Kaurna place naming

Recognising Kaurna heritage through physical features of the city.

In 1997 the City of Adelaide was among the first Councils to sign a Reconciliation Statement. Guiding Principle 5 states:

"Council acknowledges the prior occupation of this land by the Kaurna people, and will seek opportunities to recognise Kaurna heritage through physical features of the City and by supporting community cultural activities”.

This resulted in the Kaurna Naming Project. Council worked in consultation with appropriate authorities and community organisations to draw up an initial list identifying Kaurna names for city Park Lands and squares. By March 2012 Council had endorsed the Kaurna naming or dual naming of all Park Lands and Squares.

As you move throughout the city, you’ll see Kaurna signage has been installed across all 29 Adelaide city Park Lands. You’ll also see Kaurna signage at Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga and the River Torrens/Karrawirra Parri. The Council worked closely with Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi (KWP), Kaurna Elders and Council’s Reconciliation Committee in the development of text for the signage.

Pronunciation of significant sites

Click on the Kaurna names below to hear the pronunciation for the significant parks, squares and landmarks.

Click on each 'Kaurna meaning' for information on the history of the name.

Parks

Park numberPark name and pronunciation Kaurna meaning
1 Possum Park / Pirltawardli‘possum place'
2 Denise Norton Park / Pardipardinyilla‘swimming place'
3Yam Daisy Park / Kantarilla ‘kandara root place'
4 Reservoir Park / Kangatilla‘kangatta berry place'
5Bragg Park / Ngampa Yarta ‘ngampa root ground'
6Lefevre Park / Nantu Wama ‘horse plain'
7The Olive Groves / Kuntingga ‘kunti root place'
8The Olive Groves / Parngutilla ‘barngutta root place'
9Bundey’s Paddock / Tidlangga ‘tidla root place'
10Bulrush Park / Warnpangga ‘bullrush root place'
11Mistletoe Park / Tainmuntilla ‘mistletoe place'
12Red Gum Park / Karrawirra ‘river red gum forest'
13Rundle Park / Kadlitpina ‘Captain Jack'
14Rymill Park / Murlawirrapurka ‘King John'
15King Rodney Park / Ityamai-itpina ‘King Rodney'
16Victoria Park / Pakapakanthi ‘to trot: a term applied to horses'
17Carriageway Park / Tuthangga ‘grass place'
18Peppermint Park / Wita Wirra ‘peppermint grove/place'
19Pelzer Park / Pityarilla ‘marshmallow root place'
20Blue Gum Park / Kurangga ‘blue gum place'
21Veale Park / Walyu Yarta ‘walyo root ground'
21wGolden Wattle Park / Mirnu Wirra  ‘golden wattle grove'
22Josie Agius Park / Wikaparntu Wirra ‘netball park'
23G S Kingston Park / Wirrarninthi ‘to become wirra'
24Ellis Park (and Ellis Park Road) / Tampawardli  ‘plain place'
25Gladys Elphick Park / Narnungga ‘native pine place'
26Tarntanya Wama ‘Adelaide plain/oval'
27Bonython Park / Tulya Wardli ‘Police barracks'
28Palmer Gardens / Pangki Pangki 
‘Kaurna tracker and guide'
29Brougham Gardens / Tantutitingga  
‘Native lilac place'

Squares

Landmarks

Landmark name and pronunciationKaurna meaning
River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari 'Redgum Forest River'
Main Lake Botanic Garden / Kainka Wirra 'Redgum Forest'
Lightning Bridge / Karntu Waadlakatha'Lightning Bridge'
Red Gum Forest Bridge / Kainkawirra Waadlakatha'Red gum forest bridge'
Frome Park / Nellie Raminyemmerin ParkExplore name information

Name history

The Kaurna translation of Pirltawardli is possum place.

Pardipardinyilla is the Kaurna word for swimming place, and Denise Norton was the first South Australian to represent Australia at the Olympic or Commonwealth Games – in the sport of swimming.

