A NSW Government website

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.


An Aboriginal group are seated for a cultural performance

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 New South Wales once performed koala increase ceremonies to build koala numbers during breeding season and in times of extreme weather.


Aboriginal man in paint performs cultural customs

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.

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.