Arabana (Arabunna)

Arabana language is traditionally associated with Kati Thanda (Western Lake Eyre region). It shares many features with other Lakes languages. Arabana people were heavily impacted by pastoralism and major colonial infrastructure developments such as the Australian Overland Telegraph Line (1872) and the railway line linking Adelaide and Oodnadatta (opened in 1891, and later extended to Alice Springs in 1929).

Information about classical Arabana society was recorded by Spencer & Gillen (1899). Detailed linguistic recording was not done until the 1960s and later published by Luise Hercus (1994). Greg Wilson also undertook considerable research in the 2000’s with Arabana people to develop an Arabana teaching and learning curriculum.

In 1994 ‘A Grammar of the Arabana-Wangkangurru Language’ was published by Luise Hercus. It is available for download here and via Pacific Linguistics out of print archive. In 2004, an Arabana R-10 Teaching Framework was published by the Department of Education and Children’s Services as a result of the work of Greg Wilson.

Drawing on these resources and working with Arabana people, the Mobile Language Team in association with the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation is currently developing online language learning resources to service contemporary Arabana peoples.

Today, most Arabana people live off-country in centres as widespread as: Adelaide, Pt Augusta, Marree, Coober Pedy, Oodnadatta, Alice Springs and Darwin.

Language Learning with Arabana

The Mobile Language Team in cooperation with the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation have prepared online resources to hear and read Arabana words and sentences in a lessons and learning format.

These materials have resulted from the hard work of many Arabana people who contributed their wisdom and knowledge to help preserve the Arabana language for future generations. These materials appear on this site by courtesy, and with permission of, the Arabana Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of all Arabana people.

AIATSIS id : L.13


Anna Creek tribe (a group), Arabana (used by AIATSIS & SIL), Arabuna, Arapani, Arapina (Iliaura is a modern pronunciation), Arebana, Arrabonna, Arrabunna, Arubbinna, Jendakarangu (a group near Coward Springs), Ngarabana, Nulla, Peake tribe (a group), Rabuna (an aberrant Aranda pronunciation), Urabuna, Urabunna, Urapuna, Urroban, Wangarabana ( = talk or speech), Wangarabuna, Wangarabunna, Wongkurapuna, Wongpurapuna, Wonkurabana, Yendakarangu.


The above map is based upon the Horton Indigenous Map of Australia © Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS, and Auslig/Sinclair, Knight, Merz, 1996. The full map is available on the AIATSIS website. The locations of the languages of SA, as stated on the this website are not intended for Land Claim use, and are an approximate guide only. Individual language project locations are based on information from publicly available MILR (ILS) documents.