The Kaurna translation of Yam Daisy or kandara root is Kantarilla, which was a regular food source for Kaurna people at the time of Adelaide’s establishment.

Kangatilla’s translation is Kangatta berry in Kaurna language – a type of berry eaten by Kaurna people at the time of Adelaide’s establishment. The name Reservoir Park comes from the 1879 State Heritage-listed reservoir that is also a distinctive feature of the park.

Ngampa Yarta is a Kaurna word which refers to a type of native vegetable eaten by Kaurna people at the time of Adelaide’s establishment. 

The family of scientific pioneers Sir William Henry Bragg and his son, Sir William Lawrence Bragg, lived at the park’s nearby Lefevre Terrace in the late 1800s. The pair were awarded the joint Nobel Prize in 1915 for their work on x-rays.

Nantu Wama translates to horse plain in Kaurna language and was given this name due to the horse agistment which occurs on the site, which is bordered by Lefevre Terrace to the west. Sir J G Shaw-Lefevre was one of South Australia’s colonisation commissioners. The park is the last remaining location for horse and pony activities in the Park Lands. 

The Kaurna translation for Kuntingga is kunti root place, and the kunti root was eaten by the Kaurna people. A renowned characteristic of the park is the state heritage listed olive groves. Given that Kuntingga and Parngutilla are small and adjacent to one another, the same English language name for each is used.

The Kaurna translation for parngutilla is barngutta root place; a root resembling a potato eaten by the Kaurna people. A renowned characteristic of the park is the state heritage listed olive groves. Given that Kuntingga and Parngutilla are small and adjacent to one another, the same English language name for each is used.

The Kaurna translation for tidlangga is tidla root place. Historically, this park was known as Bundey’s Paddock in the 1880s; referring to the location on Bundeys Road, while also referencing William Bundey; the Mayor of Adelaide from 1883-86.

The Kaurna translation for Warnpangga is bullrush root place. 

The Kaurna translation of tainmuntilla is mistletoe place.

Karrawirra translates to Red Gum in Kaurna language, and is home to Peace Park. The park contains several memorials, and is also the location of several sports fields; including the Linear Trail which runs adjacent to the River Torrens.

This park is named after two prominent historical figures: Kadlitpina and John Rundle. Kadlitpina was known to the colonists as Captain Jack; a well-known Kaurna elder at the time Adelaide was established, while John Rundle was one of 4 the original directors of the South Australia Company which was formed in London in 1834 to promote settlement of the colony.

Murlawirrapurka is the name of a Kaurna Elder the colonists referred to as King John, and Sir Arthur Campbell Rymill was Lord Mayor of Adelaide from 1950-1953.

Ityamai-itpina was one of three main Kaurna Elders the colonists negotiated with, and was referred to as King Rodney.

Pakapakanthi is the Kaurna word for trotting, and refers to the former use of this park as a racecourse from 1846-2007. Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901.

Tuthangga is the Kaurna word for grass place, and a well-known feature of this Park is the elm trees which line a former carriageway, planted in the 1860s.

Wita wirra translates to peppermint place in Kaurna language, and this park includes the Osmond and Himeji Gardens.

The Kaurna translation of pityarilla is marshmallow; paying homage to the park’s Marshmallow Playground. August Pelzer was Adelaide’s city gardener from 1899 to 1932 and his influence is evident in the layout of Osmond Gardens, and elsewhere throughout the Park Lands.

The Kaurna translation of kurangga is blue gum place.

The Kaurna translation of Walyu Yarta is walyu root ground, and William Veale was the Town Clerk of Adelaide between 1947 and 1965. He presided over much of Adelaide’s post-war development which had a particular impact on the Park Lands.

The Kaurna translation of mirnu wirra is golden wattle, which is a historic feature of the park planted in association with the wattle grove originally in the east of the park to commemorate the landing of Australian troops at Gallipoli.

