Aboriginal languages of South Australia.[a]

The Wirangu are an Aboriginal Australian people of the Western coastal region of South Australia.


Daisy Bates stated that the Wirangu ethnonym was composed of two words: wira (cloud) and wonga (speech).[1]


Wirangu is usually classified as genetically related to the Thura-Yura language family. Early ethnographers, such as R. H. Mathews stated that the Barngarla, Nauo and Wirangu peoples were "practically the same people in language and customs".[2]


In Norman Tindale's estimation, the Wirangu were assigned an original tribal land extending over 21,500 square miles (56,000 km2), embracing the coastal area between Head of Bight, Cape Blanche and Streaky Bay, with an inland extension running north to places like Ooldea, Kokatha, and Kondoolka.[3]


See also: Australian Aboriginal astronomy § Pleiades

In ancestral times a large mother snake travelled down from the west to Juldi'kapi. From there it was followed by two men (the Wati Kutjara)[b] who wished to kill it. They chased the snake south-east to Pedinga water-hole (Pedinga'kapi, thirty-five miles south-east of the Ooldea Soak). This granite water-hole was the snake's camp. The natural basin-shaped depressions in the rock, averaging three feet in diameter, are said to be the nests of snakes. Here the Wati Kutjara speared the snake, wounding it severely. They left it thus, thinking that it would soon die, and returned to the west. The snake, however, managed to crawl on a little distance (about two miles) to the south to an ochre pan, named Mul'tan'tu. Here she rested, leaving the red, yellow and white ochre deposits found there. The red ochre symbolizes the blood shed by the snake, the white ochre the excreta; while the yellow ochre is the urine. The snake left this clay-pan and continued on to the north-east and then westwards to her camp.[5]

History of contact

Already on the eve of contact with whites, the Wirangu were being pressured out of part of their traditional territory by the movements of the Kokata.[3]

Alternative names

Source: Tindale 1974, p. 219


  1. ^ Tribal boundaries, after Tindale (1974), adapted from Hercus (1999).
  2. ^ two ancestral heroes, the Wati Kutjara (wati, man; kutjara, two[4])


  1. ^ Bates 1918, p. 161.
  2. ^ Mathews 1900, p. 79.
  3. ^ a b Tindale 1974, p. 219.
  4. ^ Berndt 1941, p. 7.
  5. ^ Berndt 1941, p. 17.