Tag Archives: Aboriginal heritage

North Adelaide……the lion circuit

8 May

Dear Reader:

It is a mild sunny morning and I am enjoying one of my favourite bike rides. Starting at The Lion Hotel I ride away from the city along Melbourne Street to the Park Terrace intersection. The street is an eclectic mixture of cafes and niche retailers selling anything from clothes to antiques and Persian rugs.


Classic old building converted into shops and galleries



Crossing Park terrace I wind my way through narrow streets and past some lovely old homes to intersect the path that runs alongside the Torrens River before it hits the city proper. The river has cut a narrow gorge through the ochre coloured rocks and tall eucalypts dominate the trail. A pair of rainbow lorikeets is fussing around a nesting hole and one bird takes flight as I dismount to take a closer look.


Rainbow lorikeets nesting



A wooden boardwalk descends towards the river and the weir that controls the water flow. Common pigeons can often be seen foraging along the steep hillside early in the mornings. I think that the clay might supplement their diet and aid digestion.


Boardwalk trail along the river



Common pigeon feeding on cliff-side



Where the walkway levels out a small bridge splits the trail with one path leading back into the city and the other north east to the foothills. I head for the city. The track is flatter here and I pass numerous joggers and other cyclists all enjoying the fine weather.


Foot and cycle crossing near St Peters



Large dragonfly resting in a bottle brush near the river bank


Just past the little foot bridge the path sweeps under the much larger Hackney Road Bridge that carries the majority of traffic into the eastern side of the city. Here, the river widens, slows and becomes the Torrens Lake. As if to herald the change, a graceful snowy egret stands sentinel-like amongst the reeds watching for prey. Further along the waterway, a great cormorant perches close by with similar intent. These larger predatory water birds seem to indicate a greater abundance of prey in the lake.


Signage explains Aboriginal connections and other historical facts



Great Cormorant perching on the lake behind the zoo


egret edit

Egret hunting in reeds



Although the path follows the lake right along the northern edge of the city, I only ride a couple of hundred metres further to the Frome Road Bridge. Pausing briefly to take in the view of the lake, city and zoo from the top of the bridge, I turn right and head past the playing fields riding parallel to Mackinnon Parade through an avenue of massive, stately eucalypts. Cyclists, joggers and football players of all codes share this green space with cockatoos and other parrots that squawk in the trees and feed in the grass.


Cockatoo foraging on the oval near McKinnon Parade



Left near the end of the tree line and I’m back where I started and ready for coffee or breakfast at The Lion.


Back at The Lion



A brilliant way to spend the morning!!

Try it some time!!!



Marion’s Warraparinga wetlands

24 Jan

Dear Reader:

There is a Kookaburra high in the red river gum near the entrance to the Warraparinga wetlands. It chortles out its laughing call alerting just about every wild creature in the area. However, the main purpose of its famous laugh is proclaiming to other kookaburras whose turf it is and how eligible one is for mating. As I sit and listen I cannot help but wonder what the original people who inhabited this land thought about these iconic Australian birds and the other animals that lived here.

A kookaburra sits in the old gum tree

A kookaburra sits in the old gum tree (click to enlarge all images in this post)


For tens of thousands of years before European settlement the Kaurna people roamed the Adelaide plains and south coast. They used both forest and grasslands to hunt for kangaroos, possums and birds. The creeks and wetlands provided turtles, yabbies and fish. Reeds and other plants were a source of food, medicinal remedies and the raw materials for weaving and building.

A timeline describing aspects of Kaurna culture

A timeline describing aspects of Kaurna culture


 Although Aboriginal peoples used symbols, they never developed writing. Their laws, ideas, family histories and seasonal maps were passed from one generation to the next by a series of stories some of which are referred to as Dreaming Stories and often relate to spirit ancestors. One such story is that of Kulutuwi a young boy who is killed by his stepbrothers and carried to his resting place by his uncle Tjilbruke. It describes how the tears that Tjilbruke shed formed the little creeks along the Fleurieu Peninsula. Warraparinga, which comes from the Kaurna warri parri and means windy place by the river is on Sturt Creek near the start of the Tjilbruke trail in the suburb of Marion. It is a wetland complex and home to the Living Kuarna Cultural Centre which has interpretive displays, an art gallery, performing space and cafe.

The creek flowing freely after summer rain

The creek flowing freely after summer rain


An acrobatic white plumed honeyeater feeding on small insects

An acrobatic white plumed honeyeater feeding on small insects


 Leaving the kookaburra to its vocal gymnastics, I walk through a sculpture garden and down to the creek which is flowing quite swiftly as it has rained heavily in the last week. The rain has also stimulated some plants to flower and there is a healthy population of insects in the bushes and trees. The typical ‘wick wicky’ call alerts me to several white plumed honeyeaters that are energetically picking off lerps and ants high in the tall eucalyptus trees by the water. I spend a good ten minutes trying to get a definitive shot that shows their hunting strategies.

