brisbane aboriginal tribes indooroopilly meaning aboriginal place names in queensland brisbane aboriginal history brisbane aboriginal history. Real estate employment home and garden.

Aboriginal Place Names for Brisbane and Surrounds

There were seven dialects spoken by the Moreton Bay tribes-the Yoocum of Nerang, extending to the Logan; the Cateebil, from the Logan to the Brisbane; the Waccah, from the Brisbane to the Caboolture; the Cabbee, north of the Caboolture; the Nhulla of Bribie; the Coobennpil of Stradbroke; and the Gnoogee of Moreton Island. What was called the Noonuccal of Amity was actually so nearly allied to Coobennpil that it could hardly be called a separate dialect, though it had its own negative and affirmative.

There were three negatives,  on Fraser Island-Waccah, Cabbee, and   Warr - but it was all one dialect. Stradbroke Island, as a whole, was known as Cheranggaree, and the tribes were Cherang garee-Cabalehu. The south end of the island was called Minjerribah, the name by which it was known to the mainland blacks. Mud Island was Bung-umba, Bird Island Moppanbilla, Peel Island Chererooba, St. Helena Noogoon, Green Island Tanggeera.  To the Stradbroke and mainland blacks Moreton Island was known as Gnoorgann pin.

Names of Fishes

In Coobennpil the following were the names of the fishes:- Groper, coojung; bream, gnoolan; pike, yoocoh; dewfish, booigoom; blackfish, dang-alla; eel, chagine; silver eel, choorooin; garfish,   joonboroo; flathead, duggin; horse mackerel, doolbie-doolbie; snapper, bim ba; crab, weenyam; kingfish, deeambilla; mullet, andaccal; tailor fish, poonbah; whiting, boorenn; oyster, keenying urra.

Those are a few of the names taken by me from Coobennpil speaking blacks over 50 years ago, before the dialects were mixed. Brisbane was known to all the Bay blacks at that time as Maginnchin, but the Cateebill people, on the south side, called it Meeannjin. That was the name of the spot now occupied by the Botanic Gardens, and meant the tulip wood, also "Gnarrim-tenberra," of which there were many splendid trees in the dense scrub which once covered the site of the Gardens.


The word Woolloongabba was the name of the creek that ran along parallel with the old Ipswich-road, and through Woolloongabba. It was a series of circular, or partly circular, clay waterholes, only connected in wet weather.

Then the rain water would run from one to the other, swirling round in each hole before rush ing into the next. Woolloongabba meant swirling water, but the blacks pronounced it Woolloon-capemm, from woolloon, the word for a whirlpool or whirlwind, and capemm, one of the names of water.

Clement Wragge called his house "Capemba," meaning water there, the affix ba, or bah, at the end of an aboriginal word being equivalent to our adverb of place there, so Capemba meant water there, just as Toowoomba means toowoom there, or the place where we get the toowoom.

Mount Cotton was called Boolimba, and Joong-gabbin, and Bulimba was Toogoolawah. The hill near Bulimba, White's Hill, was Numearran and where the ferry is, was Jing-gee-limbin. Mt. Gravatt was Caggara-mahbill, from Caggara, the porcupine, and the Hamilton was Yerrool, the old sandbank in front being Moroo-mooroolbin, or "long nose," from mooroo, the nose, and mooroolbin, long.

Breakfast Creek

The blacks called Breakfast Creek, at the mouth, Yow-oggera, and Yuoggera, but the ‘u’ was mistaken for an ‘n’ in the Survey office, and it has remained Enoggera ever since.  The place we call Enoggera was Booloor- chambinn. the name of the turpentine, and the tribe who lived there were the "Boondoorburra." The old and long since extinct Brisbane tribe were called Boorpoobanburra, the burra being a generic word for the aboriginal race, like the, "Murri" of the Kamilroy. 

The site of the 'present Enoggera sale yards was Booiycoba. The point at Breakfast Creek, where the Harris family lived, was Garran-binbilla, the name of the horizontal vines used in lacing the supporting stays of a camp.

Toowong was called Gootcha, one of the names of honey, and it also was a name of One Tree Hill. There were two native bees, one a little larger than the other, one being gootcha, and the other cubbye. Wooloowin was the word for fish. All fish were Wooloowin.

