20 of the most beautiful Aboriginal baby names

ALTHOUGH there were over 700 Aboriginal dialects when the Europeans arrived in Australia in the 18th century, there are now less than 150 and most of those are endangered.

To honour these beautiful languages, I've put together a list of my favourite Aboriginal baby names.

Because resources on the meaning of Aboriginal names are so scarce and unreliable, I've used Waltzing More than Matilda blogger Anna Otto's thorough research on the topic as my main source of information.

She explains that she's chosen names "conservatively", ensuring that the Aboriginal words are already being used as names for people, places or businesses.

Like Anna, I hope that my list will be seen as a celebration of Indigenous Australian culture rather than as disrespectful in any way.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the story here may contain images and references to deceased persons.



Meaning 'flame' in one of the Aboriginal languages from South Australia, Alinta fits perfectly into the current trend of feminine names beginning and ending in "A" (think Ava, Amelia and Aria).


This word will be familiar to most Aussie readers thanks to its two most renowned incarnations, the late Steve Irwin's daughter Bindi Irwin and those evil prickly weeds that lurk in the grass and prick your feet.

It's said to mean 'little girl' in an unknown dialect and 'butterfly' in the Nyungar language of Western Australia.


The name of the main character in Jedda (1955), the first Australian film shot in colour and starring two Aboriginal actors in the lead roles, is a lovely choice for a modern Aussie girl. 

It ticks the boxes of originality, femininity and strength all at once.

Kalinda: It means 'see'. Its origins are largely unknown.
Kalinda: It means 'see'. Its origins are largely unknown.



While the exact origin of this word is unknown, it's said to mean 'See!' as in "Yo, check this out!" Kalinda Ashton is an award-winning author based in Melbourne, and the name has even made it to Hollywood with a character named Kalinda on drama series The Good Wife.


Kirra means 'leaf' in the Yugambeh language found on the Gold Coast in Queensland (there's even a suburb there called Kirra Beach) and 'to live' in the Murri dialect in southern Queensland.

Parents seeking an alternative spelling to the popular Irish versions Keira and Kiera might love this option.


Meaning 'girl' in the Gumbaynggir language of New South Wales and 'woman' in a Tasmanian dialect, Lowanna is also said to describe an object of exquisite beauty.

It makes for a delightfully original girl's moniker with a range of sweet nicknames, including Lo, Lowie and Anna.


The first thing that might spring to mind is the adorable yellow Lab puppy in the movie Marley & Me, but I like the 'ee' spelling for a human girl.

There's a town in New South Wales called Marlee, which means 'elderberry tree' the Biripi dialect.


This name truly deserves its meaning of 'beautiful' in one of the Aboriginal languages around Sydney.

Despite its similarity to the supermodel-ish Miranda, it has a lovely rhythm all its own.


One might believe that this is simply an 'original spelling' of Rihanna (which is why I shouldn't be too quick to judge misspelt names - duly noted!), but it actually means 'small caterpillar' in the Palawa language of Tasmania.

Seem weird?

Not when you consider that the butterfly is regarded as the soul of the deceased in some Aboriginal cultures.


Talia is a coastal town in South Australia, so its meaning of 'near water' suits it to a T. 

It's a name that can easily cross over into English, with Brisbane model Talia Richman currently increasing its exposure in the US.

Daku is a name from the Diyari language of South Australia
Daku is a name from the Diyari language of South Australia


This South Australian name meaning 'sand hill' in the Diyari language sounds as exotic as the desert whence it came.

Not that it needs shortening, but Dak is also a pretty cool nickname.



There's a NSW coastal town named Iluka (pronounced eye-loo-ka) and it means 'by the sea' the Bundajalong language, so this could be considered the male counterpart of Talia.

Similar to the popular Luca but with a funky twist, Iluka could be shortened to Illy - cute!


In the Jiwarli language of WA, Jarli means 'barn owl'. In many cultures around the world (including several Aboriginal Australian ones), the owl has long been a symbol of wisdom.

It's a wonderful alternative to the trendy Charlie for your wee wise one.


Pronounced Jim-ba, this sweet word means 'laughing star' in the Wiradjuri language found in New South Wales.

It can be shortened to Jim or Jimmy, but it would be a shame to lose its unique charm.

JIEMBA. Pronounced Jim-ba,means ‘laughing star’ in the Wiradjuri language found in New South Wales.
JIEMBA. Pronounced Jim-ba,means ‘laughing star’ in the Wiradjuri language found in New South Wales.


Similar to the trendy Noah and Kai, Koa means 'crow' in the Kaurna language of Adelaide.

It's also a Hawaiian name meaning 'warrior' and a type of acacia tree native to Hawaii.

For modern parents seeking an original name with a significant meaning, this really fits the bill.


As with the previous entry, this name has a multicultural slant.

It not only designates a type of spear thrower in the Aboriginal Nyungar language, but it can also be short for the Slavic Miroslav or the Japanese Miroku.

It offers a striking substitute for the popular Milo.


Meaning 'black-necked stork' in an unknown Aboriginal language, Monti makes for a great boy's name.

People might assume it's short for the slightly stuffy Montgomery, but you'll have a great story to tell when correcting them.


Tarka means 'eggshell' in the South Australian Kaurna language and it also refers to a type of seasoning in Indo-Pak cuisine.

I've heard of one boy named Tarka whose nickname was Tak, which is rather charming.


Another Kaurna word, Tau means 'dusk' or 'twilight'.

Similar to the Chinese word 'Tao' meaning the natural order of things, as well as other popular three-letter names such as Taj and Kai, Tau will surely fit right in at school.


Warrin sounds exactly the same as the English name Warren.

But there's no doubt that its meaning - 'winter' in one of the Sydney area languages - is cooler than the English 'park keeper'.

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