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"Wiradjuri words show the power of learning Australia’s first languages"

Learning, Shape

Date: 18 March 2015

Felicity Meakins:

William Dawes, immortalised by Kate Grenville in her book, The Lieutenant, was the first known non-Indigenous person to learn an Australian language. He was an astronomer with the First Fleet, sent to Australia to document a comet expected to arrive in the Southern Hemisphere in 1788.

A young woman called Patyegarang taught Dawes the Sydney language. He dutifully recorded this in notebooks that amazingly still survive.

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  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University