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Kaurna Camping Ground

Helen Mayo Park (Park 27)

This park is called Pirltawardli ('Possum Place') because this area had many possums living in the Karrawirra ('River Redgum Forest') trees which were lush along the River.

photo-icon Lithograph of the Adelaide Gaol, State Library of South Australia, B 10005, circa 1933
photo-icon Torrens Weir in flood, City of Adelaide Archives, HP1101, circa 1917
photo-icon This Park is named after Helen Mary Mayo (1 October 1878 – 13 November 1967). Mayo was an Australian medical doctor and medical educator, born and raised in Adelaide.

The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains. This park is called Pirltawardli ('Possum Place') in the Kaurna language. The language was last spoken on a daily basis in the 1860s, and has been revived in recent times based on dictionaries prepared by German missionaries around the time of settlement. The German missionaries ran the Kaurna school in this area where the golf course now stands. Pirltawardli is an important place in the history of this State because of its links with the Kaurna people.

This Park was called Pirltawardli because this area had many possums living in the Karrawirra ('River Redgum Forest') trees which were lush along the River. The River Torrens is also known as Karrawirra Pari ('Redgum Forest River').

The River was an important part of Kaurna way of life, and the site of camps, palti (corroborees), ceremonies and burials. The River is also part of the Red Kangaroo Dreaming story.

The Torrens Weir was built in 1881 to create the Torrens Lake, providing a regular water supply. The Weir was one of the first uses of concrete in a civil engineering project in Australia and is a State Heritage Place.

Over the other side of the Weir to the north is the old Adelaide Gaol, which was one of the longest continuously operating prisons in Australia. Its castle-like tower can be seen in the distance. Opening in 1841, it was designed by George Strickland Kingston and closed in 1988. The Gaol is a State Heritage Place.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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