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IY2019: Ancient words for iconic Australian animals

22 May 2019

Media Release: Department of Communications and the Arts

More than 70% of our plants and animals are native to Australia and cannot be found in the wild anywhere else in the world. This includes 93% of our reptiles, 69% of our mammals and 46% of our birds.

The names of many of our iconic plants and animals come from Aboriginal words, including:

  • kookaburra – from the Wiradjuri word gugubarra
  • kangaroo – from the Guugu Yimithirr word gangurru
  • bilby – from the Ullaroi word bilba.

Other names originating from the Dharug language, spoken around the Botany Bay area where many unique plants and animals were first seen by European naturalists, include:

  • din-gu (dingo)
  • bug bug (boobook owl)
  • warata (waratah).

Learn more about the importance of acknowledging and reviving Indigenous languages on our website

Find out more

Visit the Department of Communications and the Arts website to view the original media release.

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