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Foreword

The Kaurna
   Skillogolee Creek
   Before Settlement
   Tribal Organisation
   Population
   Nantowarra
   Sexual Relations
   European Views
   Footnotes

Kudnarto
   Warrawarra
   Birth Date
   Names
   Footnotes

Early Years
   Daily Life
   Child Rearing
   Food
   Food Gathering
   Shelter
   Gatherings
   Education
   Cooking
   Fire
   Tanning
   Games
   Schools
   Footnotes

Marriage
   Puberty
   Ceremony
   Sexual Relations
   Footnotes

Settlement
   John Hill
   Horrocks
   Rape
   Surveying
   Stanley County
   Skillogolee Creek
   Auburn
   Watervale
   Penwortham
   Emu Plains
   Clare
   Bundaleer
   Footnotes

Land Grants
   The Protector
   The Reality
   Early Days
   Land Selection
   Land Holdings
   Land Usage
   Racial Theories
   Footnotes

Shepherds
   Tensions
   Killing
   Double Standards
   More Killing
   Harem Life
   Prostitution
   Ferguson's Place
   Deserting Husbands
   Rape
   Sex and Sheep
   Footnotes

Adams
   Problems
   Adams' Birth
   Humberstone
   The Adams Family
   Ann Mason
   Edward Adams
   Conditions
   Labourer's Life
   Footnotes

Literacy
   Was he literate?
   Writing Skills
   Graphology
   Hale
   Evidence
   School
   Other People
   Adams' Letters
   Footnotes

Childhood
   A Carpenter?
   Birth Information
   Van Dieman's Land
   South Australia
   Port Adelaide
   Emigration Agents
   Sheep
   Labourer's Lot
   Crystal Brook
   Footnotes

Engagement
   Notice
   Reasons
   Feelings
   Minor
   Engagement
   Drinking Problems
   Footnotes

Wedding
   Registry Office
   Established View
   Kudnarto's Dress
   High Fashion
   Wedding Ceremony
   Footnotes

Land
   Land Please
   Lodgement
   I have a dream
   Opposition
   Processing
   Approval
   The Licence
   Notification
   Scams
   Footnotes

Farming
   The House
   Who Gains
   Farming Capital
   Reality sets in
   Tom
   Murray
   Inheritance
   Footnotes

Copper
   Port Henry
   Bullock Drays
   Watering Holes
   Gold
   Skilly Creek
   Footnotes

Murder

The Trial

Skilly Creek
   Money Problems
   Leasing
   Tim
   Eviction
   Problems
   Separation
   Sharefarming
   Footnotes

Death
   Single Life
   Kudnarto's Death
   Loss of Land
   Poonindie
   Footnotes

Land Claim
   Unresolved Issues
   Terra Nullius
   Land Conflict
   Subtext
   Licence
   Promises
   The Facts
   Footnotes

Epilogue
   Significance
   At One

Biographies
   People
   Hotels

Letters
   Adams' Letters
   Replies

Handwriting
   Dissection
   Tabulation
   Analysis

Police Court

Trial Report

The Civilising
   1840
   White Women
   Contact
   Missionary activity
   Footnotes
   Bibliography

1860 Report
   1860
   Report Origins
   Attitudes
   Infanticide
   Sterility
   Promiscuity
   Health
   Gender Imbalance
   Blame the victims
   British Law
   Land Loss
   Social Alienation
   Tokenism
   Conclusions
   Footnotes
   Bibliography

Tom & Tim
   Introduction
   Poonindie
   Footnotes

Bibliography
   Primary Sources
   Secondary Sources

Kudnarto

Chapter 1 ~ The Kaurna

Skillogolee Creek    Before Settlement    Tribal Organisation    Population    Nantowarra    Sexual Relations    European Perceptions    Footnotes   

Skillogolee Creek

On 11 February 1995, the sun's warming rays spread across many bunches of luxuriantly hanging but immature Rhine Riesling grape berries. Each cluster appeared shaded by profuse foliage covering the trellised vines. Gnarled grey stems supported the vines. Every bough sat firmly rooted in a rich black soil that spread across the expanse like a fertile carpet. Similar to a loving mother, the soil nurtured all the propitious flora into robust maturity.

