A film in Gumbaynggirr language is a ABC Open story by Liz Keen from Coffs Coast NSW

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I have long respected Muurrbay Language and Cultural Cooperative, so I was pleased when given the opportunity to work with them.

I was asked to work with a local Aboriginal filmmaker to create a film in Gumbaynggirr language with the support of Muurrbay Language and Cultural Cooperative.

Maddison Chanel is a fantastic photographer and filmmaker based in Coffs Harbour. I worked with her on Saltwater Freshwater Dance Camp and she'd mentioned that she wanted a chance to work in Gumbaynggirr language so when this opportunity came up I knew she was my woman.

Muurrbay is an incredible centre. I first worked with them in 2005 when we ran a Sharing Stories project with Giiguy Gamambi Pre-School and Valla Community Pre-School and it was then that I learnt the history of the Gumbaynggirr language.

I feel that it isn't my story to tell but I will say that it was a language at risk of dying. So close was it to being lost that it has taken a series of miracles and many years of dedication and love from a group of people to revive it, but revived it is.

Gumbaynggirr language is now alive and strong, it was the first Indigenous language in Australia to be included in the HSC and it was one of a handful of languages put up to be part of a language pilot.

Maddison made this beautiful film of Gary Williams and Dallas Walker singing the song Baabaga Birruganba Bularri.

I hope this is the first of many projects I work on with Muurrbay, and with Gary and Dallas and Maddison.

And I hope you enjoy this beautiful song.

Garry Williams, from Muurrbay, has shared the words of the song for us to be able to reference.

Harry Buchanan tells how the old people explained to the children why the sun is large in the morning and evening but small at midday.


Nyayagi! yangamban ngayan! Yang Baabaga bularri; Baabaga, Birruganba

Look! there comes the sun! That father two father (and) Birrugan (son)

Look! There comes the sun. That's the Father together with Birrugan.

[The Father]

Aa! Ngaarilla, waru/ungga/mi/ndi ngii ngiling

Ah! play up-on-get-while yes there-where-you-are

Yes! Play as you rise in there into the sky!


Yarri nyaligangaarlaway. yaarri birrugana wanaawang.

Then father returns. Then Birrugan leave-did

yaarri jawgarr Birruganba yarraang gulaanagirr yarrang.

Then therefore Birrugan went he-alone there.

Yarraang yaarri bunggiing. Garraa gaarlaway jawagarr ngilina.

went then set-did again return so he (under the ground).

Bunyjing garraa. Yaarri nyaligandu garraa maaning gulaana.

Arose again Then father> again took him.

NOTE: This is told in the PRESENT tense - it is happening now. It is usual to pu ton the past tense -ng on verbs that mean 'start doing' even though you mean PRESENT tense.

While father goes back, having left Birrugan, Birrugan goes on alone. He goes on and sets and so come back home. Well, then next day, Father again takes him and he rises again.