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Aboriginal missions in South Australia: Poonindie

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


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

Poonindie records

Records for Poonindie are held by the State Library of South Australia and State Records South Australia.

See Find and Connect for more information.

Archival material

Aborigines' Trust. Records of the Aborigines' Trust.

Farr, Gertrude M. Historical notes on Poonindie Mission.

Hale, Mathew B. Papers of Mathew Blagden Hale, comprising diaries, papers, correspondence and press cuttings.

Poonindie Mission. Records of the Anglican Church's Poonindie Mission.

Somerville, James. Papers relating to Poonindie Mission and the Church of England on Eyre Peninsula

Getting started

This guide to sources relating to Poonindie 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 this subject headings in the State Library catalogue:

Poonindie Mission

Or conduct a keyword search using the following term: Poonindie

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

Books and pamphlets

Poonindie was established in 1850 by Adelaide Archdeacon Matthew Hale as a ‘training institution’ for young Aboriginal families. Land outside of Port Lincoln was chosen because it was relatively isolated at that time.

At first Poonindie was only to take young people who had some basic schooling and Christian education. The first group of residents (originally from the Adelaide Plains and River Murray region) had been educated at the Adelaide school, and at Poonindie they were expected to live a Christian lifestyle, form nuclear families and learn domestic and agricultural skills. When the Adelaide school closed in 1852, Poonindie lost this pool of future residents, and soon they were persuaded by the Protector of Aborigines to accept people from across South Australia, and some from Western Australia.

Living conditions at Pooninidie were basic - there was no running water, and there were problems with poor health, over-crowding and a lack of essentials - but once established Poonindie was almost entirely self sufficient, thanks to a successful farming enterprise.

The Anglican church closed Poonindie in 1894 and the land was divided and leased. Many former residents moved to Point McLeay or Point Pearce, but some stayed on the land, or on the Aboriginal Reserve that had been established nearby, hoping to secure a parcel of land for their family to run. Only one Aboriginal resident of Poonindie was successful in obtaining a lease on ex-Poonindie land, whilst a few were granted leases to work land on the Aboriginal Reserve.

Brock, Peggy. Outback ghettos: Aborigines, institutionalisation and survival, 1993.

Brock, Peggy. Poonindie: the rise and destruction of an Aboriginal agricultural community, 1989. (This has been indexed, to see records enter the title in the source field of the Library catalogue.)

Hale, Mathew B. The Aborigines of Australia: being an account of the institution for their education at Poonindie..., 1889. Also available online.

Short, Augustus. A visit to Poonindie, and some accounts of that mission to the aborigines of South Australia, 1872.

Short, Augustus. The Poomindie Mission (sic): described in a letter from the Lord Bishop of Adelaide to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, 1853.

Survival in our own land : 'Aboriginal' experiences in 'South Australia' since 1836, Ch. 20 ‘Poonindie’.

Walsh, P.B. The problem of native policy in South Australia in the nineteenth century: with particular reference to the Church of England Poonindie Mission 1850-1896, 1966.

Poonindie Mission

Mission Station, Poonindie. B 7990.

Periodical articles

Aboriginal History. vol .11, nos 1-2, 1987. Brock, Peggy. 'Writing Aboriginal collective biography: Poonindie, South Australia, 1850-1894. History of an Aboriginal mission.'

Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia. no. 37, 2009. Bott, Bruce, 'Octavius Hammond of Poonindie: medical practitioner and priest.'

Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia. no.12, 1984. Tregenza, John. 'Two notable portraits of South Australian Aborigines.'

Sporting Traditions. vol. 10, no. 2 , May 1994. Daly, John A. 'Civilising' the Aborigines: cricket at Poonindie SA, 1850-1890'. via Informit.

University Studies in History. vol. 5, no. 2, 1968. Robin, A. de Q. 'Mathew Blagden Hale and the Poonindie experiment'.

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.