Places: Barngarla Country (South Australia)

Schurmann Creek

As of 10 January 2013, the Geographic Names Unit of the Government of South Australia has named a creek on Eyre Peninsula in commemoration of missionary Clamor W Schurmann, "SCHURMANN CREEK". Between 1846 and 1852, the German Lutheran missionary Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann and his family resided here.  While the missionary studied the local Aboriginal language, now called Barngarla and taught pupils at his small school in their own language, his wife Minna attended to a fruit and vegetable garden of which the palm tree shown here most likely has survived.

The act has been made public on the GNU website.1 ] The Schurmann Creek is located approximately 10 km north of Port Lincoln south of North Shields (GDA 94 Coordinates: -34.639746, Latitude, 135.853616 Longitude; Google Maps with a marker). Driving towards PL on the highway B100, the normally dry creek can be seen from the bridge crossing the creek about 50m south of the turnoff to 885 Lincoln Highway, North Shields. More images can be found here.

Schurmann Creek, North Shield, Eyre Peninsula
Schurmann Creek, North Shield, Eyre Peninsula (© Theodore Modra, 2007)

Local  Lutheran church members and historians have identified this creek as the Schurmann place of residence and the Barngarla language school during his second stint on Eyre Peninsula, as government paid interpreter and teacher between 1848 and 1853. The remains of the house are approximately 1 km off the road, on a paddock and near a group of brush, fruit trees, and a palm tree. Schurmann’s place still features the foundations of the old house, the wall of the in-house well and a small orchard believed to have been planted by Mrs Schurmann.

In their meeting on 16 December 2011, the District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula suggested to “approach the local aboriginal community requesting a plaque be erected acknowledging the contribution made to the area by Pastor Schurmann.2 ]

It was Schurmann’s last position as a missionary in South Australia, and difficult on top. His role was based on his prior publication of a second grammar and dictionary after the Kaurna language with Gottlob Teichelmann in 1840, this time on the Barngarla (Parnkalla) language in 1846.

Residence missionary Clamor W Schürmann (1847-1852)
Residence missionary Clamor W Schürmann (1847-1852) (© Gerhard Rüdiger 2010)

Changes in the colonial educational policy fostered the institutionalising of young Aborigines in several centres, the first of them in SA being the Native Training Institution at Poonindie, further north now in the township of North Shields, established and run by the Anglican Archdeacon Mathew Hale. The colonial administration, subsequently, withdrew any funding for Schurmann’s teaching at his little school. True to his initial position in 1836 in Germany, Schurman declined the offer by Hale to work at for the Anglican Church at this institution.

In 1853 Schurmann accepted a call as the Lutheran Pastor at Hochkirch (Tarrington), Victoria, ending his "Second Life" as a missionary in South Australia.

Based on Schurmann’s language work in South Australia (Kaurna on the Adelaide Plains, Ramindjeri at Encounter Bay and Barngarla here), language reclamation programs have been established since the 1990s between the various Aborigines communities and the Discipline of Linguistics at the University of Adelaide.3 ]

Further online reading:

  1. but is difficult to find, as there is no persistent url. Go to the SA Government Property Location Browser.  Search for "Schurmann Creek", then left-click into the centre of the blue marker.  In the new pop-up window select "Place Names (Gazetteer)".  The "Link" at the bottom of the text field opens a pdf file with the Gazetteer details, which you can also download from this website here (pdf, 105kb). [ ▲ ]
  2. DISTRICT COUNCIL OF LOWER EYRE PENINSULA, MINUTES  OF THE COUNCIL MEETING ON  FRIDAY 16 DECEMBER 2011, C267 (6), page 39;  for the process see also Council meeting agenda, page 6. PDF online. [ ▲ ]
  3. For Barngarla, see:  The Australian – Higher Education:  Stop, revive and survive, by Ghil'ad Zuckermann, 6 June 2012 [ ▲ ]

For reference:

Administrator. Places: Barngarla Country (South Australia) :: Schurmann Creek , in: Pirltawardli Research Website. Adelaide 2019.
(Created: 12.11.2014. Last updated: 05.05.2016.)
Direct URL: <www.grweb.org/cpo-pirltawardli/en/detail.php?rubric=places_au_sa-barngarla&nr=329>. Viewed 24.08.2019.