So our first full day in Australia is in the books. It was a busy day to be sure - the events of the day included a visit to the The Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, a visit to the Kilburn Peace and Welcome Garden, a scavenger hunt, and a group dinner afterwards.
The Living Kaurna Cultural Centre visit was an eye opening experience. We had a very interesting and informative (albeit damp!) tour of the Warriparringa Wetlands area - a cultural heritage site here in South Australia that is very special tot he Kuarna peoples. Our tour guide, Jamie, is a local Aboriginal whose family lineage comes from the Adelaide plains area.
Jamie talked to us a little about the cultural heritage classification of the wetlands area and how important it is to preserve these lands as natural and to avoid continued urban sprawl. Here Jamie explains the importance of the Gum tree to the Aboriginal peoples - it provides a number of various resources for took and weapon making, carving, hunting, etc.
We also had the opportunity to visit a 500+ ear old (estimated) Gum tree int he middle of the preserve. Trees like this will form hollows inside them were various bird, ducks, and other animals live and nest. Jamie explained that when hunting (for example for Possum), the Aboriginals would build a small fire in the hollow at the base of the tree to smoke out their prey, rather than risking the danger of climbing the tree. Very interesting!
This was a spectacular opportunity for the students. This is my 7th trip to Australia and I have tried to find a visit like this... Before we left, Jamie talked to us about a number of aspects of Kaurna Aboriginal culture. He talked about how important songs were in passing knowledge down from generation to generation about things like how to get to certain places, behavioral protocols when travelling through another area, or even family stories. He also explained that for Aboriginals, time is not linear, but rather circular and as such, they will never say "Good bye", but rather "Until next time".
It was also very interested for him to explain how didgeridoos are made, the importance of them to the Aboriginal songs, how to play one, and that in Aboriginal culture that they are generally only played by males. The reason for this was that the pressure on one's chest, abdomen and lungs when playing one is thought to be damaging to a female's reproductive system. He also said that in many other cultures it is more common for women than men to play!
All in all, even with the rain dampening the mood, everyone seemed to really enjoy meeting Jamie and learning a bit about the Aboriginal culture in the Adelaide area! If you would like to learn more about the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, you can visit their website here.
After a bus ride back into the city, a lunch break, and another ride back out fo the city in a different direction, we visited the Kilburn Peace and Welcome Garden. This is a project partly funded by the Red Cross that grows a small community garden designed to both integrate and feed local people who are asylum seekers in Australia. While this is a small scale project, the benefits they provide to both refugees and other local people who are in need of food are astounding.
Interesting to see the ideas of corporate social responsibility at play even in a rural area of South Australia for a small project to help feed local peoples in need! This visit and our earlier visit were both tremendous opportunities for the students to get a feel for rural Australians outside of the very chic wealth and opulence we will experience in Melbourne and Sydney!!
And an extremely hearty thank you to our speaker, Luis. He and 4 others currently do all of the work at the garden including management and labor! If you would like to learn more about this project, you can visit their website here.