Wending its way around the plain's boundary was a gently flowing creek. Its translucent water was so clear that its bed, covered with a profusion of smooth rocks and soil, shimmered in the sun. The creek trickled soothingly until it reached the rocks that formed a 2 metre high waterfall. At that point it cascaded over in a refreshing shower.

Magnificent Redgum trees stood along its banks as silent sentinels. They appeared to guard the splendour of the moment. At the northern end of the creek, there was some swampy ground with a water source from a natural spring. Covering the wet lands were luxuriant growths of flax. Their wispy grey flowers reached to the sky like supplicant but proud hands.

Brown, barren looking hills covered with light yellow stubble surrounded this lush green oasis. Also, some of the land covering the hills were extremely stony. Each stone was rough and irregular giving the hills a distinct look as if it were a caramel blancmange covered with specks of icing sugar.

Dotted over the hilly landscape and surrounded by a sea of tawny stubble tall trees stood isolated and alone. The shade cast by the trees was broad and welcoming, offering a haven to all who came beneath the lofty, noble boughs. Under the wide spread foliage of each tree, small flocks of sheep sheltered to escape the harsh summer heat. It was a warm dry day.

Dominating the geographical relief of the area was the highest peak in this valley known as Pleasant Hill. Both sites, wonderfully contrasting when seen together, are situated on the Port Wakefield Road. Once at the peak of the road, it is easy to gaze in a westerly direction. This gives a view over all the plains that stretch over the horizon to St Vincent's Gulf and Yorke Peninsular. To the South, the Adelaide plains are very visible, punctuated by the hills that rise in a haze in the distance. To the North, there is a luxuriantly fertile area following Skillogolee Creek to the Clare Valley.

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Before Settlement

Before European settlement in South Australia, the Kaurna [1] people lived throughout this region. Their territory stretched throughout the Adelaide plains area from Cape Jervois in the south, to Port Wakefield in the north. The boundary followed the eastern shore of St. Vincent Gulf. Stretching on average to 100 kilometres inland, the region incorporated an area of over 7,200 square kilometres.

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Tribal Organisation

Within the geographic region identified as being occupied by the Kaurna people were numerous independent family groups. Each group traversed a well-defined territory that they called the pangkarra. [2] The term pangkarra signifies a vast extent of land reaching to the horizon but running alongside a body of water. This idea aptly describes the location of the various pangkarras that ran alongside the western banks of St Vincent's Gulf and incorporated the adjacent hinterland. The particular pangkarra gave the resident family group a good entitlement to sea-food gathering areas. They could also retreat to the interior for shelter and food during the cold weather.

To cope with issues that stretch beyond the family, the Kaurna collectivised the various pankarra into larger units. The Kaurna called them, yerta. [3] Early scholars failed to understand the nature of the yerta by mistakenly calling them 'tribes'. The term ‘tribe’ in this context is too simplistic to describe the complex relationship between the various family groups coupled with the economic, social and religious functions they performed.

PLACE

CURRENT LOCATION

Kauwandilla

coastal flats north of Glenelg east to Mt Lofty. The suburb Kawandilla bears its name.

Medaindi

the coastal region extending east from Glenelg which incorporated the Adelaide area. The suburb of Medindie bears its name.

Muliakki

incorporates the region extending from Port Adelaide to Port Gawler.

Padnaindi

the region in the north extending from Port Wakefield, Clare and Crystal Brook.

Putpunga

the southern region extending from Noarlunga to Rapid Bay.

Widninga

the region extending from Port Wakefield to Port Gawler and inland to Gawler.

Winnaynie

the region extending from Glenelg southwards to Noarlunga and Willunga

Wirra

the hill region from Gawler to Adelaide

Yurreidla

from Mount Lofty to Mount Barker

Table 1. Adelaide Area Kaurna Place Names
Information is extracted from Teichelmann, C.G., and Schürmann, C.W., (1840), Outlines of a Grammar, Vocabulary, and Phraseology of the Aboriginal Language of South Australia, Adelaide.

Each yerta had intimate ties to the pangkarra included within its territory. Although the Kaurna people have dissappeared, their names still remain as a reminder to South Australians that there was a people who lived in the area. The locations of the many Kaurna yerta and their individual names have now been incorporated within the human geography and nomenclature of the Adelaide suburban network. Table 1 illustrates the incorporation within the Adelaide region.

