Smithfield, South Australia

The South Australian Museum cares for hundreds of Kaurna ancestral remains disturbed by the development of Adelaide and its surrounding suburbs. Until this project, repatriation of the Kaurna ancestors relied upon ad-hoc government allocations of land and resources.

In 2019, the Kaurna community seized an opportunity to turn an empty field within the Adelaide Cemeteries’ Smithfield Memorial Park into a memorial park dedicated to reburial of Kaurna ancestral remains. Over the next two years, the project was supported by the Premier of South Australia’s pilot repatriation grant. Working closely with the South Australian Museum and Adelaide Cemeteries, the Kaurna community created Wangayarta, a new type of burial place on the Adelaide Plains that is uniquely Kaurna. Using cultural authority and community participation, the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation led development of Wangayarta. A project Reference Group comprised of Kaurna leaders guided the project through two distinct phases, co-design and implementation.

Through the co-design process, a new type of place was created where ancestors can be reburied, truth and history can be shared and communities can heal. Adelaide Cemeteries’ dedication of Wangayarta to the Kaurna People ensures the Kaurna community maintains an active role in the future of the site and legally protects the reburied ancestors in perpetuity, ensuring they will never be disturbed again.

On 7 December 2021 the Kaurna community came together to rebury 134 of their ancestors disturbed from burial sites in Adelaide’s northern suburbs into Wangayarta’s northern mound.

Wangayarta memorialises the challenge, fortitude, and generosity of Kaurna People in sharing this repatriation with everyone, so that together we learn our history and share the truth. Development of secondary school history curriculum resources is now underway. These resources will tell Kaurna’s repatriation story and embed Wangyarta’s truth telling into the minds of young South Australians. School excursions to Wangayarta will be supported by the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation.

The three other Wangayarta mounds are for the eventual reburial of the remains identified as coming from the south, east and west. Planning for the western mound reburial is underway.

Wangayarta is an exemplar of successful community partnership and elevation of cultural authority in the design process. As a pilot project, Wangayarta has demonstrated a model for repatriation that can be used by other Aboriginal communities in the future with a similar scale of repatriation and reburial challenge ahead of them.


Client South Australian Museum
Timeframe 2019-2021
Oxigen role Master Plan
Key team members Oxigen
Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation (KYAC) and the Kaurna Community
Adelaide Cemeteries Authority
Consolidated Landscape Services (CLS) - Contractor