Batjala (QLD)

LocationFraser or Great Sandy Island (n. n. Gari); also on the mainland coast south to Noosa Head. Their name Batjala is said to mean 'sea folk,' however, their term for 'no' is ['ba] and this may be the real derivation since ['tjala] means 'tongue.' The majority of survivors were transferred to Yarrabah, near Cairns, about 1902 and we studied them there in 1938. Curr apparently did not distinguish between the real inhabitants of Fraser Island and Kabikabi mission residents from the adjoining mainland. As confirmed by Winterbotham data, the Batjala had access to the mainland along the lower course of Tinana Creek and north along the coast to Pialba. The southern horde groups under the name Dulingbara extended from about the southern third of the island to Noosa Head on the mainland and behaved much as if a separate tribe with some affiliations with the Kabikabi. In all nineteen horde names have been reported from the island, of which some probably belonged to the northern Ngulungbara who insisted they were a separate people. This island with a reputed original population of 2,000 would have been one of the more densely occupied areas in Australia, exceeded only by the Kaiadilt of Bentinck Island. Such densities seem possible chiefly when fish and reef products are freely available.
Co-ordinates152°55'E x 25°45'S
Area1,700 sq. m. (4,400 sq. km.)
ReferencesBrooke in Howitt, 1884; Commissioner in Curr, 1887; Curr, 1887; 134; Mathew in Curr, 1887; Mathew, 1910; Kelly, 1935; Tindale, 1938 MS, 1940; Winterbotham, 1954; Reeves and Miller, 1964; Colliver, 1968.
Alternative NamesBadjela, Badtala, Batyala (Wakawaka term applied to coastal people), Badyala, Patyala, Bidhala (Kabikabi term applied to coastal people), Butchulla, Dulingbara (group of hordes), Ngulungbara (group of hordes at north end claiming to be a separate tribe), Thoorgine (name of the island).