There are several hundred Indigenous peoples of Australia; many are groupings that existed before the British colonisation of Australia in 1788. Within each country, people lived in clan groups: extended families defined by various forms of Australian Aboriginal kinship. Inter-clan contact was common, as was inter-country contact, but there were strict protocols around this contact.
The largest language group people today are the Anangu Pitjantjatjara who live in the area around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and south into the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia. The second largest Aboriginal community are the Arrernte people who live in and around Mparntwe (Alice Springs). The third largest are the Anangu Luritja, who live in the lands between the two largest just mentioned. The Aboriginal languages and dialects with the largest number of speakers today are the Pitjantjatjara, Warlpiri and Arrernte.
Australian Capital Territory
- The Ngunnawal people were the first inhabitants of the area which is now occupied by the city of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. They spoke the Ngunnawal language. The city of Canberra is named after the Ngunnawal word Kambera. Many other place names around Canberra are Ngunnawal names, such as Tuggeranong, Ginninderra, Murrumbidgee, the suburb Ngunnawal and many road names.
New South Wales
- This language was spoken from Brisbane Waters in the south to Newcastle in the north, and extending west to Singleton and as far as Muswellbrook.
- The Bundjalung language was spoken in an area stretching from Grafton on the Clarence River in the south, to the Logan River in the north and includes the regional centres of Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, Woodenbong, Byron Bay, Ballina, Coolangatta-Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah, the Gold Coast, Beaudesert and Warwick. In the mid-1800s, up to 20 dialects were recognised, with some dialects still widely used into the 1950s.
- - see Murrawarri Republic and Murawari language.
- The Wiradjuri people are the largest Australian Aboriginal people group in New South Wales (by area).
- Yaygirr / Yaegl
- The Yaegl people lived around the mouth of the Clarence River. A dictionary and grammar guide developed at Maclean TAFE has over 1000 words.
- Alyawarre who live north-east of Alice Springs. In 1980 they lodged a land claim, which was handed back to them on 22 October 1992. The size of the land was 2,065 km2 (797 sq mi).
- Anmatjera from an area near Mount Leichhardt, Hann and Reynolds Ranges, and northeast to Central Mount Stuart. Artist Clifford Possum is an Anmatjera man. Emily Kngwarreye was also an Anmatjera woman.
- The Arrernte people speak the Upper Arrernte language, and live in the Arrernte area of Central Australia. The population of Arrernte people living on Arrernte land (including Alice Springs) is estimated at 25,000, making it the second largest of all Central Australian Aboriginal countries, after Pitjantjatjara. In most primary schools in Alice Springs, students (of all races and nationalities) are taught Arrernte (or in some cases Western Arrernte) as a compulsory language, often alongside French or Indonesian languages. Additionally, most Alice Springs High Schools give the option to study Arrernte language throughout High School as a separate subject, and it can also be learned at Centralian College as part of a TAFE course. Future plans are that it will be included as a university subject. Approximately 25% of Alice Springs residents speak Arrernte as their first language.
- Gurindji, who from 1966 to 1975 at Wave Hill Cattle Station had a strike known as The Gurindji Strike. In 1975, the Australian Labor Party government of Gough Whitlam finally negotiated with the Vesteys to give the Gurindji back a portion of their land. This was a landmark in the land rights movement in Australia for Australian Aboriginal people to be given rights to their traditional lands.
- The Kunibidji, or Gunivugi, people live by the Liverpool River in Arnhem Land. They are Aboriginal people and speak the Ndjébbana language. They hunt dugong, turtle and fish.
- Luritja is a name used to refer to several dialects of the Western Desert Language, and thereby also to the people who speak these varieties, and their traditional lands. The Luritja lands include areas to the west and south of Alice Springs, extending around the edge of Arrernte country, which lie roughly between Alice Springs and Uluru. The total population of Luritja people (including Papunya Luritja) is probably in the thousands making them the third largest of the Central Australian Aboriginal populations. It includes the town of Papunya.
- The Murrinh-Patha are a small group, living inland from the settlement of Wadeye, between the rivers Moyle and Fitzmaurice. Their language, also called Murrinh-Patha, is still spoken by about 900. The Murrinh-Patha culture is characterized by typical Native Australian social structure, including a complex kinship system with elaborate behavioral norms for interactions between the different kinship groups.
- The Pitjantjatjara, or Anangu, people are an Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert who speak the Pitjantjatjara language. Their influence extends from the area near Uluru in the Northern Territory to the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia. Their language is one of the most widely spoken Aboriginal languages.
- Nearly 2,500 Tiwi people live in the Bathurst and Melville Islands, which make up the Tiwi Islands.
