How Do You Say ‘Hello’ in Aboriginal Language?

The Kaurna language, spoken in and around Adelaide, uses several greetings. ‘Niina marni’ translates to ‘are you good?’ whereas ‘wanti niina’ loosely means ‘where are you going?’ Both are friendly ways to say ‘hello.’


In the western suburbs of Brisbane, including Boonah, the most used Aboriginal language is Yugarabul. The best way to say ‘hello’ is ‘gurumba bigi,’ which means ‘good day.’

The same word is used in Yugara; you can also say ‘wunya’ as a welcome or greeting. Towards North Queensland, Barna is more prevalent, and you can say ‘hello’ or wish somebody ‘good day’ by saying ‘boongonna moogonoo.’

In the Charleville region in South West Queensland, we’d suggest the Bidjara word for ‘good day,’ which is ‘budabai duru.’

New South Wales

Most widely spoken around Canberra, the Ngunnawal language has ‘yumalundi’ as its word for ‘hello.’ In Sydney, you could greet someone who speaks the Gadigal or Dharug languages with either ‘bujari gamaruwwa,’ which means ‘good day,’ or ‘budyeri kamaru’ for ‘hello.’

Northern Territory

While some people living in and around Darwin will speak Larrakia, the more usual Aboriginal language spoken is Yolngu Matha, which originates from Arnhem Land nearby. The word for ‘welcome’ is the best greeting anLearning some simple phrases from some Aboriginal language groups is a fantastic way to demonstrate inclusion, respect, and acknowledgement to local Indigenous communities or specific people you work or interact with. However, as you may learn on Indigenous Literacy Day, one of the complications of learning Indigenous greetings is that around 120 First Nations languages are currently spoken across Australia. Hence, there are many different ways to express a greeting.

Today, we will share some alternative ways to say ‘hello’ in a language or dialect spoken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and explore the power of linguistic education.

Why Learn How to Say ‘Hello’ in an Indigenous Language?

Every day, we greet our friends, family members, colleagues, and people we encounter–this is part of the fabric of society and the way we communicate and acknowledge one another. A simple ‘hello’ and a warm smile make a significant difference to our own experiences and the people we speak to, as the most basic form of communication used even by the youngest infants.

The act of learning a phrase and investing time in educating yourself about the local Indigenous languages helps towards cultural reconciliation. Just as you might decide to learn some words before travelling to another country, embedding diverse languages into our everyday interactions and recognising the importance of inclusivity is a positive and deliberate way to show respect.

Interestingly, many Australian people know how to say ‘hello’ in various European languages–think ‘bonjour,’ ‘ciao,’ or ‘hallo’–but very few can say the same for the Aboriginal languages originating from the very place they live.

Different Ways to Say ‘Hello’ in Australia

We have multiple English variations of the word ‘hello.’ You might say ‘g’day,’ ‘hey,’ ‘hi,’ or any alternative. The languages spoken by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are even more diverse, given that they are formed by dialects that have evolved over millennia.

Here are some of the many phrases that may be relevant, depending on where you live:

South Australia

d is ‘märr-ŋamathirri.’


Few Indigenous languages have survived in Tasmania, but a composite dialect called Palawa kini is sometimes spoken. A simple term for ‘hello’ for a casual greeting is ‘ya,’ but you could also use ‘ya pulingina’ as a more formal greeting.


Kulin is an Aboriginal language used in Melbourne; the word for either ‘hello’ or ‘welcome’ is the same: ‘wominjeka.’

Western Australia

If you live in Perth, you could learn the word for ‘hello’ in Noongar, which is ‘kaya.’

How to Learn the Correct Aboriginal Word for ‘Hello’

Naturally, this list is a small insight into the variety of ways Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak and communicate and the huge array of languages and dialects that make up this rich culture.

If you are unsure which Indigenous language is most used in your area or which dialect a person you know may speak, you can research this information online or through your local library or access the many resources available through the Evolve Communities website. 

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