Kaurna People - PirltawardliPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The park commemorates the Kaurna people who resided at the first Christian mission for Aboriginal people in South Australia which was established mid 1839, two and a half years after the Europeans landed at Glenelg.

It was built in the Adelaide Parklands, north of the River Torrens, opposite the site that became the Adelaide Gaol. Pirltawardli (meaning possum home) was already a regular camping ground for the Kaurna people, the local Aboriginal group known to the settlers as the ‘Adelaide tribe’.

Run by German Lutheran missionaries Christian Teichelmann, Clamor Schürmann and, later, Samuel Klose, the mission was for some years a substantial settlement. At its height it was a fenced area of 5.7 hectares and together with traditional wurlies contained pise (mud and straw) houses for the missionaries, and smaller pise huts and a pise school for the Kaurna people.

At the insistence of the missionaries the children were taught in the Kaurna language.


Address:War Memorial Drive, Pirltawardli, North Adelaide, 5006
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.917064
Long: 138.588074
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Park
Monument Theme:Culture
Approx. Event Start Date:1839


Front Inscription

Plaque :

Piltawodli (possum home )

This plaque is dedicated to the Kaurna People 

Wanti nindo ai kabba ? Ningkoandi Kuma yerta

"Where you have pushed me to ? You belong to another country "
This Kaurna song was sang by Ngurpo Williamse in 1844 in protest at the invasion of his country.

In May 1837 the Kaurna people led the 'Protector' of Aboriginies to a site across the river to begin the first native location in South Australia.  In late 1838 is was relocated to this place, known as the Kaurna people as Piltawodli possum home.  Here it included cottages for Kaurna families, cottages for missionaries, many wurlies and by late 1839 a permanent school. By the 1840`s Piltawodli was a fenced-in area extending over 14 acres.  Piltawodli is especially significant for the Kaurna people because it was here that almost everything we know about the Kaurna language was written down by German missionaries and others. 

This information was provided by the Kaurna people particularly Mullawirraburka (King John) Kadlitpinna (Captain Jack) and Irymaiitpinna (King Rodney) missionaries Schumann and Teichelmann published a grammar and vocabulary in 1840 and a long with missionary Klose, taught in the Kaurna language. Each day the children at the school sang or recited hymns, the ten commandments, a prayer and some Bible stories. 

They wrote several letters in Kaurna which still survive.  In 1845 the children were relocated to an English - Only Native school establishment on Kintore Avenue and there (sic) houses at Piltawodli were destroyed by soldiers. These children became the first of the stolen generation.  On 26 May 2000 many of the descendants of the children returned home to this site.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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