Aborigines of the Flinders Ranges
Discover ancient myths of Outback Australia
The Aborigines of the Flinders Ranges are the Adnyamathanha people who have been living in the area for thousands of years.
Are you interested in Aboriginal culture? - Let me take you on a mythical journey to sacred places and fascinating stories.
The local Adnyamathanha - that means hills or rock people - have a deep understanding of the land. Their stories of how this ancient landscape was created are as fascinating as the scientist's explanations.
Many natural features throughout the Flinders Ranges are connected with stories from the "creating time". Aboriginal dreamtime and dreaming are also terms white men use to explain what the Aborigines call "Tjukurrpa". The last full-blooded Adnyamathanha died in 1973, but many members of this tribal group live in the area. They have still strong ties to the land.
Aboriginal rock art - sacred canyon, Flinders Ranges
Sandstone walls with ancient Aboriginal rock engravings can be found in this small chasm. The canyon is only 19 km from the Wilpena Pound resort. A rough track runs from the main road to the car park at the gully's entrance. A short and pleasant walk along a dry creek bed lined with majestic river red gums leads you to the canyon. The age of the engravings is not known, but the Adnyamathanha people believe that the engravings were not made by people but were created for them by ancestral beings during the "Dreaming".
Arkaroo Rock is a small but important art site of the Aborigines in the Flinders Ranges. Ochre and charcoaled images of emu and bird tracks describe the creation of Wilpena Pound. Arkaroo rock is at the southern boundaries of Flinders Ranges National Park. From the car park it is an easy walk of about one hour (one way) to the site. Enjoy the open forest and the bird life.
Stories of the Aborigines of the Flinders Ranges
Yura Muda (Adnyamathanha Dreaming)
All the features of the land have a spiritual significance for Aboriginal people. The Flinders Ranges are the traditional home of the Adnyamathanha.
The Dreaming stories record the adventures of powerful ancestral beings. Sometimes in human form, sometimes in animal form, they created all the features of the land, and through their exploits, traditional Aboriginal Law is revealed. With this vast "history" Adnyamathanha preserved their knowledge of the land, traditional law and guidelines for everyday living.
(Source: info sign at Hucks lookout)Akurra the serpent - Akurra is a powerful dreamtime serpent, he lives always in or near water. There are many places in the Flinders Ranges that relate to Akurra's presence in the landscape.
Akurra can be at many places at once, single or as two Akkuras.
One story tells about the creation of waterholes in the Gammon Ranges.
Akurra was very thirsty, so he went to Lake Frome to drink. Akurra drank the entire salt water lake dry. While he went home, his bloated body carved gorges and made waterholes at places he camped. These waterholes are: Arkaroola waterhole (Akurrula Awi), Nooldoonooldoona (Nuldanuldanha), Bolla Bollana (Valivalinha), Mainwater Spring (Adlyu Vunhu Awi), and Yacki waterhole (Yaki Awi) where he finally stopped.
Here Akurra sits in the sun. His belly rumbling causes minor earth tremors every now and then.
(Source: Explore the Flinders Ranges by Sue Barker)
(Source: info sign Hucks lookout)
Yurlu the kingfisher - The Dreaming journey of Yurlu the old kingfisher man to Ikara (Wilpena Pound)
Yurlu journeyed south from his home at Karkalpunha (Termination Hill) to attend an important malkada (corroboree and initiation ceremony) at Ikara.
On the way, Yurlu made a big signal fire. The smoke was a sign that he was on his way to the ceremony. His fire created the coal at Leigh Creek and at other places where he lit fires on the way.
At the same time two Akurra (powerful Dreaming serpents) set out from Arrunha Akurra Awl (now covered by Aroona Dam) to travel south to Ikara. The Akurra Valadupa (male and female) entered Ikara through Vira Warldu (Edeowie Gap) and camped at Akurra Awl, a large waterhole.
The people looked up and saw bright stars rising. They took this as a sign to start the ceremony. They didn't realise that the stars were actually the eyes of the Akurra looking down at them.
When Yurlu the kingfisher arrived, the ceremony was well under way. Yurlu snatched the firestick from Walha the turkey and threw it up into the sky. This stick turned into the red star Wildu (Mars). The two Akurra came up on either side of the ceremonial ground in whirlwinds and caught and ate the people.
Only four escaped – the two initiates (Vardnapa ~ the new Vardnapa, and Yakamburu ~ the new Wilyaru), Walha the turkey and Yurlu the kingfisher.
Walha and Yurlu flew off south and the two initiates fled eastwards, watched by the Akurra. The bodies of the two Akurra form the sides of Wilpena Pound.
(Source: info sign at Hucks lookout)
Aboriginal dreamtime and culture is a complex social and spiritual system that is not always easy to understand for rationally thinking white people. However, for many it is a fascinating subject.Voices of the First Day)
Aboriginal Stories - enjoy this fascinating collection of Aboriginal myths and legends. The stories were gathered from various sources and represent various beliefs of Aboriginal people throughout Australia.
I hope you are enjoying the journey to the Aborigines of the Flinders Ranges.
Are you curious to learn more about the Aboriginal dreamtime? This link opens a new window to an interesting article about Aboriginal culture.It is a fascinating culture!
For more information about the Flinders Ranges please check out other pages.
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