BK Kakadu course 2020

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25 replies
  1. Michael-A
    Michael-A says:

    Hi there,

    My name is Michael and I am completing this course to further assist me with future tour guide opportunities in Kakadu. I recently complete the Kakadu Tour Gudie Knowledge for Guides. I also recently completed the Yolgnu Intro to language and culture through CDU to help when I volunteer at Garma festival.

    This week I learned that the moeities are similar to what I learned in the Yolgnu course and that the Bining name for a crocodile, kinga, is different to the Yolngu, Baru.

    I think practice talking out loud will be key to completing this short course.

  2. Rachel-S
    Rachel-S says:


    My name is Rachel, I’ve just moved to Maningrida (from Canberra) with my husband and two kids. The most common language here is Burarra but there’s no online Burarra course so I thought I might as well give this one a go! (Bininj Gunwok in its various forms is the second-most common language here so still very relevant).

    I don’t know any Bininj Gunwok speakers yet, but I’m hoping doing this course will be a good reason to get introduced to some so that I can practice.

    I’m usually much better at the reading/writing side of language learning so I’m going to challenge myself as much as possible to concentrate on ‘hearing’ and my goal is really to be able to hear the occassional word/phrase in converation.

    • Rachel-S
      Rachel-S says:

      PS – something I learnt this week: I’ve heard Aboriginal people do that repeating-the-pronoun thing when they’re speaking English (“That dog, he lives over there” instead of just “that dog lives over there”), more often than I would use that construction anyway. This makes sense knowing that that’s how their own language is structured.

      • Cathy Bow
        Cathy Bow says:

        Hi Rachel – Maningrida’s an amazing place for multilingualism. I’m sure if you let people know you’re learning Kunwinjku you’ll find people willing to help out – or people wanting to teach you their language!

        It’s interesting when aspects of one language come out in another – it can be a good way to work out what’s happening in someone’s first language

        • Erin-R
          Erin-R says:

          Hi Rachel and Cathy, I lived in Maningrida before I moved to Darwin. There are often Kunwinjku classes held at the art centre on Tuesday or Wednesday night. A great chance to practice and learn… and usually sing a few songs. Enjoy beautiful Maningrida!

  3. Charlee-H
    Charlee-H says:


    I’m Charlee. I want to do this course to see how a polysynthetic language can be taught. I’m interested in seeing how other communities are going about language maintenance / revitalisation. This language has a similar structure to another one I have been working with in a language revival situation, so I’m hoping to pick up some tips for language teaching here.
    Occasionally I meet speakers of Kunwinjku at the hospital where I work as a nurse. I hope this will help us to talk together !

    • Cathy Bow
      Cathy Bow says:

      That’s great Charlee – I hope you get to practise some of your language at work, as well as just observing how the language is being taught. What other language are you learning?

  4. Anja-T
    Anja-T says:

    Hi All
    My name is Anja. I’ve worked in tourism in Kakadu for over twenty years and I have lived in Jabiru for nearly 15 years and my Kunwinjku language skills are still rudimentary. I know a lot of words for plants, animals and things but I still have trouble stringing a sentence together — because I simply haven’t been practicing enough…

    • Cathy Bow
      Cathy Bow says:

      Thanks Anja – the grammar can be tricky but there are some basic things in this course that will help you string together some of the vocabulary you already know.

  5. Doreen-A
    Doreen-A says:

    Hi, my name is Doreen and I recently started working in West Arnhem. I’ve had a chance to travel to various communities in the region and would like to be able to communicate in Kunwinjku, and also learn more about Bininj cultures. I knew that Aboriginal communities have a complex kinship system but didn’t realize that there are several terms for family relations such as uncle or aunt. Now that I’ve had a chance to practice the pronunciation of words several times, I feel more confident about learning the language although it will take a lot of practice before I can construct my own sentences.

    • Cathy Bow
      Cathy Bow says:

      Great to see your enthusiasm Doreen! My experience is that Bininj people are incredibly gracious and patient when we try to use language with them. I encourage you to experiment a bit, and try out what you’re learning.

  6. Jonathan-H
    Jonathan-H says:

    Great to be part of this course. My grandmother and grandfather, Dick and Nell Harris lived in Gunbalanya during 1930-1960’s and began writing some of the first Kunwinjku words down in to biblical text. I think the Dye’s did some too before them. I lived in Gunbalanya on and off between 1968- 1975. I have been back there a couple of times and was adopted back in to my skin family – Nabulanj. My father was Nakodjok. I am to travel back for future trips to visit and get to know my family better.

  7. Mia-D
    Mia-D says:

    Hi I am Mia, I’m taking this course mostly out of interest but I do fly in fly out work from Jabiru and can see many benefits in me learning more of the language than just a word or two here and there from the bininj I work with. I have spent a fair amount of time down in Jawoyn Country (Barunga) where I was given the skin ‘Kalidjan’ (translates to ngal-bulanj in Kunwinjku). Something I found interesting (but also saddening) was the loss of Australian languages on such a large scale.

  8. Jonathan-H
    Jonathan-H says:

    Enjoying the course Cathy Bow… wondering – will we have ongoing access to the whole program after the 4 weeks? Also, I am having trouble determining the different kinds of birds from the video word books- we may get in to that in the next module. Cheers.

    • Cathy Bow
      Cathy Bow says:

      Not sure about the answer to your first question Jonathan – will look into how to make it possible.
      In response to the second, the vocabulary list usually includes the name of the birds in English and Kunwinjku, but you might need to look at the images again to work out which one is which.

  9. Imran-S
    Imran-S says:

    Hi, This is Imran.
    I pay respect to Elders both past and present.
    I have been living in Darwin since Last 10 years. During this time I have heard few of these words(available in learning materials) whenever I came across to Indigenous people. Before, those words were not meant anything to me until i start to explore the unit today. This is a great opportunity to learn “Bininj Kunwok” language. Learning a new language is always challenging if you do not have opportunity to practice it, whereas working at West Arnhem Regional Council, I will have this opportunity. I am exited about this.

  10. Celina-E
    Celina-E says:

    Hi, my name is Celina you can also call me Ngalkammarrang, Bangardijan or Bangin. I’m fortunate to call Lois Nadjamerrek my karrang (she says call her Mola).

    I am one of the women’s engagement officers/ranger coordinators for Warddeken Land Management. I’m doing this course as I know I find it easier to learn about language structure and grammar through the balanda class structure. Doing this first unit, it was good to see that I am familiar with a lot of the words already but I would like to be able to speak in sentences. I often find it difficult to learn during work time as there is so much going on.

    I am late to posting as last week I was running a daluk camp. I had a few language lessons there and one question I thought post camp was whether it should be dalukdaluk camp as it’s a large group of women?

  11. Amber-W
    Amber-W says:

    Hi all,

    My name is Amber and I am living and teaching in Kabulwarnamyo. Kunwinjku is the first language of my students and with the support of Bininj teachers we aim to incorporate it into the classroom as much as possible. I also enjoy learning languages to build relationships with people I am living and working with and have previously studied Pitjantjatjara and Yolgnu Matha while spending time with/ living in these communities. I am lucky to be surrounded by the Kunwinjku language and find picking up vocabulary the easier part in this setting – I am looking forward to learning more about grammar and stringing some sentences together in ways that make sense! Working out how to put all my prefixes/suffixes and tenses together. I have learnt some handy phrases so far and I will definitely be putting ‘baleh ngayime’ and ‘yawoyh’ into practise.

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