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From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of person Group

Principal occupation Original occupants of the land

Ngadlu Kaurna meyunna tampendi. Parna yerta mattanya bukkiunangko. Ngadlu tampendi Kaurna meyunna burro purruna. Pangkarra Womma Kaurna, Kaurnakundi yerta.

'We acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional owners of this land. We acknowledge their living culture and unique role in the life of this region.' The area of present day Mallala is traditionally part of the lands of the Kaurna people. Kaurna lands extend north towards Crystal Brook, across the Adelaide plains, south towards Cape Jervis on the coast, and are bounded by the Mount Lofty ranges on the east. Kaurna lands consist of around 2800 square miles, and are bordered by those of the Peramangk and Ngadjuri to the east, Nukunu to the north, and the Naragga to the west. Kaurna people share a common language, social organisation and belief system but traditionally lived in smaller, family-based communities, which generally occupied defined territories, sometimes called ‘pangkarra’ or ‘yerta’.

On 30 January 1842 the Register recorded a population of 650 Kaurna people in South Australia, but the arrival of Europeans led to a rapid decline in numbers. The collision of two cultures, encounters with the European justice system, and new diseases, all devastated the Kaurna population. The mortality rate went up and the number of children born went down. A 1985 history of the local area, compiled by the Mallala and District History Book Committee, reports that ‘[t]hey had lost land, tradition, livelihood and with that the basics of all their culture and social supports. Ravages of white man's disease did the rest’.

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve and support living Kaurna culture, with Kaurna language being taught in some schools, and the University of Adelaide project Kaurna Warra Pintyandi, among others, documenting and teaching Kaurna language and culture.

Related Articles


  • Life around the Light: A history of the Mallala District Council area. compiled by Two Wells. Mallala and District History Book Committee. Community Development Board of the Council District of Mallala (Mallala. S. Aust.)
  • SA Memory: Aboriginal Rights
  • State Library of South Australia (retrieved 14 September 2009)

Memories of Kaurna

So little of the history of the original occupants of the area has been recorded, and seemingly few signs of habitation remain

Do you remember Kaurna ? Then Join up and add your memory here.

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