The meaning of Meanjin: exploring the Traditional Place name of Brisbane

For Uncle Shannon Ruska — with Yuggera (yug-er-a), Turrbal (tur-a-bul), Quandamooka (quan-da-mook-a), Kabi Kabi (kubi-kubi) and Yugembeh (you-gum-bir) bloodlines — having all Australians use Brisbane’s Traditional Place name of Meanjin (meen-jn) is not just welcomed but celebrated.

Preserving the significance of Traditional Place names

For generations, Traditional Place names have held profound meaning for Indigenous communities around Australia - including Meanjin, the Traditional Place name for Brisbane.

As Uncle Shannon Ruska explains, “Meanjin holds deep, sacred, heartfelt knowledge for our people. It’s a point in the river which means ‘the spearhead’ in Yuggera Turrbal Country.”

This sacred location served as a focal point for trade and cultural exchange where communities would barter resources, such as spearheads and sought-after materials, like Gidgee (a hardwood), from distant Countries.

Traditional Place names often convey much more than just the physical features of the land.

“Aboriginal place names are more or less our old ‘suburb names’ for the area,” explains Uncle Shannon. “Along South Brisbane alone there’s about five or six place names that stretch from Kangaroo Point around to Carol Park at the bottom of West End. And each of those define animals, Dreamtime stories, even star depictions of the cosmos.”