Mirning is a language associated with the south-eastern Goldfields region of WA and with the far west-coast of South Australia, along the Great Australian Bight. The coast – especially the head of the Great Australian Bight – is a significant area for the Mirning people, as they have always been connected to water and to whales, the totem animal.
Mirning-Kokatha woman Iris Burgoyne has written an account of her life and her people entitled ‘Mirning: We are the Wales’ (2000), in which she describes Mirning culture, language, and history. A word list of the Mirning language has been collated by the University of Adelaide which features extracts of notes written by Geoff and Alix O’Grady. Geoff, a linguist, and his wife Alix, a historian, researched and recorded Mirning language between 1959 and 1968, and though their work was very technical, it is now readily accessible thanks to the Mirning word list project. Currently, the Far West Language Centre in Ceduna is undertaking Mirning language revival activities.
Mirning people live in many communities now, including Esperance in WA, Norseman in WA, Port Lincoln, Ceduna, Yalata, Port Pirie, Koonibba, several farms and communities and Adelaide.