Manankurra: What’s in a name? Placenames and emotional geographies

John J Bradley, Amanda Kearney

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    A thousand kilometres south-east of Darwin, as the ‘crow flies’ is Borroloola. Sixty kilometres east of Borroloola is the place Manankurra; occupying the east bank of a large bend on the Wearyan River. In the late afternoon sun the eastern banks of the river at Manankurra glow in deep ochre shades of yellow and red, while saltpans span the horizon, reaching out to the sea, the very essence of Yanyuwa life and Law. The white barked eucalypts stand starkly pale, skeletal against the solid trunks and olive green fronds of giant trees appearing as if from an ancient world. These are cycad palms; they stand in crowds along the river bank and retreat into the east, south and west. It is the cycad palms that are the focus of this place, that give meaning to its name. They are the first point of introduction to this place and their physical and cultural significance crosses the boundary of land belonging to the Yanyuwa and Garrwa people, neighbouring Aboriginal groups in the south-west Gulf of Carpentaria, northern Australia. Manankurra holds power in place and in all time, with a rich and complicated narrative of engagement for the Yanyuwa, as Indigenous owners.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAboriginal placenames
    Subtitle of host publicationnaming and re-naming the Australian landscape
    EditorsHarold Koch, Luise Hercus
    Place of PublicationCanberra
    PublisherANU E Press
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781921666094
    ISBN (Print)9781921666087
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

    Publication series

    NameAboriginal History Monographs


    • Indigenous Cultures
    • Australia
    • placenames


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