Taungurung People of Victoria

Taungurung People of Victoria

The Taungurung (Daung wurrung) people occupy much of central Victoria. Their country encompasses the area between the upper reaches of the Goulburn River and its tributaries north of the Dividing Range. From Kilmore in the west, eastwards to Mount Beauty, to below Benalla in the north and south to the top of the Great Dividing Range and boundaries with adjoining Aboriginal tribes are respected in accordance with traditional laws. The various clan groups migrated on a seasonal basis through their territory dependent upon the seasonal variations of weather and the availability of food. The Taungurung people are closely affiliated with the neighbouring tribes, through language, ceremonies and kinship ties. They are part of an alliance with the five adjoining tribes to form the Eastern Kulin Nation. Other members of the Kulin Nation are the Woiwurrung, Boonwurrung, Wathaurung, and Djadjawurrung. The Kulin Nation group shares common dreamtime ancestors and creation stories, religious beliefs, economic and social relationships.

The Taungurung language has not been spoken fluently since the 19th century. But this has not stopped the Taungurung people who have been working hard to revive their language. The Victorian Corporation for Aboriginal Languages Taungurung language program began in the late 1990s, and in 2011 published the Taungurung Dictionary titled ‘Taungurung: Liwik-nganjin-al Ngula-dhan. Yaawinbu Yananinon’ compiled by Lee Healy.

Dolodanin-dat Animation Group

The Dolodanin-dat Animation Project Group was formed by a group of interested Taungurung People to partner with the Monash Country Lines Archive (MCLA) to animate the creation stories in Taungurung.

Taungurung members approached the Monash Country Lines Archive shortly after we began in 2011. After many discussions the Dolodanin-dat Animation Project Group was formed in 2013 and we began animating.


Winjara Wganhanyan (Why We All Die)

‘Winjara Wiganhanyan’ is based on the story ‘Why Men Die’ and is the first animation.

In March 2015 this animation was completed. When the next animation is completed, both animations will be viewable on this site.

Yangun Gulinj Wiinj (How Man Found Fire)

‘Yangun Gulinj Wiinj’ based on the story ‘How Man First Came In Possession Of Fire’ is the second animation and is currently in production.

June 2015 – the soundtrack and motion capture for this animation was recorded and the animation process commenced.


Through the use of the Taungurung dictionary, and help from volunteer linguist Dr Julie Reid the Group began storyboarding, scripting and translating the following stories into Taungurung:

  • Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die)
  • Yangun Gunlinj Wiinj (How Man Found Fire)
  • Bunjil
  • The First Women
  • Why Cranes Have Thin Legs

The stories have been developed from an amalgamation of the Taungurung creation stories retold and handed down through generations and also various publications, particularly ‘Bunjil’s Cave: Myths, Legends and Superstitions of the Aborigines of South-East Australia’ by Aldo Massola.

The first step was developing animation processes for the partnership between the Dolodanin-dat Animation Project Group and MCLA. One of the short stories was selected as the first animation to test the proposed process and find what worked for the Group.

This section explains this process stage by stage using the first animation Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die) as example.

Stage One: Storyboarding

Many of the stories chosen had been made English both in language and construction – they had been translated and written for an English speaking audience.

The animation process began with the Dolodanin-dat Animation Group returning their stories to Taungurung. The stories were reinvigorated with the inter-generational knowledge, and made ready to be heard again in Taungurung.

The group nominated a member or family group for each story. This person or group took the lead responsibility for their story. The first story produced was Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die) and the lead group member was Kate ten Buuren.

The story was first studied as a group to find the best way to bring the stories to life. We researched the background to the stories so we could try and bring the cultural knowledge to life. From this meeting Kate developed a storyboard that was brought back to the group for further discussion and input.

Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die): Storyboard by Kate Ten Burren

Brent McKee (MCLA senior animator) then developed these storyboards further to show how the images can be used to tell parts the story – a single image can convey whole sections of a written story.

Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die): Storyboard by Brent McKee
Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die): Storyboard by Brent McKee
Stage Two: Scripting and Modelling

The next stage was writing the script and translating them into Taungurung. As the group was learning Taungurung as they went, so the script changed and developed as their understanding and knowledge of the language did.

Why Men Die Script
Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die): Sample Script (2014)

At the same time, the animators began building the models that the animations would be built from. This process involved sending images and short animations for the group to discuss, ask for changes, and approve.

Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die): Dabonga (character)
Winjara Wganhanyn (Why We All Die): Dabonga (character)
Stage Four: Rehearsals and Recording

Once the script was written it was time to learn how to pronounce, project and perform.

The group had decided that the animations would be conversation style with the interaction between the characters telling the story, instead of having a narrator.

This meant that soundtrack needed to project the emotions and messages of urgency and so on. The group not only needed to learn how to speak a language they had never spoken before, but they also had to learn how to perform.

As soon as the group were ready they were recorded. This process involved individuals or groups recording with Associate Professor John Bradley and Dr Julie Reid coaching them through each line, or in some cases each word, until they had a recording that they were all happy with.

Stage Five: Putting it all together

The final stage was the animators building the animation around the soundtrack. This went to the group at different stages for changes, comment and feedback. Finally the group had produced their first animation Winjara Wganhanyan (Why We All Die).