Wikaparntu wirra is a newly-constructed Kaurna word that translates to netball park, and Josie Agius was a prominent Kaurna elder who supported girls’ sport in the numerous netball courts situated throughout this park.

The Kaurna translation of wirrarninthi is to become green and forested, and G S Kingston was Deputy Surveyor and the politician credited with substantially assisting Colonel Light in the layout of Adelaide.

The Kaurna translation of tampawardli is plain place or home on the plains due to the collection of tents which formed Emigration Square in the 1830s and 1840s. Val Bertram Harold Ellis served as City of Adelaide Director of Parks and Recreation from 1966-83. The name extends over the entire park, with Ellis Park Road running through the centre of it.

Narnungga translates to native pine place. This name was adopted due to the likely location of the native pine. Gladys Elphick was a prominent Kaurna elder who was founding president of the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia (1964-73), known as a strong advocate for Kaurna women.

The Kaurna translation of tarntanya wama is Adelaide Oval; derived from the word for Adelaide (tarntanya) and the word for plain (wama). The English names for various parts of this park remain. The Kaurna name only applies to the park as a whole.

The Kaurna translation of tulya wardli is police barracks, named after the Thebarton Barracks which are situated close to the Park. Sir John Lavington Bonython served as both Mayor and Lord Mayor of Adelaide. The park is also home to John E Brown Park, Mary Lee Park, Helen Mayo Park and Kate Cocks Park.

Pangki Pangki was a Kaurna tracker and guide, and Colonel George Palmer (1799-1883) was a South Australian Colonisation Commissioner.

The Kaurna translation of tantutitingga is native lilac place. Native lilac (Hardenbergia) is a native flower with a wide distribution. Lord Brougham (1778-1868) was Lord High Chancellor of the United Kingdom and founder of the London University.

The Kaurna translation of tarntanyangga is red kangaroo dreaming. Tandanya (or tarntanya) was the dundagunya tribe’s central camp, and located where the current square sits today. Princess Victoria was heir to the throne of England, later Queen Victoria.

Mukata was one of the four wives of Mullawirrabirka (Kaurna Elder) and Sir John Hindmarsh (1785-1860) was the first Governor of South Australia.

Tangkaira or ‘Charlotte’, from the Clare District, was the wife of Ityamai-itpina (Kaurna Elder) and James Hurtle Fisher was the first Resident Commissioner of South Australia, the first Mayor of Adelaide and the first resident South Australian to be knighted.

Wauwi was the wife of Kadlitpina (Kaurna Elder), and Colonel William Light (1786-1839) was the first Surveyor-General of South Australia responsible for the development of the 1837 Adelaide Plan.

Kudnartu (also known as Kudnarto) was the name of a Kaurna ancestor from the Clare district. As well as being a Kaurna ancestor, her marriage to Tom Adams was the first official Aboriginal/settler marriage in South Australia. Arthur Wellesley was the first Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), defeated Napoleon at Waterloo and was responsible for Colonel Light’s appointment.

Iparrityi was born in the 1840s in Port Adelaide, and is often referred to as ‘the last woman of the Adelaide Tribe’ who is also known as a legendary figure. 

Mr W Wolryche Whitmore (1787-1858) was one of the Colonisation Commissioners and a member of the House of Commons, who brought the South Australia Act before the House of Commons on behalf of the South Australian Association.

This park is named after two prominent historical figures: Nellie Raminyemmerin and Captain Frome. Nellie Raminyemmerin was a Kaurna woman who was kidnapped from the banks of the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari and taken to Kangaroo Island in the 1800s. 

Captain Frome was the third Surveyor-General of Adelaide, and made a notable contribution to the development of the colony, taking on the additional duties of colonial engineer, running the Land Office, while also being an artist.

The City of Adelaide acknowledges the services of Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi in providing the initial content of this page.

Signatories: Dr Alice Wallara Rigney, Lewis O'Brien and Rob Amery

Final content approved after consultation with Kaurna Meyunna, Kaurna Elders and KACHA.