- Warlpiri is a large group in the Northern Territory. There are 5000–6000 Warlpiri, living mostly in a few towns and settlements scattered through their traditional land, north and west of Alice Springs. Their largest community is at Yuendumu. Many Warlpiri, unlike people from other Aboriginal language and community groups, do not speak even a word of English. Warlpiri are famous for their tribal dances. Many Warlpiri have toured England, Japan, and most recently Russia, performing their dances.
- The Yolngu inhabit north-eastern Arnhem Land in Australia. Some Yolngu communities of Arnhem land re-figured their economies from being largely land-based to largely sea-based with the introduction of Macassan technologies such as dug-out canoes, after the Macassan contact with Australia. These seaworthy boats, unlike their traditional bark canoes, allowed Yolngu to fish the ocean for dugongs and turtles. Some Aboriginal workers willingly accompanied the Macassans back to their homeland across the Arafura Sea. The Yolngu people also remember with grief the abductions and trading of Yolngu women, and the introduction of smallpox, which was epidemic in the islands east of Java at the time.
- Guugu Yimithirr
- The Guugu Yimithirr are another language group. There are still several hundred speakers of the Guugu Yimithirr language, mostly living in and around Hopevale, Cooktown, and Wujal Wujal on Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland. The site of modern Cooktown was the meeting place of two vastly different cultures when, in June 1770, the local Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr people cautiously watched James Cook's crippled sailing vessel — HM Bark Endeavour — limp up the coast of their territory seeking a safe harbour. The word kangaroo comes from the Guugu-Yimidhirr name for a Grey Kangaroo, gangaroo.
- The Kalkadoon people live in the area around Mount Isa in Western Queensland. There was fighting between the Kalkadoon and police in the nineteenth century; in 1884, 200 of them were massacred at "Battle Mountain" in a fight against police.
- Torres Strait Islanders
- There are a number of Torres Strait Islander groups inhabiting the Torres Strait Islands between mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea.
- The Adnyamathanha, or Adynyamathanha, (pronounced ) are an Indigenous Australian people from the Flinders Ranges. Adnyamathanha is also the name of their traditional language. The Adnyamathanha are made up of the Kuyani, Wailpi, Yadliaura, Pilatapa and Pangkala, which are the traditional groups of the Northern Flinders Ranges and (with the Kokatha) the areas around Lake Torrens. The name Adnyamathanha means "rock people" and is a term referring to the Lakes Culture societies living in that area. They share a common identity, which they get from their ancestors, this common bond is their language and culture which is known as Yura Muda.
- The Dieri is an Australian Aboriginal group and (now extinct) language from the South Australian desert—specifically Cooper and Leigh Creek, Lake Howitt, and Lake Hope, Lake Gregory and Clayton River and low country north of Mount Freeling. The Dieri protested the Marree Man geoglyph, saying that it had caused them harm and was exploiting their Dreamtime stories.
- The Kaurna people have traditional lands in and around the Adelaide Plains. The people lived in independent family structures in defined territories called pangkarra. The Kuarna performed circumcision as an initiatory right and were the southernmost community to do so. The last surviving speaker of Kaurna as a mother-tongue died in 1931.
- Maralinga Tjarutja
- The Maralinga Tjarutja inhabit the remote western areas of South Australia. They are a Southern Pitjantjatjara people. The Maralinga Tjarutja native title land was handed back to the Maralinga people in January 1985 under legislation passed by both houses of the South Australian Parliament in December 1984 and proclaimed in January 1985. Maralinga people resettled on the land in 1995 and named the place Oak Valley Community. The local Aboriginal people were not warned effectively of the explosions from 1950s nuclear testing and many suffered terrible after-effects from fallout, although the 1984/1985 Royal Commission could find no evidence of this for the Maralinga Tjarutja.
- Ngarrindjeri is the language and traditional Aboriginal people of the lower Murray River and western Fleurieu Peninsula. The traditional areas extend from Mannum downstream through Murray Bridge and Goolwa and along the coast through Victor Harbor to Cape Jervis to the southwest and around Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert and the Coorong to around Kingston SE. The Ngarrindjeri achieved a great deal of publicity in the 1990s due to their opposition to the construction of a bridge from Goolwa to Hindmarsh Island, including a Royal Commission and a High Court case in 1996. There was an Aboriginal legend about a sea creature called the Muldjewangk which inhabited the Murray River, particularly Lake Alexandrina.
- Narungga were people of the Yorke Peninsula, many of which were removed by missions as part of the stolen generation.
Indigenous Tasmanian communities
Twentieth-century historians previously held that Aboriginal Tasmanians had become extinct with the death of Truganini in 1873, but this is no longer the accepted view. The original population, estimated at from 3000 to 15,000 people (The rate of genetic drift indicates that the maximum estimate is likely the lower boundary while archaeological evidence suggests numbers of up to 50,000) was reduced to a population of around 300 between 1802 and 1833 mainly due to the actions of white settlers who came to Australia from the United Kingdom, combined with disease and cultural disruption.
