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Office of Sport


The game of Munhanganing was reported being played by children of the Arnhem Land in northern Australia. Children played this and other running games in the flickering lights from the firebrands of the grown-ups sitting about a camp site.


  • Up to 40 players in two even teams
  • One team is called munhanganing (gecko lizard) and the other team is named after a beetle or other insect, eg a fly (wurrurlurl).

Playing area       

  • An area 40 metres long and 20 metres wide
  • A ‘tree’ area 3 metres square is marked 10 metres in from one end and in the centre of the area.

Game play and basic rules           

This is a tag game. One team (wurrurlurl) is scattered around the area while the other team (munhanganing) start behind the line at one end of the playing area.

On a signal, the munhanganing players begin chasing the players of the wurrurlurl. The munhanganing players try to catch (touch) the wurrurlurl players. Players from the wurrurlurl team can also become caught if they go outside the playing area when they are being chased.

The players that are caught are sent to the ‘tree’ area where they remain until all the players in their team are caught. After this, teams swap roles and start again.


In a competitive game teams are timed to see who can catch the other team in the fastest time.


  • Continuous play. When the referee calls, ‘swap’, the teams change roles. All caught players become ‘free’ when a swap is called. This game avoids concerns associated with eliminating players.
  • Players who are caught (touched) sit down where they are touched. Only the wurrurlurl players that have not been touched are able to move around the playing area.
  • Players from the wurrurlurl team wear a velcro belt or piece of cloth tucked into their shorts. They are caught when this is removed. The caught players leave the playing area and the belts/pieces of cloth are placed in a hoop just outside the playing area.
  • Players who are being chased use party clickers to imitate the sound of the munhanganing. This is close to the original version of the game.


The game is named after the small nocturnal gecko lizard called munhanganing in the Datiwuy language of Arnhem Land.

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