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Encounters. Indigenous contact and culture: a classroom resource

Caution: This website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Kaurna Miyurna country

Adelaide, South Australia

In 1836, the Kaurna Miyurna people discovered strangers making landfall in their country. Explore the effects British settlement had on the Kaurna Miyurna people and their ongoing efforts to revive and maintain their culture.

  • Map of Australia showing location of Adelaide, South Australia.
    Adelaide, South Australia
  • Landscape photo from above, showing gum trees in the foreground, a city and the ocean in the distance.
    Setting the scene
  • Shield, made of wood, decorated with red and white pigment
    Murlapaka (shield)
  • A wooden shield with an oval shaped centre and two narrow pointed ends. Painted white on one side with reddish-brown curved lines.
    Murlapaka (shield)
  • A curved wooden stick tapering slightly from top to bottom.
    Wirri (marriage stick)
  • A lacquered cylindrical shaped wooden stick with a bulbous end.
    Wirri (marriage stick)
  • Portrait of a man standing beside a video camera.
    Steve Goldsmith


Can you match the word to its meaning?

What do you know about Adelaide?

Video stories

Learn about the Kurruru Dancers at the Adelaide Spirit Festival

Note: there is no audio for this video. 

Activity: Have a class discussion about what stories you can see being told through dance? Think carefully about your community, lifestyle and culture. What stories would you tell in a dance about the place where you live and the activities your community takes part in?

More activities

Wirri (marriage stick)

Activity: The wirri (marriage stick) pictured above is used in Kaurna Miyurna wedding ceremonies, which have a number of rituals. Have you been to a wedding? What are some of the wedding rituals of your culture? How are these different or similar to what you have learnt about Kaurna Miyurna wedding ceremony rituals?


Activity: Read this quote from Kaurna Miyurna Elder Steve Goldsmith, 2014:

They talk about the civilised world coming to the untamed world, but I think it is the other way around. It was the barbarians that came to our civilised world here.

This reminds us that different groups often have very different perspectives of the same event and that history rarely represents all views. In small groups discuss the quote and think of some other examples, historical or modern-day, where the perspective of one group is not apparent. Present a summary of your discussions to the class.

Activity: Find out some more about the history of South Australia. You can start your research on the Adelaidia Kaurna people website. Also, have a look at Colonel Light’s plan of the city of Adelaide on the Mapco website. What are some of the things you can see on the map that Light thought would be important for the new settlement? Are there things not on the map you think he should have also included?
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