10 South Australian national parks with names derived from Aboriginal languages

10 South Australian national parks with names derived from Aboriginal languages



Many of SA’s park names have Abo­rig­i­nal lan­guage ori­gins. Here are 10 of them and their First Nation beginnings.


Across Aus­tralia, many places are known by their Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander names.

In fact it’s esti­mat­ed that 60 to 70 per cent of all place names in Aus­tralia are from Abo­rig­i­nal lan­guages or Angli­cised-Abo­rig­i­nal names. 

There are about 360nation­al parks across South Aus­tralia and each of their names have a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. But, did you know that more than 100 are derived from Abo­rig­i­nal languages?

The names of these parks start­ed with an Abo­rig­i­nal word, but over time, due to South Aus­tralia becom­ing a pre­dom­i­nate­ly Eng­lish-speak­ing soci­ety, they were anglicised.

Here are a selec­tion of 10 South Aus­tralian nation­al parks names and their Abo­rig­i­nal lan­guage origins:

1. Aldin­ga Scrub Con­ser­va­tion Park

Aldin­ga Scrub Con­ser­va­tion Park Con­ser­va­tion Park, 46 kilo­me­tres south of Ade­laide, is on the land of the Kau­r­na (pro­nounced Gar-na’) people.

The Kau­r­na name for this area is Ngalt­ing­ga’, how­ev­er it was record­ed in 1836 as Ald­inghi’, and soon after­ward as Aldin­ga’.

It’s pos­si­ble that Ald­inghi was record­ed from an Ngar­rind­jeri-speak­ing per­son (pro­nounced Ngah-rin-djeri – the ng’ as in sing’ and the dou­ble r’ is rolled) and that this was a Ngar­rind­jeri adap­ta­tion of the Kau­r­na name.

The park is locat­ed in the sub­urb of Aldin­ga Beach, and has an impres­sive back­drop of sand dunes and coastal vegetation.

Look out for the short-beaked echid­nas, lizards, bats and the diverse range of birds in the park.

2. Coorong Nation­al Park

Coorong Nation­al Park is the gate­way to the Lime­stone Coast in the state’s south east, and is on the land of the Ngar­rind­jeri people.

The word Coorong’ is gen­er­al­ly accept­ed to be an angli­cised ver­sion of the Ngar­rind­jeri word for the area – Kurangk’ – which means long, nar­row neck.

The park extends 150 kilo­me­tres from the Gool­wa Bar­rage fol­low­ing the coast and lagoon south-east towards the town­ship of Kingston.

Coorong Nation­al Park’s lagoons are pro­tect­ed from the South­ern Ocean by the sweep­ing sand dunes of the Young Hus­band Peninsula.

There’s lots to do in the park, such as camp­ing on the edge of the wild ocean, kayak­ing in the lagoons, explor­ing the sand dunes, 4WD-ing, bird­watch­ing and fish­ing – or sim­ply relaxing.

3. Cud­lee Creek Con­ser­va­tion Park 

Cud­lee Creek Con­ser­va­tion Park in the Ade­laide Hills is on shared coun­try of the Kau­r­na and Pera­mangk (Pera-munk) peoples.

The name Cud­lee Creek’ is believed to be derived from the Kau­r­na word Cood­la’, which means wild dog or dingo’.

The park is locat­ed near Gumer­acha, which is derived from the word Umer­acha’ mean­ing fine water­hole’. It’s a small pro­tect­ed area with an open for­est and lots of birds.

4. Glen­thorne Nation­al Park-Itya­mai­it­pin­na Yarta

Adelaide’s newest nation­al park is locat­ed 16 km south of Ade­laide on Majors Road in O’Halloran Hill.

The first part of the park’s Kau­r­na name, Itya­mai­it­pin­na’, rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant Kau­r­na elder who played a vital role in the Euro­pean coloni­sa­tion his­to­ry of Kau­r­na land in this area.

The sec­ond part of the name, Yarta’, is the Kau­r­na name for Country.

Watch this lan­guage les­son by Kau­r­na Lan­guage Teacher and Cul­tur­al Edu­ca­tor Jack Buck­skin to learn more about the mean­ing of the name and how to pro­nounce it with confidence.

Kau­r­na his­to­ry and lan­guage les­son: Glen­thorne Nation­al Park- Itya­mai­ip­in­na Yarta 

5. Mori­al­ta Con­ser­va­tion Park

Mori­al­ta Con­ser­va­tion Park is part of the tra­di­tion­al lands of the Kau­r­na peo­ple in the state’s inner east­ern suburbs.

