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Guugu Yimithirr is one of the more famous Aboriginal languages because it is the source language of the word "kangaroo."


Aboriginal clans

The Guugu Yimithirr People:

The Guugu Yimithirr are an Australian Aboriginal tribe of Far North Queensland, many of whom today live at Hopevale (population approximately 800), which is the administrative centre of Hopevale Shire. It is about 46 km from Cooktown by road. It is also the name of their language. They were a coastal people and refer to themselves as a "saltwater people."

In 1770, Guugu Yimithirr became the first Australian Aboriginal language to be written down when Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook and his crew recorded words while their ship, the HM Bark Endeavour, was being repaired after having run aground on a shoal of the Great Barrier Reef. Joseph Banks described the language as 'totally different from that of the Islanders; it sounded more like English in its degree of harshness tho it could not be calld [sic] harsh neither.'

Among the words recorded were kangooroo or kanguru, meaning a large black or grey kangaroo, which would become the general English term for all kangaroos, and dhigul (transcribed by Banks as Je-Quoll), the name of the quoll.