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Aboriginal people of South Australia: Kaurna

South Australian Aboriginal people and languages


Kaurna History and Culture Adelaide City Council.

Kaurna Warra Pintyandi Adelaide University.

Kaurna people. Adelaidia website.

Kaurna Place names

University of Adelaide publication- Kaurna language and people.

Parnatti (video)


Parnatti, created by UniSA's MOD with senior Kaurna custodian Karl 'Winda' Telfer shows the journey in preparation for the Kaurna season of Parnatti, between April and June.

Kaurna language materials

Kaurna warrapiipa = Kaurna dictionary : Kaurna to English, English to Kaurna, 2021.  

Kaurna Warra. Website with Kaurna language resources and information provided by language body, Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi, and Aboriginal corporation, Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi, which handles all requests for Kaurna names and translations.

Mobile Language Team. Kaurna.

Amery, Rob and Simpson, Jane. Kulurdu marni ngathaitya! = sounds good to me! : a Kaurna learner's guide, 2013.

Amery, Rob. 'The first Lutheran missionaries in South Australia and their contribution to Kaurna language reclamation...' in Journal of Friends of Lutheran Archives, 2000.

Amery, Rob. Warrabarna Kaurna! : reclaiming an Australian language, 2000.

Amery, Rob (ed). Warra Kaurna : a resource for Kaurna language program, 1995.

Kaurna language learning series (YouTube).

Teichelmann, CG and Schürmann CW. Outlines of a grammar, vocabulary, and phraseology, of the Aboriginal language of South Australia, spoken by the natives in and for some distance around Adelaide, 1962. (Original 1840).

This guide to sources relating to the Kaurna people was last updated 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 these subject headings in the State Library catalogue:

Kaurna (Australian people)
Aboriginal Australians - South Australia - Adelaide

Or conduct a keyword search using the following term:  Kaurna

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

Background and resources

Kaurna Aboriginal people are the Traditional Owners of the Adelaide plains in South Australia. Kaurna land extends north towards Crystal Brook, down the Adelaide plains, south along the coast to Cape Jervis and is bounded by the Mount Lofty Ranges to the east. The arrival of the European settlers disrupted the Kaurna way of life that relied on mobility within their defined territory. Within twenty years, many Kaurna had died from illnesses and diseases introduced by the settlers and the survivors were transported to a native settlement at Poonindie, near Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula. Since the 1960s people of Kaurna descent started to move back to Adelaide areas to live and revive Kaurna culture.

Aboriginal attractions guide : City of Adelaide, 2008.

Aboriginal voices : telling stories from the Port, 2005.

Allen, Yvonne et al. Footprints in the sand : Kaurna life in the Holdfast Bay area, 2001.

Brock, Peggy and Gara, Tom (eds). Colonialism and its aftermath : a history of Aboriginal South Australia, 2017.

Cawthorne, W.A. Sketch of the Aborigines of South Australia : references in the Cawthorne papers, 1991.

Telfer, Karl and Malone, Gavin. Kaurna Meyunna Cultural Mapping: A people’s living cultural landscape, 2012. (Produced for the Charles Sturt Council)

Djuwita, Riawati. W.A. Cawthorne and early Adelaide [manuscript] : an artists impressions, 1991.

Edwards, Meredith and Groome, Howard. The Kaurna people : a study of the original inhabitants of the Eastern coast of St. Vincent's Gulf, 1986.

Edwards, Robert. The Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, 1972.

Gara, Tom. Thebarton's first occupants : the Kaurna people, 1994.

Groome, Howard. The Kaurna, first people in Adelaide, 1981.

Kaurna meyunna, Kaurna yerta tampendi (Recognising Kaurna people and Kaurna land) : walking trail guide, 2002.

The Kaurna seasonal trail excursion : teacher's handbook, 1985.

Klose, Samuel. Missionary to the Kaurna : the Klose letters, 2002.

Kudlyo, the black swan dreaming : Veronica Brodie and the continuity of Kaurna history at Glanville and Le Fevre Peninsula, 1994.

McBride, Gerald. Adelaide's recipe for life : wisdom of the Kaurna, 2000. Also online

Mühlhäusler, Peter (ed). Hermann Koeler's Adelaide : observations on the language and culture of South Australia by the first German visitor, 2006.

Owen, Timothy and Cowie, Diana (eds). Stories from Kaurna, 2015.

Simpson, Jane and Hercus, Luise. History in portraits : biographies of nineteenth century South Australian Aboriginal people, 1998.

Stephens, Edward. The aborigines of Australia : being personal recollections of those tribes which once inhabited the Adelaide Plains of South Australia. 1889.

Teichelmann, C.G. Aborigines of South Australia : illustrative and explanatory notes of the manners, customs, habits, and superstitions of the natives of South Australia, 1962.

Learn Kaurna with Jack Buckskin

Periodical articles

To locate 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.

Archival material

Kimber, R.G. An investigation of the reasons for the conflict between Aboriginal people and Europeans in the early years of contact in South Australia.

Radio program 'Perspectives on Aborigines': Radio 5UV. Includes episode about the Kaurna with speakers Howard Groom and Jim Warburton. 1981