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Environmental Sustainability

Environmental Sustainability

"We kept our waste separate. Middens were used so you didn't mess up your country, you keep your kitchen clean. You ate your food and threw the scraps into the midden site, but you lived away from it. The waterways were very important to the Aboriginal people's food source and we kept them clean."
Lewis O'Brien

"The waterways were very important to the Aboriginal people's food source and we kept them clean. Our way of living was the best living you could get. Fishing and food foraging and tribal business was still going on after settlement, and yet the British said we were the most wretched, and there they were wearing all those clothes on the beach in the hot summer." Georgina Williams [as a comparison: "The sewerage works used to be down near Royal Park and we used to swim at Ethelton just south of the Jervois bridge and all the sewerage used to flow down the Port River and you'd be swimming and this thing would float past. Just near the swimming hole there near the Jervois Bridge and Holdens used to dump stuff there and it was full of rats. Of course we played there but kids were getting bitten and getting  poisoned."
Vincent Copley

"The mangroves in the mudflats of the Port River provided a rich environment able to support a healthy fish nursery. Indigenous people knew that there was a place for everything, for people, for fish, for animals, for houses, for parklands, for trees. Indigenous people knew that you couldn’t just plant any kind of tree just anywhere. What if a fire happened? You couldn’t just cut down trees. What would bring the rain and reduce the levels of carbon in the air? Somehow Indigenous people knew that there had to be balance, their approach was more holistic. Indigenous people, through their teachings and stories and connection to the land, understood why the earth needed the ‘greenhouse effect’, why the ‘Ice Age’ happened. They couldn’t understand why Europeans didn’t comprehend the concept of balance and why they didn’t apply it to the development of the Port."

Like Uncle Lewis, Aunty Veronica Brodie (Kaurna Cultural Heritage Survey) spoke of her people's ‘sixth sense’, they knew where to find food, water, shelter, protection, companionship. Their stories were like mental maps, teaching them how to find things and how to respect not only the environment but territories belonging to other family groups that had to be crossed during their journeys west to east or north to south.

Uncle Lewis observed "When you live in small group the danger is that you talk mundane nonsense, so you do the mental exercise, you solve problems and do action research. It's more challenging to understand why it is so. Then you get elated when you get the answer, and we let each person work it out, we don't tell them. So you're keeping positive tension and keeping it interesting, continually learning and correcting, and getting corrected and learning yourself, and teaching and doing study all the time. It's more interesting because you're totally involved, you're on a path of learning. You can't be 'filled up' with learning, you have to do it yourselves. Our people’s cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with this land are of continuing importance today".

"Growing up as an Indigenous person in the Port, it was important that Uncle Lewis knew of the local ‘Dreaming’ stories as well as the ‘Dreamtime’ story. He was told how all of the Adelaide Plain was related to the Kangaroo with Lefevre Peninsula being the nose and Noarlunga being the elbow. Mt Lofty and Mt Bonython were the ears of the giant Nganno who travelled across the land of the Kaurna and, after being wounded in a battle lay down to die, forming the Mount Lofty Ranges. The Kaurna people called Mt Lofty and Mt Bonython Yurrebilla, meaning ‘twin ears’. Whilst the forced dispossession of land and removal of the Kaurna people from the Port area brought  disruption to the cultural teachings of the old ways, the ‘Dreaming’ stories and their significance to the Kaurna people today are being retold. The reinstatement of Kaurna language and culture in the Port and surrounds brings with it new enthusiasm to rediscover stories of cultural significance and relearn rituals for future generations to relate to and be proud of."
(Kaurna Cultural Heritage Survey)