Nipaluna is the name of the country in which the City of Hobart sits.

Aerial photo of nipaluna. Courtesy of The Mercury

This was the name known by the Aboriginal people of the south east.

The town came later, in 1804, and it was well established within Nipaluna by the time that Wurati first shared the name and its meaning with government agent George Augustus Robinson, as ‘country at Hobart Town’ on 16 January 1831.

‘… Conversation with the nt [natives]. Writing journal. Mutteely informed me respecting the nation was inhabiting the country at Hobart Town   ‘1.  2. Linghe’(GA Robinson manuscript journal Sunday 16 January 1831).

Most Aborigines had at least two names. Mutteely was also known as Woorraddy (in European spellings), written as Wurati in palawa kani.  Wurati was one of eight Aborigines who Robinson had coerced to travel with him as guides on his expedition through the north east and to the Bass Strait islands in 1830-1831; in January 1831 they were returning to Hobart for Robinson to report to the colonial government. On 16 January they were between the Prosser River and Pittwater on the south east coast, and arrived in Hobart Town on the next day, the 17thWurati indicates that the Muwinina people who inhabited the area used this name. He himself was a Nununi man from Bruny Island.  Both tribes were part of the south east language group.

A few months later, Wurati shared the name with Robinson again.  They were now back in the north east, and Robinson spent most evenings at camp writing in his journal the stories and information told to him by his guides and by Wurati in particular. Camped on the night of 11 July 1831 on hills somewhere around what Robinson thought might be the Forester River:

‘In conversation with Woorrady…[He] Said that he saw the first ships come to VDL when they settled at Hobart Town, called Niberlooner.. … [He] said when they saw the first ship coming at sea they were frightened, and said it was wrageowrapper; that when the first people settled they cut down the trees, built houses, dug the ground and planted; that by and by more ships came, then at last plenty of ships; that the natives went to the mountains…and looked at what the white people did, went and told other natives and they came and looked also.’ (GA Robinson manuscript journal Monday 11 July 1831)  [‘wrageowrapper’ is a word for an evil spirit]

(GA Robinson manuscript journal, Monday, 11 July 1831)

Robinson then also transcribed the name into his Aboriginal Vocabulary 1830-31 Part 2, 112:

GA Robinsons Aboriginal Vocabulary 1830-31 Pt:2:112