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Population

The total population of the Kaurna region prior to European settlement is unknown. However, judging from the available evidence, it would be safe to estimate that the Kaurna people comprised about 1,000 people. Subsequent to settlement, the only reliable figures were compiled by Matthew Moorhouse, the Protector of Aborigines. [4] After his period as Protector, he produced a Estimate of Native Population which showed a gradual decrease of the local Aboriginal population in an area 100 kilometres north and a further 100 kilometres south of Adelaide, running parallel with the coast to 30 kilometres inland covering an area of some 6,000 square kilometres. The figures detailed in Table 2. are depressing in their diminution of population numbers.

YEAR

POPULATION

YEAR

POPULATION

1841

650

1849

360

1842

630

1850

330

1843

560

1851

320

1844

550

1852

290

1845

520

1853

270

1846

500

1854

230

1847

420

1855

210

1848

400

1856

180

Table 2. Estimated Population of the Kaurna People from 1841 - 1856
(Compiled by M. Moorhouse and extracted from the Appendix attached to The Legislative Council Select Committee, (1860) Report on the Aborigines, Paper 167, SA Govt Printer.)

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Nantowarra

The northern yerta of the Kaurna people took the name of Nantowarra. [5] Their reputation as ferocious people spread far and wide over the Kaurna lands and that of their neighbours. To illustrate their ferocity, the southern Kaurna people gave them the further name of meyukattanna, or quarrelsome men. [6] Quick anger and violent conduct characterised their behaviour among the Kaurna people and various neighbouring groups. Being the extreme northern branch of the Kaurna tribe, these people demonstrated very vigorous and strong beliefs in their particular culture.

Nearby the Nantowarra were yerta of three distinct and independent linguistic groupings, the Narungga, the Nugunu and the Ngadjuri. The close association and interactions of these groups with the Kaurna created consequential stresses upon social values and language articulation. Responses thereby required the Nantowarra to be absolutely certain of their own specific yerta culture.

The conflict generated by continuous close encounters between two distinct cultures find parallels throughout the world. Each cultural clash bears with it bitter rivalry and conflict. The millennial disputes between the British and French on the one hand and the Chinese and Vietnamese on the other, illustrate the wide spread nature of these conflicts. It was no different between the Kaurna and the Nugunu.

The rivalry between the Nantowarra and the Nugunu found it firmest articulation within the Kaurna name employed to describe their immediate neighbour. The Kaurna name for the Nugunu was the Nokunna. The term does not convey any friendly feeling towards the Nugunu.

Nokunna is a term which in Kaurna society describes a mythical assassin. The feared Nokunna took the form of an Aboriginal person and prowled around the night time camps finding victims to murder. It is a term calculated to invoke fear and loathing among the Kaurna people.

Teichelmann described the fear that the nokunna inspires among the Kaurna people when he wrote:

According to the opinions of the Aborigines, few of them die a natural death. The reason of a natural death is kuinyo, meaning death, a deceased person, or a being of small figure, large abdomen, disagreeable smell, and afraid of fire; therefore he generally comes in the night, when the fires are out ... In the night they dread more particularly the nokunna, a distant native, who steals upon them, stabs them, and they must generally die. His coming they prevent by striking with their wirri, the air round the hut in different directions, before they lie down, but keep, besides this precaution, all night a watch. [7]

To describe the Nugunu in such a manner strongly suggests that the relationships between the two peoples were very tense.

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Sexual Relations

Since each yerta was a discrete community, it was prohibited for a person to marry within their same yerta. People were actively encouraged to marry someone from an alternative place. Due to the smallness of the gene pool, women took advantage of the availability of the visitation of other men from different groups even though married. Marriage was never seen as a barrier to further sexual contact.

One practice designed to increase the potential gene pool was the mutual and acrimonious practice of wife stealing, or milla mangkondi. [8] This particularly bitter practice raised enormous tension between the parties involved. The worst affront was the theft of the young wife belonging to an elder. Such interaction led to a rigid application of tribal mores and culture. However, despite this antipathy towards wife stealing, all participated in the activity with gusto.

