An interactive map helping people learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages has gone viral after being featured on ABC Online.
19 June 2020

The Gambay map has been developed by First Languages Australia (FLA), which is supported by the Office for the Arts' Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program.

It has been populated with 780 languages using data from regional language centres and language communities from around Australia. Gambaytranslates to 'together' in the Butchulla language of the Hervey Bay region in Queensland.

The map had been steadily generating interest, but its popularity exploded after the ABC posted an article, with tens of thousands of people exploring the map to find out more about their local Indigenous languages.

The map features preferred spelling and videos clips of 'language legends' who share their knowledge. The map also includes contacts for people who speak their traditional language and are willing to share their knowledge.

Warrgamay sisters Melinda Holden and Bridget Priman are the driving force behind the Gambay map. Melinda says it is a great tool that is already so much more than she could have ever imagined, and is still growing.

'We wanted to see elders talk about their language and their country,' Melinda said. 'We wanted people to know the language of the land they live on, as the language of that region describes the land and animals of that area.'

FLA works closely with Indigenous language centres and speakers to continuously develop the map to reflect the names and groups favoured by community, to make sure communities manage how their languages are publicly represented.

Using the map is easy:

  • Click on a location on the map to find the language group of that area
  • View the educational videos which feature 'language legends' talking about their culture
  • Listen to audio recordings of pronunciations—there is an open invitation to language custodians to add recordings through First Language Australia
  • Expand your knowledge by watching the ABC's 'This Place' series

Find out more