The Erawirung (Yirawirung, Jirawirung) people, also known as Yirau, Juju and other names, were an Aboriginal Australian people whose traditional territory was located in what is today the Riverland of South Australia. They consisted of sub-groups or clans, including Jeraruk, Rankbirit and Wilu, and have been referred to as Meru people, which was a larger grouping which could also include the Ngawait and Ngaiawang peoples.[1][2]


The Erawirung appear to have spoken a dialect of the Yuyu language common to their neighbours.[3] This language group is alternatively called the Meru language group, and is included under this name on the AIATSIS Language Map.[4]


According to Norman Tindale, Erawirung traditional lands covered about 1,300 square miles (3,400 km2), around the eastern bank of the Murray River, reaching from north of Paringa past Loxton into the sandy stretches some 24 kilometres (15 mi) to its south. Their western boundary reached from Rufus Creek into the vicinity of the Overland Corner.[5]

Social organisation and economy

The Erawirung were divided into hordes, of which the following are known:

They practiced circumcision alone, but not dental avulsion in initiation rites.[7]

chert mining in two of their localities, at Springcart Gully and at a site south of Renmark formed an important element of the Erawirung economy, and the areas were jealously defended from neighbouring tribes.[5]


Early ethnographers often classified the small Erawirung tribe as one of a collective group named the Meru people.[5] The Erawirung had slipped from the memory of the nearby Jarildekald by the time Ronald Murray Berndt interviewed the latter in the late 1930s-early 1940s.[8]

Alternative names

  • Eramwirrangu.
  • Erawiruck.
  • Jeraruk.
  • Yerraruck.
  • Yirau.
  • Pomp-malkie.[9]
  • Meru. (meru meaning 'man')
  • Juju. (Maraura exonym, ju being their word for 'no').
  • Yuyu, You-you.
  • Rankbirit.
  • Wilu, Willoo.[5]



  1. ^ Clarke, Philip (2009). "Chapter 6. Aboriginal culture and the Riverine environment". In Jennings, John T. (ed.). Natural History of the Riverland and Murraylands. Occasional Publications of the Royal Society of South Australia Inc. No. 9. Includes Tindale's Tribal Map of the South Australian section of the Murray Basin. Museum Archives, South Australian Museum. © Tony Tindale and Beryl George, 1974. Royal Society of South Australia Inc. pp. 142–161. ISBN 978-0-9596627-9-5. Retrieved 27 August 2020 – via ResearchGate.
  2. ^ "Aboriginal communities". People of the Murray River. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Austlang: S19 Yuyu". AIATSIS Collection. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Map of Indigenous Australia". AIATSIS. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e Tindale 1974, p. 211.
  6. ^ Shaw & Taplin 1879, p. 28.
  7. ^ Shaw & Taplin 1879, p. 29.
  8. ^ Berndt, Berndt & Stanton 1993, p. 305.
  9. ^ Fison & Howitt 1880, p. 289.