The Fitzroy River Valley is home to 5 tribes or language groups. They are Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Nyikina, Walmajarri and Wangkatjungka.
Bunuba country is a land of ranges, rivers and grassy plains. The rugged landscape of the King Leopold Ranges to the north forms a natural border to the country of the Bunuba, Ngarinyin and Unggumi people.
Bunuba country extends from the township of Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region of Western Australia north along the Fitzroy River to Jijidu (Dimond Gorge), and follows Miluwindi (King Leopold Ranges) to Napier Range in the west. It includes Bandilngan (Windjana Gorge) and Tunnel Creek national parks. The southern extreme extends from Malarabah (Erskine Range) to Dawadiya (Trig Hill) near Fitzroy Crossing, and includes Danggu (Geike Gorge).
It takes in the cattle stations Yarranggi (Leopold Downs), Yuwa (Fairfield) and Miluwindi (Milliwindie), which are now owned by Bunuba Inc, and Gurang.ngadja (Brooking Springs).
Gooniyandi country extends from Fitzroy Crossing to the vicinity of Margaret River Station in the east, north to the King Leopold ranges and south towards the Great Sandy Desert. It covers a varied landscape from limestone ranges to floodplains. It includes Birndiwa (Mt Huxley), Mimbi (Mimbi Caves), Maanyjoowa (Margaret Gorge), sections of Margaret River, Louisa River, Mary River and Christmas Creek, as well as many smaller creeks and billabongs such as Jiliyardi (Jiliyardie Waterhole) and Goorri (Coorie Billabong).
Today Gooniyandi people live in a number of communities including Bayulu, Gillarong, Muludja, Joy Springs, Ngalingkadji, Mimbi, Galeru Gorge, Kupartiya, Moongardie, Gananyi, Yiyili, Pull-out Springs, and Koonjie as well as the townships of Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek. Gooniyandi people own and run the pastoral leases of Mt Pierre, Bohemia Downs and Louisa Downs.
Yarrangi Gooniyandi Thangarndi Gooniyandi-English Dictionary, Kimberley Language Resource Centre 2016.
Nyikina people identify themselves as yimardoowarra, meaning people who belong to the Mardoowarra: the lower region of the Fitzroy River.
Nyikina people are the Yimardoowarra people, the people of the Lower Fitzroy River, in the remote West Kimberley region of Western Australia. For thousands of years Nyikina people have lived in this region and our culture is still vibrant today in our stories, ceremonies, songs and dances.
The Walmajarri people traditionally lived in the Great Sandy Desert to the south of the Kimberley. Subsequent events took them to cattle stations, town and missions scattered over a wide area. Current communities with a substantial Walmajarri in the Fitzroy Valley are:
- Mindi Rardi
Walmajarri - English Dictionary, Summer Institute of Linguistics Darwin 1990
Wagnkatjungka is a desert region language group.
A land of vast salt lakes and steep red sand dunes. When people began to leave the desert, the Wangkatjungka people made the long trek to Bulliluna station and then on to Christmas Creek Station and the emerging town of Fitzroy Crossing.
The Wagnkatjungka language is now spoken at several places in the Fitzroy Valley. There are speakers in the town of Fitzroy Crossing, at Kapartiya, at Kurungal and at Ngumparn on Christmas Creek Station. Some speakers are also at other communities such as Wirrumanu, Malarn and Yakanarra.
The language has had to adapt to its new surroundings (the speakers have to usewords from the river languages, and other desert languages) – but despite modern changes, Wangkatjungka remains a language that reflects the speakers’ attachment to their desert homeland.
Ngaapa Wangka Wangkajunga, this language is Wangkajunga, Kimberley Language Resource Centre 2001.