The inhabitants of the lands around the Adelaide region spent many thousands of years developing a sophisticated culture which was complete for the circumstances in which the people found themselves. Each family group had its own lands upon which they could hunt or gather food. On specific occasions, each family group came together with others to form a sub-tribe. Each sub-tribe was a discrete unit which could deal with all the major problems that arose with the families and their contact with each other and other peoples.

Around the Clare region where the story of Kudnarto takes place, the people were known to be fierce. They were people of the northern sub-tribe known as the Nantowarra. This group was known to fear its neighbours. Even the word for their immediate neighbours confirms this fear.

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European Perceptions

Without knowledge of these traditions, the British settlers entered into the Adelaide plains. Although it was known that the area was inhabited, no one in Britain thought it necessary to canvass the opinions of the indigenous people about their impending settlement plans. This is not surprising considering the poor press given to the indigenous people in Australia. For instance, Samuel Marsden, the New South Wales assistant chaplain who arrived in 1794 wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the New Zealand Mission on 24 February 1819:

"They are the most degraded of the human race, and never seem to wish to alter their habits and manner of life ... as they increase in years, they increase in vice." [9]

Another Christian minister, a Wesleyan, the Reverend William Walker described the Aborigines in a letter to his friend, the Reverend Watson as "the progeny of him who was cursed to be a servant of servants to his brethren." [10]

Thus in total ingnorance of the prevailing population, the British Parliament passed and assented to the South Australian Act on 14 August 1834. [11] Within the preamble of the Act, the principle of terra nullius [12] received its articulation when it baldly stated that South Australia "... consists of waste and unoccupied lands which are supposed to be fit for colonisation". [13] This misunderstanding of cultures led to the Kudnarto and Adams story and its final tragedy.

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Footnotes

1. The word Kaurna is usually pronounced "Garner" or "Gowna" depending upon the source.  Return to text

2. The word is a derivative from the substantive pangka, which has the specific meaning of a lake or a lagoon but its meaning also incorporates the concept of a vast area including a vast expanse of water such as the ocean. The latter part of the word arra, is a postfix denoting the sense of being alongside.  Return to text

3. yerta means earth; land; soil; country. The term yerta is a derivative of two words, yera, a term which indicates the presence of the earth and ta, a word that imports the idea of eating although it literally means mouth. Put together the term carries the image of people being able to sustain themselves upon a section of soil. This conveys the image of a complete territory which is able to sustain a group with all economic necessities.  Return to text

4. The three Protectors of Aboriginese were:

    Captain Bromley, 1836 - 1838
    William Wyatt, 1838 - 1839
    Matthew Moorhouse, 1839 - 1857

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5. Nantowarra - kangaroo speakers. Nanto = male kangaroo; Warra = language.  Return to text

6. Tindale, W.B., (1974), Aboriginal Tribes of Australia, Canberra, Volume 1, p. 213.  Return to text

7. Teichelmann, G.G.(1841), Aborigines of South Australia, SA Wesleyan Methodist Auxiliary Missionary Society, Adelaide, p. 10.  Return to text

8. milla mangkondi - to steal or take a wife by force. From milla, a substantive noun denoting violence or force; and, mangkondi, a verb active conveying the sense of touching or taking hold of a woman with a specific reference to a young woman. Wife stealing was a regular practice among the Kaurna and the neighbouring yerta. It served to increase the available gene pool by introducing new blood into the various small and isolated family groups.  Return to text

9. Roberts, J., (1981) Massacres To Mining - The Colonisation of Aboriginal Australia, Dove Communications, Victoria, p. 38.  Return to text

10. Ibid, p. 38.  Return to text

11. Act XCV, 4o & 5o Guliemi IV, (1835) The Statutes of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 13, Eyre and Spottiswoode London, p. 788.  Return to text

12. terra nullius = Land belonging to no-one.  Return to text

13. Preamble, Act XCV, 4o & 5o Guliemi IV, (1835) The Statutes of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol 13, Eyre and Spottiswoode London, p. 788.  Return to text

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Section 346
Skillogolee Creek
The house that Thomas Adams built
Skillogolee Creek
The first letter of Thomas Adams from
Skillogolee Creek