+61 2 4940 9100
2 Milton St Hamilton

About Awabakal Country

Awabakal Country is in Australia on the east coast. North of Sydney, it encompasses the modern cities of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and surrounding areas.

  • Working with Schools

    - ON HOLD DURING COVID - Our School Workshops give your children a chance to learn some of the Awabakal Language, the traditional Aboriginal language of the Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and Hunter Valley landscapes. The children thoroughly enjoy our interactive lessons.
    Helping community
  • Consultancy services

    Our Awabakal Language & Culture Team are available to assist where possible in matters relating to Awabakal Language & Culture. Our Centre has a research and conservation development program, so we are regularly learning new things about Awabakal language and culture.
    Working with community
  • Tap into our resources

    Learning Awabakal Language is not just about learning our word for 'eyes' or 'tree'. It is also about learning a different way of viewing the world. Our language is a gateway to our culture. Explore our range of Awabakal language resources - books, posters, snap and flash cards.
    National recognition

Newcastle Herald 12.9.2007

Many Aboriginal Languages are all but extinct and many are in danger of falling silent forever as the last generation of speakers grows old.

But a cutting edge computer program developed in Newcastle could help preserve the language and, in turn, keep cultures alive.

Daryn McKenny from Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association is the man behind the language reclamation and revitalisation program.

In 2003 he started work on a database of words from the local Arwarbukarl language using a basic computer program designed for more conventional use.

"There were lots of language software available but it was all aimed at linguists, not native speakers."

When Microsoft heard of the work he was doing and learnt he had lost Government funding, they came on board and helped him design a specific program archive native languages.

That program is called Miromaa, the Arwarbukarl word for 'saved'.

Mr McKenny says awareness of traditional language is important to understanding Australia's Indigenous culture.

"You can't experience culture without language; it is wrapped up in the language.

"When the project started the aim was to revive the language here (in Newcastle,) which hasn't been spoken here for about 100 years."

Mr McKenny says the underlying philosophy of the project has been to help Aboriginal people access the language rather than keep it in the hands of linguists.

"We were told two people can't revive a language, that we'd need academics, but why can't Aboriginal people be empowered to revive their language?

The Miromaa program has been adopted by about 30 communities across Australia, from Far North Queensland to Western Australia.

It combines audio and visual technology with written language and historical information to give a broad understanding of the way the language was used.

As the Arwarbukarl language has essentially disappeared, Mr McKenny and program manager Dianna Newman have searched for traces of the language in historical documents and archived the words.

They have archived about 2500 words from the local language, while other projects with better preserved languages have managed to archive more than 700 words in their database.

Download PDF

Special relationship

We are fortunate to have a close relationship with First Languages Australia.

We are funded by