One Tree Hill (Mt Cootha)

To the blacks One Tree Hill was known as Gootcha and Mappee, gootcha being honey, and mappee a word for the posterior, actually meaning the posterior of the range which ends in One Tree Hill, the aboriginal fancy picturing some imaginary resemblance arising out of their ingenious doctrine of correspondence.

The hill got its unfortunate name of Coot-tha in the following manner: A gentleman named Radford, who was at the time acting as Assistant Clerk of parliament, went to old "King Sandy," "Gairballie," and asked him what the blacks called One Tree Hill. Radford had been to Sandy several times before, and on each occasion forgotten to give the old fellow some reward, so, instead of giving Radford either Gootcha or Mappee, he wilfully, of most wicked malice aforethought, gave him a word, the use of which, it translated into English, would be rewarded with a fine of anything up to £5.

Hence, the urgent need of removing it from the maps, and substituting  Gootcha,  Mappee, or Cubbye.  Mappee, on the Russell River, was the name of the tree climbing kangaroo.

Spring Hill

Spring Hill was known as Woomboonggoroo, as that was the place where an aboriginal of that name was killed by the relatives of "Dundahli," a black who was hanged in 1854 for several murders of whites, hanged on the site of the present G.P.O.;  and his last words to the crowd of listening blacks on Spring Hill conveyed an earnest wish for them to kill Woomboonggoroo, whom he accused of having betrayed him.

His relatives and friends were careful to see that wish fulfilled, and Woomboonggoroo duly died suddenly on Spring Hill from the visitation of a nulla. Previous to that occasion the old name of the hill was Mahreel, one of the names of a stepmother.


In Vulture street, South Brisbane, near the Dry Dock, is the old home of the Stephens family, of whom the father, T. B. Stephens, was at one time Minister for Lands. They called that home Cum- Cumbookie-bah, from Cumbookie, the freshwater crayfish, and bah, "there," meaning the place where we get "cumbookie," which were numerous in two of the waterholes near Stephens' house.

Away out on the Ipswich road near Stephen’s  tannery, called Ekibin, that and Yekkabin being names of the reeds  which grew, round the adjoining waterhole,  The large flags, of which the celery-like roots were roasted and eaten by the blacks, were, called jinboora, allied with the,' Down's blacks' jimboor, whence came the name of Jimbour station; both-words  in the Waccah dialect.

From Cleveland to Sandgate

Cleveland was Nandeebie, Lytton was Gnaloongpin, and Wellington Point was Cullen Cullen.  King Island was Yeroobin. and Sandgate was called Moora, in Waccah and Warrah by blackson Stradbroke. Can we not create titles and elevate that genial old colonist, Jack Hayes, to the position of "Marquis of Moora".   Verily, Sandgate has changed since that 3rd of December, 1S53, when Dowse and his son were badly speared by the blacks on the site of the' present modest castle of the "Marquis 'of Moora".


One unfortunate aboriginal word has suffered more than usual, the word  ‘ Tingalpa’, pronounced Ting-al-bah by the blacks from tingal, the word for fat,' and bah, ‘there,’ as usual, actually “the place where we got the fat," 'originating with an early settler, who had a fat cow killed by a falling tree, and he presented her to the blacks, who had never  seen so much fat before in all their lives, and they never forgot that cow. Now the fine euphonious aboriginal word is tortured into Tingalpa !


Another unfortunate word is ‘Coorparoo’ which the, aboriginal pronounced Coor- poo-roo, with accent on the poo; in the Cateebil dialect, the name of the old tribe of South Brisbane, who were the "Coor- pooroo-jaggin," when the white men, with his choice collection of fellow scoundrels made his advent on the sylvan scene.

Indooroopilly and Caboolture

Indooroopilly was from ‘Indooroo’, leeches, and ‘pilly’, a creek, Yeerongpilly, from ‘yeerong’, rain in Cateebil, and Jeebroopilly from jeeboor, the flying squirrel. We pass now to the word Caboolture, from ‘cabbool’, the carpet snake, and ‘cha’ the name of the ground, actually the carpet snake's ground.

