What does Narrm mean?

What does Narrm mean?

We acknowledge the diverse meanings of 'Narrm' to both the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples of the Central Kulin Nation. By understanding and honouring the meanings of words like 'Narrm', we can cultivate greater appreciation and respect for the cultural heritage of First Nations peoples. As we continue to learn from and engage with Indigenous languages, we take meaningful steps towards reconciliation and cultural preservation.

In the vast and diverse tapestry of Indigenous Australian languages, words carry profound meanings that reflect the deep connection between the people and their land. One such word, "Narrm," holds significance in both the Woiwurrung and Boonwurrung languages spoken by Aboriginal groups in Victoria.

Understanding "Narrm"

Senior Wurundjeri Elder, Aunty Joy Murphy, explains in her 'knowing Narrm' interview with Australia Post that “In the Woiwurrung (woi-a-rung) language of the Kulin nation, Naarm means ‘place’, It signifies that the area was an important meeting place for the language groups of the Kulin nation, a collective of five Aboriginal clans: Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung (boon-wuh-rung), Wathaurrung (wo-thuh-rong), Taungurung (tan-a-rong) and Dja DjaWrung (jah-jah-rong)."

It refers specifically to the traditional scrublands encompassing the area now known as the Greater Melbourne CBD. 

Conversely, among the Boonwurrung people, "Narrm" takes on a different connotation. To the Boonwurrung, Narrm signifies "The Bay," symbolizing Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. For generations, the bay has been central to their livelihoods, providing sustenance, transportation, and a sense of belonging.

For both the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples, Narrm serves as a reminder of their enduring connection to Country. 

More resources:

'A Guide To The Aboriginal / First Nations Name For Every Major Australian City', The Pedestrian

An Introduction to Boon Wurrung language from Aunty Faye Stewart Muir, Time Out  

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