Mori­al­ta’ is the Kau­r­na name for the area, which means ever-flow­ing’.

There’s lots to see and do at Mori­al­ta, like walk­ing trails, rock climb­ing and moun­tain bik­ing. It’s also home to Adelaide’s biggest nature play­ground.

6. Nara­coorte Caves Nation­al Park

Nara­coorte Caves Nation­al Park is locat­ed between the ances­tral lands of the Potaruwu­tij peo­ple (pro­nounced pot-a-which’) to the north, Jard­wad­jali peo­ple (pro­nounced jard-wa-jali’) to the east, Boandik peo­ple (pro­nounced boo-an-dik’) to the south and Mein­tangk peo­ple (pro­nounced me-in-tongue’) to the west.

It is thought that the name Nara­coorte’ is a cor­rup­tion of the word Gnan­ga-kurt’ to Nan­na-coor­ta’, Nar­coot’, Nan­coo­ta’, Nar­ri­court’, Nar­coo­ta’, Nar­ra­coorte’ and Nara­coorte’, and means large water­hole or place of run­ning water’.

The Nara­coorte Caves are part of the 800,000 year old Nara­coorte East Range. They are World Her­itage list­ed, and one of the world’s most impor­tant fos­sil sites.

7. Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park

Onka­paringa Riv­er is on the land of the Kau­r­na peo­ple in Adelaide’s inner south­ern suburbs.

The word Onka­paringa’ comes from the Kau­r­na word Ngangkipar­ing­ka’, which means women only places along the riv­er’. Ngang­ki’ means women’, Pari’ means riv­er’, and ngka’ means loca­tion’.

Onka­paringa Riv­er Nation­al Park has diverse hik­ing trails with mag­nif­i­cent views. Wher­ev­er you go in the park, you’ll be among native wildlife such as birds, koalas, kan­ga­roos and pos­sums – you may even spot an echidna.

8. Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park

Para Wirra Con­ser­va­tion Park is on the shared lands of three nations – the Pera­mangk (pro­nounced Pera-munk’), Ngad­juri (pro­nounced Ngad-ju-ri’, with ng’ as in sing’) and Kau­r­na peo­ple – locat­ed in the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges.

The name Para Wirra’ is derived from the Kau­r­na word Pari’ which means riv­er, creek or gul­ly’ and the word Wirra’ means for­est’. So Para Wirra’ is the for­est where a water­way flows’.

This park is per­fect for immers­ing your­self in nature – for walk­ing, pic­nick­ing, and watch­ing native animals.

There are more than 100 species of birds liv­ing in the park, includ­ing emus, which you’ll like­ly see around the pic­nic grounds.

9. Whyal­la Con­ser­va­tion Park

Whyal­la is the land of the Barn­gar­la peo­ple on the east­ern coast of the Eyre Peninsula.

Whyal­la was pos­si­bly derived from the Barn­gar­la word Kay­al­la’, which means north­ern Country’. 

The loca­tion was named Hum­mock Hill in 1802 by Matthew Flinders but the town’s name was offi­cial­ly changed in 1916 to Whyalla.

Wild Dog Hill is a must see at Whyal­la Con­ser­va­tion Park. Its rugged fea­tures and impos­ing pro­file make it a pop­u­lar pic­nic loca­tion for vis­i­tors. Red and grey kan­ga­roos as well as dun­narts can be spot­ted through­out the park.

10. Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park

Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park is named in acknowl­edge­ment of the Narung­ga tra­di­tion­al own­ers and in recog­ni­tion of its new co-man­age­ment arrangements.

The name Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park recog­nis­es the South­ern Narung­ga Region and peo­ple on the Yorke Peninsula. 

Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da-Innes Nation­al Park is a favourite loca­tion for camp­ing, fish­ing and surfing.

Bush­walk­ing is a great way to dis­cov­er the park, with trails rang­ing from 30-minute strolls to four-hour treks.

You’ll spot an abun­dance of birds and ani­mals while you catch some of the best coastal views in SA.

All of the park is acces­si­ble by 2WD, so it’s per­fect for day vis­its and a par­adise for beach lovers.

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about SA’s nation­al parks? You might like our sto­ry about parks with geo­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

Main Image: Mori­al­ta Con­ser­va­tion Park

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in May 2019.


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living