The Yidiny (also spelt Yidindj, Yidinji or Yidiñ),[a] are an Aboriginal Australian people in Far North Queensland. Their language is the Yidiny language.


Main article: Yidiny language

The last fluent speakers of Yidiny were Tilly Fuller (d. October 1974), George Davis (b.1919), Dick Moses (b.1898) and his sister Ida Burnett of White Rock.[1][2] A substantial part of the language has been analysed and recorded by Robert M. W. Dixon.[3]


The Yidiny lands were in lowland rainforest areas,[4] stretching from Yarrabah down to the south, where their borders met those of the Ngajanji and the Wanyurr. To their north were the coastal Djabugay people. In Norman Tindale's calculation, the Yidiny tribal lands were estimated to cover some 400 square miles (1,000 km2). These included the areas of Deeral north to Gordonvale and Cairns. Their inland extension ran as far as Lake Barrine. Their eastern boundary was on the crest of the Prior Range.[5]

Today, there are four traditional owner groups representing the peoples of the Cairns region. One of these groups represents the Yidinji clans, and comprises Gimuy Walubara Yidinji, Dulabed Malanbarra and Yidinji, Mandingalbay Yidinji and Wadjanbarra Tableland Yidinji.[6]

History of contact


The Yidiny, along with many other tribal people in the tropical rainforest areas from Cairns to Ingham, and the Atherton Tableland were cleared off their land to enable the establishment of cattle stations and sugar cane plantations. Jack Kane participated in some massacres as a youth and recalled, in 1938 one episode alone in 1884, during a week-long campaign to round up the tribes, Queensland police and native troopers, encircled a Yidiny camp at what became known as Skull Pocket, several miles north of Yungaburra. At dawn, a shot was fired from one side into the camp to make them scatter, and then as they rushed into the ambushing forces elsewhere, were shot down. The native police then stabbed or smashed the brains of the children.[7] One group of the Yidiny, broke off from the rest of the tribe in the early period of settlement, and after shifting to the area of the present-day Redlynch asserted a distinctive identity by calling themselves the Djumbandji. This segment took over a part of Buluwai territory.[5]

Starting around 1910, even those who remained in the area of white settlement were the object of a Queensland Government policy of shifting them into the Anglican mission at Yarrabah on the Cape Grafton peninsula.[8] As each tribe was weakened by dispersal and fragmentation, the elders formed a counter-plan in the 1920s to organise themselves into a more viable political unit, in the shape of a macro-tribe, but the merger failed to take hold, given the notable linguistic differences between groups.[1]


Main article: Sovereign Yidindji Government

In 2014, 40 members of the Yidiny people, led by Murrumu Walubara Yidindji (formerly Jeremy Geia) renounced legal ties with Australia to form the Sovereign Yidindji Government, claiming sovereignty over the lands from south of Port Douglas to Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands.[9]

Social organisation

The Yidiny were composed of several Clans, with Norman Tindale (1974) reporting five:[5]

Newer sources list eight:[10]

Alternative names


  1. ^ Though Yidin is often given, the language has a final palatal nasal, not dissimilar to the Spanish ñ (Dixon 2011, p. 211).


  1. ^ a b Dixon 2015, p. 315.
  2. ^ Dixon 1977, pp. 27–29.
  3. ^ Dixon 1977.
  4. ^ Tindale 1974, p. 123.
  5. ^ a b c d Tindale 1974, p. 168.
  6. ^ Wet Tropics Plan.
  7. ^ Bottoms 2013, pp. 217–218.
  8. ^ Dixon 2011, p. 209.
  9. ^ Howden 2021.
  10. ^ CRC: history & languages.
  11. ^ Gribble 1897, p. 84.