Courier Mail article by Peter Michael and Natalie Gregg

He is a living relic and an ancient linguistic treasure.Kuku Thaypan elder Tommy George, 82, is the sole surviving fluent speaker of his language.


Kuku Thaypan elder Tommy George. Picture: Brian Cassey Photography

“I’m the last of them,” said the son of an Aboriginal king. “Everybody knows that.”

When the famed tracker dies, 48,000 years of oral history – from beyond the Dreamtime – dies with him.

Kuku Thaypan, one of four Aboriginal languages spoken in Quinkan country on Cape York, is destined for extinction like 120 other dialects lost across Australia since European settlement.

Despite efforts of academics, the primordial tongue and ancient secrets of the old healer handed down from generation to generation will likely vanish.

It is estimated that of more than 300 specific Aboriginal languages in use pre-British arrival, there will be fewer than 100 left by 2050.

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