Aboriginal Languages, Songs and Ceremonies

Language can hold powerful connections to Country. Aboriginal languages embrace all the elements of the Australian landscape – geological, environmental and spiritual.

Place names such as that of Yarrahapinni Mountain near Scotts Head reflect the Gumbaynggirr story of the koala in its meaning ‘koala rolling downhill.’

Many Aboriginal place names have been overwritten by European names or have been lost. But there is a strong movement to revive Aboriginal place names across Australia, in celebration of this rich history of language.

Many First Nations people portray koalas in ceremonies and corroborees, highlighting the relationship between koalas and people.

The Gumbaynggirr people of the Mid North Coast of NSW once performed koala increase ceremonies to build koala numbers during breeding season and in times of extreme weather.

Increase ceremonies were also performed for various other wildlife and often involved calling the appropriate name, retouching cave paintings, or acting out aspects of the animal’s behaviour.

Corroboree – an Aboriginal dance ceremony which may take the form of a sacred ritual or an informal gathering.

Nathan Brennan

Jan McGilchrist

Julie Reid at the gate of her property

Julie Reid


Koalas and The Dreaming

Aboriginal content on these pages has been compiled and reviewed by the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council and Flying Fish Blue.

The term ‘First Nations’ recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the sovereign people of this land. It recognises various language groups as separate and unique sovereign nations.