Old Sam, Pootingga, belonged to the* Bo-obbera, tribe, of Caboolture, and was the last man speaking the Waccah dialect of Brisbane. His country on the Caboolture was called Dow-oon.

The Blackall and Glasshouse Mountains

Now we come to the "Dippil'' people of Duramboi, and the Glasshouse mountains. The Blackall scrub was known as Thammaleerie, the word for black soil, though it is mostly red. The Glasshouse Mountains had a variety of names in the Waccah and Cabbee dialects. One of them puzzled me for a long time until it was explained to me by Alick Jardine, who named it when surveying there.

The word is a compound from the Kamilroi, of New South Wales, and hence my surprise at finding it in Cabbee country. Jardine called the mountain ‘Micatee-boomal-garri’, from, ‘mickatee’, the lightning, and ‘boomal’ to strike- accent on ‘al’, literally the place where the lightning struck. The mountain known to-day as ‘Coonowrin’ was the ‘coonoong-warrang’ of the old Cabbee blacks, from ‘coonoong’, the neck, and ‘warrang’, bad, hence the term of "Crookneck' frequently used for that peak.

Beerwah was from 'beearr', the Blue Mountain parrot, meaning the place where he rests. The two small hills close to each other, were ‘Bitheer-boolaythu’, actually "the two hills," from ‘Bitheer’, a hill and ‘boolay’, two.


The one now called ‘Beerburrum', from" beearr, the parrot, and ‘burrum’, the noise of his wings, was called ‘Jeeboroo-gaggalin’ by the old Cabbee blacks, from ‘jeeboor’, the squirrel, and ‘gaggalin’, nibbling, the "nibbling squirrel." But the names varied considerably in the two dialects.  Bitheer -boolaythu in Cabbee became Toom-boom, boollah in Wacca, Coonoo-warrin replaced Coonoong-warrang, and Jeeboroo-gaggalia  became Teeborcaecin.

Other Glass House - Mountain names taken down by me from the blacks themselves, when they spoke, their own language, were Nuhroom, Yooan, Birriehah, Daiangdurrajin, Turrawandin, but as no meanings are recorded, the blacks probably had forgotten them, as often the case with very old names.

From the summit of Spring Hill you see in the distance Flinders' Peak Mountain, the ‘Booroompa’ of the Cateebil dialect, and his two cone-shaped satellites, ‘Muntanubin’ and ‘Teenyeenpa’, while far off on the sky line is the. great cliff faced front of Mt. Lindesay,- the Chalgammbooin of Cateebil, and the Chang- gam-bin of Yoocum.

Other Tribal Dialects and Names

The Ipswich, tribe was known to other tribes us Noonillburra, and the North Brisbane tribe, who spoke Tom Petrie's Turrabul, was known as Beepooban. The Bunya Mountain tribes were grouped under Dallamburra, and the Downs tribes as Gooneeburra, the "fire blacks." The Logan people were Warillcum, and the Albert

River tribes were Boonoorajallie, while the Coomera was occupied by the Balloonjallie, and Nerang by the Talgiburra, and Chabbooburra.

The Durundur tribe, of whom so many were poisoned in the early days, were the Giggaburra.  Nerang Creek was named from Neerang, the shovel nose shark, which is more a ray than a shark, and Coomera was a word for ground.  In Maori it is the name of the sweet potato.

Some names of places in the Bay have been overlooked, Macleay Island was  Jencoomercha,  Coochie Moodlo was Goojingoojingpa, Dunwich was Goompee, and Moreton Island was known to the other tribes as Cung-an-yung-an. St. Helena, Noogoon, was

occupied by a people from the Coonool-Cabalchu tribe of Dunwich. The Gnoogee dialect of Moreton Island gave the name of the Creator as ‘Tooloongooloo-manboo,' the Bunnoo of the Kamilroi, a name bearing no resemblance to the Creator's name in any other known dialect.

The names of the boomerang  in Moreton Bay dialects were barrann  bargann, and barragan, the shield, goolmarring.  Nundah was the mouth and Nambour was the teatree.  The forest oak was buranda, and the swamp oak was billarr. Water was goong, tabbil,, and capemm, and fire was wy burra.

-Archibald Meston

The indigenous meaning of Indooroopilly and other aboriginal place names.