13 May, 2021

Kaurna cultural practise returns to the Park Lands

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The Kaurna community is reviving a traditional practice, with a cultural burn in the Park Lands designed to improve relationships and biodiversity.

The City of Adelaide has partnered with the Kaurna community, Green Adelaide and the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA to deliver a pilot burn in a small area in Tuthangga/Park 17 in Adelaide’s south-eastern Park Lands.

The cultural burn, also called Kaurna Kardla Parranthi, will take place on Friday May 14 at approximately 11am (weather depending).

The project was initiated by the City of Adelaide Reconciliation Committee, which is Co-Chaired by Aunty Yvonne Agius and Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor.

“The Kaurna people used fire to manage the Adelaide plains for millennia. It has shaped our ecosystems and it is a very important cultural practice for the Kaurna people. Western science has picked up many of the clues left by Aboriginal land management techniques,” said the Lord Mayor.

“The reintroduction of cultural burning practices on Kaurna Country will help support the reconnection to culture and country by young Kaurna people and to assist in the broader reconciliation process.”

Kaurna elder Uncle Jeffrey Newchurch said the event will help build relationships with the community and the land.

“It’s protecting the country but it’s also enriching the country and it gives Kaurna and Aboriginal people that opportunity to revisit their land and attend to cultural sites of significance,” said Mr Newchurch.

Fire will be applied to open grassland and a small patch of revegetated native woodland. It will be a 'patchwork' or 'mosaic' burn that won't burn edge to edge and will leave some areas unburnt.

The project is intended to assist in the ecological management of a key biodiversity area. Fire has the unique quality of producing smoke and heat, both of which are known to activate seed germination, shoot growth, flowering and other processes in local native plants.

Traditional fire practitioner, Victor Steffensen is a descendant of the Tagalaka people in Northern Queensland and will work with Kaurna people for the inaugural burn. 

“The key is education so the community knows how to read the land, the soil, the trees, the fuel loads and the perfect conditions to ignite the right fire for the right country,” said Mr Steffensen.

“This will equip new practitioners with the right knowledge, to take care of the land.”

The fire will be low in intensity and pose no public health or safety risk to nearby residents, businesses or Park Lands users. The cultural burn will be undertaken by trained members of the Kaurna community alongside National Parks and Wildlife Service SA fire experts.

For more information

Jack Berketa