What does Nuriootpa mean?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 09/26/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

Nuriootpa is known as the commercial centre of the Barossa Valley, but what does it mean?

Nuriootpa is the commercial centre of the Barossa Valley. The town services some 42 surrounding wineries and has a population of just under 6000. One of the most identifiable traits of the town is the vines growing along the main street. Both new and old buildings are covered in these climbing creepers.

The first records of the name Nuriootpa are from 1852, and there is some debate as to the meaning of the name. While it is agreed that the word is a local Aboriginal word, there are different accounts of the story.

Neck Country

There is some documentation suggesting that Nuriootpa is a derivative of Nguraitpa. Meaning ‘neck country’, the name is an indication of local ancestral spirits. A giant being named Wano lies here, and this area is his neck. Kaurna country is vast, reaching from above the Barossa and as low as Cape Jervis. There has been some suggestion that the name of the town Willunga refers to the chest of Wano, supporting this theory.

Meeting Place

Low in the valley and relatively open, the area Nuriootpa covers was a key meeting place for the Kaurna people and visiting tribes. This led to a belief that the towns name meant ‘meeting place’.

In the mid-2000s a revival of Kaurna language started in collaboration with the community. Unfortunately, Nuriootpa was not included in the place name project and there is no official documentation of its meaning. However, the most recent updates to the official Barossa website refer to Nuriootpa as Neck Country.

Nuriootpa today

Today, Nuriootpa is still the meeting place of the Barossa Valley. Its central location remains to be useful, and it is now one of the most populated towns in the region.

Nuriootpa is also home to Australia’s largest retail co-operative. The Barossa Shopping Centre has 24 tenancies and community ownership is shared by 18,100 members. Additionally, they operate six of the businesses within the centre, directly employing over 300 Barossa locals. Owned and run by the community the co-op is the meeting point of the Valley. Not only does it provide a local informal meeting place to eat, shop and socialise it directly contributes back into the community through provision of time, facilities and equipment to local schools and groups.

When visiting Nuriootpa be sure to check out the eclectic second-hand stores down the main strip. With such unique and well-preserved goods visitors often mistake the stores for museums. Be sure to sit down at one of the cafes for a delicious coffee, or pop into one of the boutique art galleries to see local works. If you’re staying for the night be sure to pop into the Vine Inn, a community owned hotel just 300m away from the nearest winery! You’re sure to have a fantastic time drinking wine and getting to know some of the locals.

Nuriootpa is the bustling heart of the Barossa Valley and is a must see on any Barossa trip.

Related article: How big is the Barossa Valley?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.