Seasonal calendar and Yarning at Eaglehawk Waterhole

For thousands of years First Nations people looked after Country – walking, talking, observing, gathering, harvesting, appreciating what was around them – while working in with what each season has on offer. Nature Glenelg Trust was treated this past month to a walk on Country with members of the South East Aboriginal Focus Group at Eaglehawk Waterhole. This walk formed part of a project called Yarning the South East Seasons – with Country in mind. Thanks to David New from Limestone Coast Landscape Board for initiating this opportunity. Elders came from far and wide, including Port Augusta, Coorong and Mt Gambier. All First Nations participants had a family connection to the land we walked and talked on which could be heard, seen and felt during the day.

We firstly were welcomed by Frank and Bruce as we introduced ourselves around the yarning circle to understand how we all related to the country, the property, and our roles in each organisation. While we spoke, a beautiful Mouse Spider (Missulena sp.) wandered around the campfire area checking us all out, in a sense – welcoming us to this special place.

The Mouse Spider which greeted us at Eaglehawk Waterhole recently

We then headed off in our 4WDs for a tour to see as many different aspects to the land before sitting down for lunch. Within the first few minutes, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (Karak) made themselves known – when their characteristic calls were heard by Dougie while driving next to some stringybark trees. All vehicles came to a halt!! We quickly jumped out to see four birds feeding in the stringybarks next to the track. For some this was the first time they’d seen one, so very special.

A second stop was at a dam which had been planted with basket weaving plants (Cyperus gymnocaulos). This stop was popular for Poppy (the Border Collie) as she stole the show by swimming in the dam – to everyone’s delight. She wasn’t allowed in the car after that. Our third stop was to look for wattle gum; Elder Frank said we were too early but it was at this stop we were delighted to hear candidly about his knowledge of the area and some of the animal species he remembers seeing when growing up.

Our last stop before lunch was to look at a ‘Ring tree’. This particular tree (as highlighted by Dougie Nicholl) had been fashioned through intervention by First Nations people signifying the area was very important for cultural heritage.

Back at camp for lunch we enjoyed a fabulous spread of BBQ food cooked for us by Jacko (Sheryl’s hubby). Big thanks for cooking Jacko on the campfire – which in the end we had trouble leaving as the food and warmth were so inviting.

To top the day off Robyn, David and Bruce presented NGT with a large poster displaying the Seasonal Calendar for the area. It will be showcased at every opportunity at our reserves and added to as we remember the changes that occur in each of the six seasons.

Seasonal Calendar gifted to Nature Glenelg Trust by the SE Aboriginal Focus group

Nature Glenelg Trust looks forward to further day trips and cultural experiences on Eaglehawk in the future. Watch this short video for a summary of the day prepared by David New (Landscapes SA):

Bryan Haywood