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Aboriginal missions in South Australia: Colebrook

Guide to resources relating to the history of Aboriginal missions in South Australia including records created by these missions.


City of Mitcham. Colebrook Blackwood Reconciliation park.

AIATSIS. South Australian Protector's reports can be browsed by year. Keyword searching within each report can locate relevant information.

Colebrook Home records

Records for the Colebrook Home are held at the United Aborigines Mission Archives in Melbourne, the State Library of South Australia and the National Library of Australia. The UAM is in the process of winding up its operations, and their records are currently unavailable. South Australian representatives are liaising with the UAM to help them to find a home for these important records.

For more information see Finding your own way, chapter 8 or the Find and connect website.

Archival material

Faith Thomas. Collection of photographs by Sisters Hyde and Rutter of Colebrook home.

Interview with George Tongerie, 2005. Includes details of his childhood at Colebrook Home.

Interview with Maude Tongerie, 2002. Includes details of her childhood at Colebrook Home.

Read more about the State Library's oral history collection here.

Getting started

This guide to sources relating to the Colebrook home was last updated by Library staff in 2016. It comprises selected material held by the State Library or available online.

To find further material relevant to this topic, try searching with thee subject headings in the State Library catalogue:

Colebrook home
Colebrook training centre
United Aborigines Mission

Or conduct a keyword search using the following term: Colebrook

For more assistance, talk with staff at the Library's Information Desk or Ask Us.

Books and pamphlets

Colebrook Home was previously Oodnadatta Children's Home, established by the United Aborigines Mission (UAM) in 1924, under the supervision of missionary Miss Annie Lock. In 1927, the home was moved to Quorn and was renamed Colebrook Children's Home, staffed by Matron Ruby Hyde and Sister Delia Rutter.

In 1944 the home moved to Eden Hills near Adelaide however there were problems as the children were not accepted at local schools until almost a decade later. By this time there was political turmoil within the UAM which caused much insecurity for the children, especially after the retirement of Matron Hyde and Sister Rutter in 1952.

Colebrook Home was closed in 1981, and the Eden Hills building no longer exists. The Colebrook Blackwood Reconciliation Park was opened at the former site by past residents, and features the poignant 'Grieving Mother' sculpture.

Barnes, Nancy. Munyi's daughter: a spirited brumby, 2000.

Finck, E.R. God is faithful: a 'leaf' in the life of Colebrook home, 1998.

Jacobs, Jane M, Laurence, Caroline and Thomas, Faith. 'Pearls from the deep: re-evaluating the early history of Colebrook Home for Aboriginal children' in Swain, Tony and Rose, Deborah Bird (eds). Aboriginal Australians and Christian missions: ethnographic and historical studies,1988.

Kartinyeri, Doris. Bush games and knucklebones, 2003.

Kartinyeri, Doris. Kick the tin, 2000.

McKenzie, Ruth. Molly Lennon's story : that's how it was, 1989.

Rintoul, Stuart. Lowitja : the authorised biography of Lowitja O'Donoghue, 2020. 

Survival in our own land : 'Aboriginal' experiences in 'South Australia' since 1836, Ch. 26 ‘Colebrook’.

Turner, V.E. Pearls from the deep: the story of Colebrook Home for Aboriginal Children. 1937.

United Aborigines Mission. Annual report of United Aborigines' Mission, 1939-1973, incomplete and Aborigine news, 1973-1983 (These have been indexed, to see records enter the title in the source field of the Library catalogue.)

Some well-known SA identities were children of Colebrook Home - Lowitja O'Donogue (Aboriginal Advocate and Public Servant), Faith Thomas (nee Coulthard) (International Women's Cricketer), Doris Kartinyeri (author) and George Tongerie (returned serviceman).

Some of the former residents experienced harsh treatment and the dislocation of broken cultural links and identify as members of the Stolen Generations, others recall a good education and fond memories of their caregivers - wide reading is therefore encouraged to understand the breadth of these different experiences.

Periodical articles

History Australia, vol. 2, no. 3, Dec 2005, Rani Kerin. ‘Charles Duguid and Aboriginal assimilation in Adelaide, 1950-1960: the nebulous 'assimilation' goal’. 

Thesis. 2004, Rani Kerin. 'Doctor Do-Good'? Charles Duguid and Aboriginal politics, 1930s-1970s. Online

Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 4 no. 4, July 1997, Trevor Blencowe. ‘Stirrings: Colebrook Home reunion’. Also online.

Westerly, vol. 52, Nov, 2007. Susan Hosking. ‘Colebrook Home and the Disappeared Past’.

Westerly, vol. 46, Nov, 2001. Susan Hosking. ‘Homeless at home, stolen and saved: three Colebrook autobiographies'.

To locate more journal articles, access the State Library's eResources.

Selected South Australian newspapers, published prior to 1955, have been digitised as part of the National Library of Australia’s Trove website.

Further newspaper articles may be identified by using the following, Newspaper index : references to Aborigines in Adelaide newspapers, 1836-1940. 1989.