Galah feeding on the ground

Galah feeding on the ground


Rose breasted cockatoo or galah performing beak maintenance duties

Rose breasted cockatoo or galah performing beak maintenance duties


In the same stand of trees both rosellas and cockatoos are sheltering amongst the foliage. The cockies are particularly interesting as they have been feeding on the ground pulling up tubers and searching for seeds then returning to the trees to wipe their beaks on the branches; whether to clean, sharpen or what?…I am not sure.

Reeds by the banks of a small lake help filter out pollutants

Reeds by the banks of a small lake help filter out pollutants


Purple swamp hens are often seen using their huge feet to climb over reeds

Purple swamp hens are often seen using their huge feet to climb over reeds


Eurasian coots are found in Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe

Eurasian coots are found in Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe


 The trail is well defined and leads me past several different ecosystems. One of these is a chain of ponds that are surrounded by reeds. South Australia’s urban wetlands have been developed to help filter storm water run-off and improve the health of our creeks but they also serve as a wonderful habitat for water birds. Eurasian coots, purple swamp hens and dusky moorhens are all feeding close to the reeds and these birds would have been part of the diet of the Kaurna people who hunted along the nearby Sturt Creek.

The lobby of the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre

The lobby of the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre


Having spent a couple of hours exploring the trails and stopping to capture a representative batch of images, I wind up back at the cultural centre for a well earned cup of coffee and a pastry. In the next room there is a wonderful display of indigenous art and a timeline displaying the history of the Kuarna people. It seems a fitting and reflective way to end my first visit to this rather special park in the heart of Adelaide’ southern suburbs.


Until our next adventure


The Paralana Trail

29 Jun

Dear Reader 

It’s winter but you’d hardly know it. The afternoon sky is a clear endless blue and though there’s a hint of the approaching night’s cold desert chill, the temperature is still a comfortable 25 degrees. I am in the Arkaroola Wilderness reserve in the Gammon Ranges some 1000 kms north of Adelaide heading towards the Paralana hot springs. After a hearty breakfast in the resort’s dining room we have loaded our gear into Suzuki GV and locked in 4WD for the 30 km trip along one of the most interesting off road adventures in this world heritage region.

Ochre wall

Ochre wall (click to enlarge)

 We have been crawling over the rugged terrain for about 20 minutes and the stony track has opened into a dry creek bed. One section of the embankment is quite extraordinary; a wave shaped deposit of ochre that contrasts sharply with the surrounding bush. This significant deposit was of great importance to the Adnyamathanha people who used it in ceremonies and to trade with other Aboriginal groups.

Rock skink

Unknown skink species (click to enlarge)

 While the others break out a little gas stove to brew a ‘cuppa’ I walk along the creek bed camera in hand. The unseasonably warm weather has brought out a few reptiles that would normally be hibernating at this time of the year. They are wary and the only clue to their presence is an occasional rustle in the undergrowth. Finally, one little skink that is basking on a weathered tree trunk decides that remaining motionless is a better option than retreating, offering me a nice clear shot.

(click to enlarge)

Male mulga parrot (click to enlarge)

Femal mulga parrot feeding on blue bush berries

Female mulga parrot (click to enlarge)

 Just as I am about to make my way back to the vehicle a flash of colour amongst the skeletal branches of a long dead acacia tree catches my eye. I peer through the telephoto and focus on the turquoise plumage of a male mulga parrot. If it is the mating season then the female should be nearby and with a little persistence I find her on the ground feeding on some small yellow berries that are the fruit of a low growing saltbush-like plant.


Yellow footed rock wallabies on steep cliff (click to enlarge)

 Refreshed, we resume our drive along the trail, slowly climbing into the hills which provide spectacular views across the Gammons. Following a twisting descent down a narrow track we enter the spectacular Baranarra Gorge with its sheer rock walls and boulder strewn pools of clear fresh water.   Our progress has been slower than planned and it is late afternoon when we start to pick our way along the edge of the water hole. Almost immediately I hear the rattle of small rocks skittering down a steep rock face. Almost immediately I hear the rattle of small rocks skittering down a steep rock face. Looking up I catch sight of a pair of yellow footed rock wallabies precariously perched on the sheer cliff face. Once again, I am reminded of the extraordinary adaptations of these beautiful little animals. With their furry back feet perfectly designed for gripping rock surfaces, long counterbalancing tail and subtle camouflage, they are the Aussie equivalent of mountain goats.


Chopper based at Arkaroola Village (click to enlarge)

 Unfortunately our stay must be a short one as the light is starting to fade and we must head back to our home base at the village. Tomorrow we have decided to take a helicopter flight over the area to get an overall picture of the terrain before our next off road foray.



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