NarrungSouth Australia
Raukkan Church.jpg
Raukkan Church, 2015
Raukkan is located in South Australia
Coordinates35°30′22″S 139°08′06″E / 35.506°S 139.135°E / -35.506; 139.135Coordinates: 35°30′22″S 139°08′06″E / 35.506°S 139.135°E / -35.506; 139.135
Population106 (2016 census)[1]
LGA(s)The Coorong District Council
State electorate(s)MacKillop[2]
Federal division(s)Barker

Raukkan is an Australian Aboriginal community situated on the south-eastern shore of Lake Alexandrina in the locality of Narrung, 80 kilometres (50 mi) southeast of the centre of South Australia's capital, Adelaide. Raukkan is "regarded as the home and heartland of Ngarrindjeri country."[3]

It was originally established as Point McLeay mission in 1859 and became an Aboriginal reserve in 1916. It was finally handed back to the Ngarrindjeri people in 1974, and renamed Raukkan in 1982.


Raukkan, which means "meeting place" in the Ngarrindjeri language,[3][4] was for thousands of years an important meeting place for Ngarrindjeri "lakalinyeri" (clans) and the location of the Grand Tendi, the parliament of the Ngarrindjeri people.[5] The Grand Tendi was composed of men elected from each of the eighteen lakalinyeri who then elected from its members the Rupulle or leader.[3]

English explorer Charles Sturt first encountered the Ngarrindjeri at Raukkan, who fed the starving Sturt and his party.[5]

In 1859[6] the Aborigines' Friends' Association was granted 107 hectares (260 acres) in the area and established a mission at Raukkan,[7] which had been named "Point McLeay" by T. B. Strangways in 1837.[8] George Taplin had selected the site, and with others such as the Rev. F. W. Cox helped build the school, church and mission station to care for the local Aboriginal people, and spent the next twenty years in that service.[9] It was intended by the Aborigines' Friends' Association to help the Ngarrindjeri people, but could never be self-sufficient farming due to the poor quality of the soil in the area. Land clearing by farmers nearby also limited the ability for hunting, and other crafts and industries also met with difficulties due to changing environment and competition from nearby towns.[7]

In 1896, Aboriginal men and women at Raukkan were granted the vote and voted in state and federal elections (including for the first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901) and the constitutional referendums on Australian federation.[10] More than 100 Aboriginal people from Raukkan were listed on the South Australian electoral roll and seventy per cent of these voted at the 1896 South Australian election.[11]

During World War I, men from Point McLeay and Point Pearce were among the first Aboriginal men in the state to enlist.[12]

In 1916, responsibility for Raukkan moved to South Australia's Chief Protector of Aborigines and it became an Aboriginal reserve.[7] This followed the recommendations of the South Australian Royal Commission on the Aborigines in 1913.[13][14][15] Included in the recommendations was that the government become the guardian of all Aboriginal children upon reaching their 10th birthday, and place them "where they deem best".[13] Seven years after the Final Report of the Commission, the Aborigines (Training of Children) Act 1923, in order to allow Indigenous children to be "trained" in a special institution so that they could go out and work.[15]

Since 1974 the community has been administered by the Ngarrindjeri people themselves;[16] it was renamed Raukkan in 1982.[4]

Raukkan Aboriginal School is in the town.[17] In the 2016 Australian census the population was 106 persons, all of whom identified themselves as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.[1]

Raukkan Aboriginal School

The school was established in the years 1859 and 1860 by the Ngarrindjeri people and the missionary, George Taplin. It celebrated its 150th year of operation in 2010.[18] In 2018, the school which is operated by the Government of South Australia had a total enrolment of 15 students who are all Ngarrindjeri and a teaching staff of three.[19]

Notable residents

The Mission was mentioned in the Bringing Them Home Report (1997) as an institution housing Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families,[6] creating part of the Stolen Generations.

Raukkan was home to James Unaipon (c. 1835 – 1907) and his son David (1872 – 1967). James Unaipon was the first Australian Aboriginal deacon.[20] and co-authored writings on the Ngarrindjeri language[21] and David was a writer and inventor, who along with the Raukkan Church, is featured on the Australian fifty-dollar note.[4]

Ivaritji (c. 1849 – 1929) was a Kaurna elder and the last known speaker of the Kaurna language.

"Granny" Euniapon was subject of a pastel sketch by Frederick C. Britton purchased by the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1916.[22] (Elsewhere spelled "Unaipon".)

Harry Hewitt (c. 1861 – 1907) was a notable South Australian athlete who spent much of his life based at the Point McLeay mission. He would go on to play football for Medindie and Port Adelaide in a game against Fitzroy.

Roland Carter (1892 – 1960) was a labourer born in Raukkan and was the first Ngarrindjeri man from the Point McLeay Mission Station to enlist in the First Australian Imperial Force. He fought in World War one, was taken prisoner by the Germans and returned to live in Raukkan after being released at the end of the war.[23]

Doreen Kartinyeri (1935 – 2007) was a Ngarrindjeri elder and historian.

See also

Other 19th century Aboriginal missions in SA


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Raukkan (Indigenous Location)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 6 January 2018. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "District Backgrounder MacKillop". Electoral Commission of South Australia. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Raukkan, p. 3.
  4. ^ a b c Whitehorn, p. 15.
  5. ^ a b Mussared, D., "River people question price of 'progress', The Canberra Times, 18 January 1993, p. 3.
  6. ^ a b "Point McLeay Mission Station". Find & Connect. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Horton, p. 930
  8. ^ "To His Excellency". South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register (Adelaide, SA : 1836 - 1839). Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia. 20 January 1838. p. 3. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  9. ^ C. E. Bartlett A Brief History of the Point McLeay Reserve and District Aborigines' Friends' Association 1959
  10. ^ "History of the Indigenous vote". Indigenous Australians. Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  11. ^ Lawrence, Kay. Weaving the Murray. Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen.
  12. ^ "Yorke Peninsula (Point Pearce) (1867-1915)". German Missionaries in Australia. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Royal Commission on the Aborigines (1913 - 1916)". Find & Connect. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Royal Commission on the Aborigines" (PDF). South Australia. Government Printer. 1913. Retrieved 18 February 2020. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ a b "Chapter 8 South Australia". Bringing Them Home. 1995. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Aboriginal Australians and the river : Aboriginal missions on the River Murray". State Library of South Australia. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Raukkan Aboriginal School". Department for Education and Child Development, Government of South Australia. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  18. ^ Welcome to Raukkan Aboriginal School, Government of South Australia, retrieved 10 August 2019
  19. ^ "Raukkan Aboriginal School, Raukkan, SA", My School, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), retrieved 10 August 2019
  20. ^ David and James Unaipon - Ngarrindjeri Educators, The Unaipon School, UniSA
  21. ^ Gale, p. 71.
  22. ^ "New Pictures Art Exhibition". The Daily Herald (Adelaide). South Australia. 14 November 1916. p. 5. Retrieved 29 January 2020 – via Trove.
  23. ^ "Private Roland Winzel Carter". The Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 1 July 2019.


Further reading