Wardlipari - Indigenous STEMM Mural

This artwork was created and gifted to SAHMRI by Ngarrindjeri, Yankunytjatjara and Kaurna artist Allan Sumner
Wardlipari - Indigenous STEMM Mural

The mural - Wardlipari - is a graphic art piece that reflects the story of the Karrawirra Pari (River Torrens). It describes the relationship and connection that Miyurna (Kaurna people) had with the river. Stories that have been passed down from generation to generation describing a time when the river gave life to all living things.


The Indigenous STEMM Mural is a reflection of SAHMRI's focus on Aboriginal health research and commitment to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the opportunity to live healthy, long, full lives.

The mural showcases Traditional Owners as the First Scientists on these lands and waters of the Miyurna and recognises the ongoing contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to science. It is a strong visual statement by which SAHMRI acknowledges the importance of the unique connection between First Nations people and STEMM, and also highlights the aspirations of budding future generations of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people to follow their ancestors, trailblazers, and heroes into STEMM.

Aboriginal health priorities have formed the basis of SAHMRI’s program of work since its inception in 2009. Wardliparingga - SAHMRI's Aboriginal Health Equity Theme - has built its research foundations on the ancient knowledge and wisdom of Australia's first scientists. Its research is informed by South Australian Aboriginal communities' health priorities, actively reversing the colonial trend of Indigenous people being the subjects of research to become partners and leaders in research.

The Emu in the Sky

The Emu in the Sky story is shared by many Aboriginal communities across Australia. Stretching across much of the sky, the shape of the emu is formed from the dark patches in the Milky Way. Miyurna would see the Emu's reflection on the Karrawirra Pari surface, giving the artwork its name Wardlipari.

In Australia, First Nations people are recognised as the first astronomers. Miyurna have used their knowledge of the night sky for millennia in navigation, timekeeping, food gathering, creation stories and much more.

Miyurna maintain detailed knowledge systems about our Solar System and continue to contribute to scientific research and innovation across agricultural, scientific, technical, ecological, bio-diversity and medicinal fields.

Emu in the sky

Timeline of Miyurna knowledges

The Timeline of Miyurna knowledges represents Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people as the First Scientists and reflects their ongoing commitment to science today.

Timeline of Miyurna knowledges

The timeline also specifically incorporates and identifies SAHMRI's Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity theme and CSIRO’s Young Indigenous Women’s STEM Academy as present-day commitments to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander science, cultural and scientific knowledge transmission - learning from the past and now together into the future.

The artist - Allan Sumner

Allan is a descendent of the Kaurna people from the Adelaide plains region, the Ngarrindjeri people from the lower Murray and Coorong in South Australia and the Yankunytjatjara people from central Australia.

In addition to being an established and accomplished visual artist and graphic designer musician, Allan, through the love of his heritage, facilitates cultural tours and is a popular provider of workshops in schools and community groups where he teaches Aboriginal arts and culture.

Allan speaks passionately about culture, the Dreaming Stories of his people and spending valuable time with his Elders. Retracing ancient art forms, Allan communicates the stories, passed down from generation to generation, through his contemporary art pieces. Allan creates visually arresting landscape works employing earthy tones intertwined with cooler tones to represent rivers, lakes and the oceans that form patterns to provide a sense of movement.

Allan Sumner

The STEMM Mural would not have been possible without the leadership, support and generosity of many:

SAHMRI would like to acknowledge KYAC and its Board of Directors, led by Uncle Tim Agius, for supporting the Indigenous STEMM mural project.

KYAC provided approval and direction in the use of Kaurna cultural elements, stories, symbols and images.

KYAC is the peak body for the Kaurna people, responsible for acting implementing the native title and development aspirations of the Kaurna people in matters relating to their native title rights and interests.


The Wardlinparingga Aboriginal Health Equity theme inspired the creation of the Indigenous STEMM Mural. Wardliparingga embodies SAHMRI’s commitment to Reconciliation and closing the gap. 

The theme was led by Professor Alex Brown from its inception until 2022. He established and led an extensive and unique research program focused on chronic disease in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities, with a particular focus on outlining and overcoming health disparities.

Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Committee

The Indigenous STEMM Mural project was planned and executed by SAHMRI’s RAP Committee, initially under the leadership of Co-Chairs Professor Alex Brown and Professor Steve Wesselingh, with Kim Morey later replacing Professor Brown as Co-Chair.

Delivery of the project has spanned the tenure of three RAP Coordinators – Alyssa Duff, Tinarra Toohey and Clyde Rigney – who all played different, but equally important, roles in seeing it to fruition.

Indigenous Collective

SAHMRI's Indigenous Collective provided significant support in the conceptualisation and initial stages of the development of the creative brief for the SAHMRI Indigenous STEMM mural project. The mural captures the story of the Collective, individually and as a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in STEMM at SAHMRI.

SAHMRI Leadership

SAHMRI’s leadership – from the Board and Executive and throughout the organisation – has consistently championed the institute’s commitment to Reconciliation by supporting initiatives like the Indigenous STEMM Mural.

Inspiring South Australia

Through it’s Making Science Visible program, Inspiring SA provided SAHMRI with a grant to make design and installation of the Indigenous STEMM Mural possible. Inspiring SA has been an active partner throughout the development to this mural that promotes the traditional and current STEMM in the everyday lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our hope is that people will be inspired by this magnificent visual representation of STEMM for many years to come.


The CSIRO at SAHMRI has provided support for the Indigenous STEMM mural project through financial sponsorship and providing its windows for the Indigenous STEMM Mural to be exhibited. The organisation has a strong commitment to Indigenous science, as evidenced by its Young Indigenous Women's STEM Academy. 

Bowden Print Group

Bowden Print Group provided the expertise and material support to produce the 24 separate decals that comprise the Indigenous STEMM Mural and oversaw the installation.

SAHMRI also warmly thanks the many Aboriginal community members who have supported our program of work over many years.