5 national parks in South Australia that are rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage

5 national parks in South Australia that are rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage



SA’s parks are an amaz­ing place to con­nect with Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture. Vis­it these to learn more for NAIDOC week.


South Australia’s First Peo­ples have ancient, strong and con­tin­u­ing con­nec­tions and rela­tion­ships with land and water, includ­ing many of the state’s nation­al parks.

Here are 5 nation­al parks to vis­it to learn more about local Abo­rig­i­nal groups and their cul­ture and heritage:

1. Ngaut Ngaut Con­ser­va­tion Park

Just out­side the town­ship of Nil­dot­tie, Ngaut Ngaut is one of the jew­els of the Riv­er Mur­ray.

Its tow­er­ing ochre cliffs offer sweep­ing views over the riv­er, and it’s home to a gallery of beau­ti­ful rock art engraved into the lime­stone walls of the rock shelter.

The park is on the tra­di­tion­al lands of the Ngan­gu­raku and Ngai­wang peo­ples, and the best way to expe­ri­ence it is with an expert guide from the Man­num Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­ni­ty Association.

5 national parks in South Australia that are rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage

2. Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park

Ikara-Flinders Ranges is undoubt­ed­ly an SA tourist icon, draw­ing peo­ple from all over the world with an inter­est in cul­ture, wildlife, bush­walk­ing, four-wheel dri­ving, geol­o­gy and fossils.

Adnya­math­anha-led tours are avail­able to vis­i­tors from the Wilpe­na Pound Resort and pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn about the land­scape and bio-diver­si­ty from the per­spec­tive of the Adnya­math­anha people. 

St Mary Peak is cen­tral to the area’s cre­ation sto­ry, and for this rea­son the Adnya­math­anha peo­ple pre­fer that hik­ers do not climb all the way to the sum­mit. Near­by Tander­ra Sad­dle is the ide­al place to stop, as its views are just as spectacular.

5 national parks in South Australia that are rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage

3. Kanku-Break­aways Con­ser­va­tion Park

The Kanku-Break­aways form part of the tra­di­tion­al coun­try of the Antakir­in­ja Matun­t­jara Yankun­yt­jat­jara people.

This series of flat-topped mesas ris­es from a stony, colour­ful plain about 25 km from Coober Pedy.

The park is owned by the Antakir­in­ja Matun­t­jara Yankun­yt­jat­jara Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion and has a unique co-man­age­ment agree­ment between the cor­po­ra­tion, the Dis­trict Coun­cil of Coober Pedy and the state government.

5 national parks in South Australia that are rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage

4. Malkum­ba-Coongie Lakes Con­ser­va­tion Park

Locat­ed close to the Queens­land bor­der in the extreme far north-east of the state, about 100km north of Innam­inc­ka, Malkum­ba-Coongie Lakes is a true oasis in the desert.

The lakes and the sur­round­ing wet­lands are a sig­nif­i­cant part of the tra­di­tion­al lands and waters of the Yan­druwand­ha and Yawar­rawar­rka peo­ple, and are man­aged under a co-man­age­ment agreement.

The lakes and wet­lands were espe­cial­ly impor­tant as a source of food after flood­ing, when they become a sea­son­al haven for birds and oth­er wildlife.

The area is now list­ed as a Ram­sar Wet­land of Inter­na­tion­al Sig­nif­i­cance.

5 national parks in South Australia that are rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage

5. Coorong Nation­al Park

Anoth­er SA icon, the Coorong is of great sig­nif­i­cance to the Ngar­rind­jeri nation, the tra­di­tion­al own­ers of the area’s lands and waters.

Ancient mounds of dis­card­ed shells mark the Ngar­rind­jeri people’s pres­ence in the region since time immemorial.

Ngar­rind­jeri con­tin­ue to take a lead­ing role in the man­age­ment of the region, includ­ing Coorong Nation­al Park and the man­age­ment of its con­nect­ed waters.

The Ngar­rind­jeri name for the area is Kurangk, which means long nar­row neck’. Like Malkum­ba-Coongie Lakes, the area is a Ram­sar Wet­land, and is an impor­tant habi­tat for many species of water­birds, includ­ing pelicans.

5 national parks in South Australia that are rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage

Co-nam­ing, coun­try-based plan­ning and co-man­age­ment of parks

The strong con­nec­tion that Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ples have with the land is reflect­ed in the co-nam­ing of many of South Australia’s nation­al parks with Abo­rig­i­nal and Euro­pean names, and the shift towards coun­try-based plan­ning and co-man­age­ment of these spe­cial places.

In SA, 12 parks are cur­rent­ly co-man­aged, mean­ing the tra­di­tion­al own­ers work with the state gov­ern­ment and oth­er rel­e­vant groups and peo­ple to make man­age­ment deci­sions for the park.

Abo­rig­i­nal-led Coun­try-based plan­ning is also being utilised as the foun­da­tion for co-man­age­ment plan­ning in parts of the state.

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture and SA’s nation­al parks? Find out whichnation­al parks have names derived from Abo­rig­i­nal lan­guages.

Main image: Ikara-Flinders Ranges Nation­al Park

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in July 2019.


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living