving the life of politician King O'Malley in the late 19th century.[16] The Rockhampton suburb of Nerimbera is named for a Darumbal word meaning 'where the mountains meet the river'.[17]

Some Darumbal wordsEdit

  • Gudamulli is a Darumbal greeting, meaning 'hello'.[18]



  1. ^ a b Rowland 2004, p. ?.
  2. ^ AIATSIS 2005.
  3. ^ CQU 2006.
  4. ^ Bauman 2011.
  5. ^ a b Tindale 1974.
  6. ^ 'Bayali' Ethnologue
  7. ^ Terrill 2002, p. 15.
  8. ^ Gumoo Woojabuddee Section Fact Sheets Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  9. ^ Kiernan 2007, p. 307.
  10. ^ Evans 2012, p. 156.
  11. ^ Deadline Approaches on Darumbal Native Title Claim National Native Title Tribunal
  12. ^ Mt Wheeler handed over to traditional Darumbal owners in historic ceremony Queensland Cabinet Office
  13. ^ Wratten, Adam Darumbal Man Appeals $2000 fine The Morning Bulletin, 12 February 2010
  14. ^ Wratten, Adam Hunter Rejects Dugong Ban Call The Morning Bulletin, 16 September 2011
  15. ^ Indigenous Control of Indigenous Heritage Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage
  16. ^ Elder Adoption Ceremony Coowonga State School
  17. ^ Nerimbera Football Club
  18. ^ Conway-Dodd 2015.


External linksEdit