The Black War (1828–1832) and subsequent Black Line in 1830 were turning points in the relationship with European settlers. Even though many of the Aboriginal people managed to avoid capture during these events, they were shaken by the size of the campaigns against them. In 1828, Tarerenorerer (or Tarenorerer), a Punnilerpanner woman who had escaped from sealers, became the leader of the Emu Bay people (Plairhekehillerplue). Attacking settlers with stolen weapons, this is the first recorded use of muskets by Aboriginal people. Mannalargenna, the leader of the Ben Lomond people (Plangermaireener) organised guerrilla attacks against British soldiers in Tasmania and in 1835 became the first Aboriginal person in Tasmania to be given a "Christian" burial.
- The Gunai, or Kurnai, nation live in the area of south eastern Victoria, around Wilsons Promontory, Sale, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Snowy River and Mallacoota. The Gunai people resisted the European invasion of their land. Many were killed in fighting between 1840 and 1850. In 1863 Reverend Friedrich Hagenauer established Ramahyuck Mission on the banks of the Avon River near Lake Wellington to house the Gunai survivors from west and central Victoria.
- The Kulin alliance is one of the Indigenous nations of Australia who lived in central Victoria, around Port Phillip where Melbourne now stands, and Western Port, up into the Great Dividing Range and the Loddon and Goulburn River valleys. It included the Wurundjeri and Bunurong clans. On 6 June 1835 John Batman signed a 'treaty' (known as Batman's Treaty) with the Wurundjeri people where he purported to buy 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) of land around Melbourne and another 400 km2 (150 sq mi) around Geelong, on Corio Bay to the south-west. In exchange he gave the eight elders, whose marks he acquired on his treaty, a quantity of "blankets, knives, tomahawks, scissors, looking-glasses, flour, handkerchiefs and shirts." By 1863 the surviving members of the Wurundjeri and other Woiwurrung speakers were given "permissive occupancy" of Coranderrk Station, near Healesville. William Barak was the last ngurungaeta of the Wurundjeri-willam clan. Bunjil is seen as the culture-hero or god of the Kulin people. The Bunurong were referred to by Europeans as the Western Port or Port Philip group.
- Yorta Yorta
- The Yorta Yorta people traditionally lived around the junction of the Goulburn and Murray Rivers in present-day north-eastern Victoria. Family groups include the Bangerang, Kailtheban, Wollithiga, Moira, Ulupna, Kwat Kwat, Yalaba Yalaba and Ngurai-illiam-wurrung clans. Their language is generally referred to as the Yorta Yorta language. Prominent Yorta Yorta people include Burnum Burnum and Sir Douglas Nicholls.
- The Jarrakan are one of several groups in the north of the state.
- The Noongar (alternate spellings: Nyungar, Nyoongar) are a group of Australian Aboriginal people who live in the south west of Western Australia from Geraldton in the mid west to Esperance on the south coast. The population of the Noongar at the time of European arrival was estimated between 6000 and 10,000. The population in the 2001 census was 21,000. The Beeliar group encountered English settlers when they arrived in and established the Swan River Colony in 1829. Captain James Stirling declared that the local peoples were British subjects. Although the Nyungar at first traded amicably with the settlers, as time wore on, rifts and misunderstandings developed, and attacks and reprisal attacks grew. This resulted in the death of Yagan, who is now seen by many as one of the first Indigenous resistance fighters. The name of Mokare is commemorated for mediating peace between the colonists at King George Sound and his own people, and assisting in the exploration of the region. Many place names in Western Australia are named after Noongar words, especially those ending in "up" or "in/ing" (both meaning "place of" in different dialects) such as Joondalup, Manjimup, Narrogin and Merredin.
- Pila Nguru
- The Spinifex people, or Pila Nguru, have their traditional lands situated in the Great Victoria Desert, in the Australian state of Western Australia, adjoining the border with South Australia, to the north of the Nullarbor Plain. They maintain in large part their traditional hunter-gatherer existence within the territory, over which their claims to Native title and associated collective rights were recognised by a 28 November 2000 Federal Court decision. The Australian Royal Commission was unable to determine if Pila Nguru people had been exposed to damaging levels of radiation from fallout after the nuclear testing near Maralinga in the 1950s.
- Journeys in Time - Australian Aboriginal Tribes A joint project between Macquarie University and the State Library of New South Wales providing researchers and students with documentation from original English settlers. retrieved 16 January 2007.
- "The Kinship online learning module aims to provide a deeper understanding of the richly complex aboriginal Kinship system by learning about the components of Moiety, Totem, Skin Names, language and traditional affiliations and individual identity." © 2002-16 The University of Sydney.
- "First Languages Australia  is the peak body for regional languages centres around Australia.