By Graduate Student Susan Arthure
The Warriparinga Archaeological Field Methods School took place from 11 to 21 April 2011. A group of twenty graduate students joined four Flinders University staff for a two week blitz of navigation, mapping and surveying.
Living Kaurna Cultural Centre, Warriparinga
Warriparinga is located in a ‘triangle’ of land in the Marion Council area, just a short walk down the hill from Flinders University. The name comes from a Kaurna term meaning ‘windy place by the river’ and it is both a Kaurna ceremonial meeting place and a European early settlement site. For the Kaurna people, it plays a central role in the Tjirbruki Dreaming – Warriparinga was where Tjirbruki avenged the unlawful killing of his nephew. In the post-contact years, the Warriparinga area was the site of vineyards and orchards, a homestead (Fairford House) and wine cellars. Today, the new Living Kaurna Cultural Centre sits alongside the nineteenth century Fairford House, between the sculptural Tjirbruki Gateway and the original cottage style gardens, with the Sturt Creek running alongside.
What a second semester it has been! The last few months have gone by in a blur with the research work needed for my ‘ethnohistory of Tea Tree Gully’ project. It is amazing the effects of focussing on one area for quite some time can have on a person too. Now it is difficult for me to look around Adelaide and Tea Tree Gully’s landscape and not imagine Kaurna people living traditionally among the beautiful vegetation plains. It has also made me think more on a daily basis, of the effects that colonisation has had on Kaurna people.
In general it has increased my awareness of the need to include Indigenous histories, stories and culture into education systems. I think it should be viewed as an important part of Australian history lessons given in primary schools so that children grow up knowing how special the land is to Indigenous people and are taught respect for Aboriginal culture.
I have enjoyed this topic, both for its challenges and rare insights into the historical literature necessary for the report. Tomorrow marks the end of the topic and the beginning of research presentations. Goodluck everyone!
This Monday came with somewhat of a relief, with semester two Directed Studies reports handed up. The prior few weeks have been a scramble to make final searches, interpret and write sections of the report, whilst still making sense 9-10,000 words in.
The most difficult aspect of this report’s journey (apart from writing it!)was probably the realization and gradual acceptance, that whatever findings were gained, it was in fact something to report. It was a long, slow, slog trying to find information about Kaurna people, sites and experiences of settlement in the Tea Tree Gully area, but thankfully (amid the piles of mostly dead ends), there were some indicators.
Without revealing too much from my research project’s results, some interesting clues about the relationship between the settlers and Kaurna of Tea Tree Gully during the settlement period were found, along with sites of known Kaurna occupation and use of the land.
There was some archival material that shocked me a little early on, but the further I searched, the more common such accounts seemed for their time and provided more of an insight into views of the period than anything else. My favourite findings would have to be the local reminiscences from individuals of pioneer families. Personal reflections that mention Kaurna people in Tea Tree Gully during this period were so scarce that good or bad, the memories provided a unique look into settlement life and the events of colonisation.
Slowly but surely, time is creeping away for all research and writing. Lately I’ve been fine honing what I should be looking for and chipping as far as I can into the mammoth of microfilm, archived material and any other sources of relevance. There are many sources in the literature of Kaurna culture and historic accounts within Adelaide, however very few on Tea Tree Gully’s Kaurna people and sites – the basis of my ethnohistory research project.
It has been a difficult hunt. Recently I read 30 years worth of Highercombe (prior Tea Tree Gully district council area) council meeting minutes from 1853-1884.. a very time expensive process! I also searched letters of communication from the colonial secretary for quarterly reports from the Protector of Aborigines during this period. The findings were quite interesting, and at times confronting – to read handwritten letters of real accounts between the settlers and Kaurna people. It seems I am slowly finding a flickering, fragile view of life during these times.
The report is slowly coming together. I would love to be able to gain a greater perspective of the settlement experience from Kaurna people and not through European lenses and accounts, however the few good Kaurna sources I do have will have to suffice without the adequate time or ethical clearance to research as far as is needed for this project. The careful interpretation of all these sources will be both the hardest and important parts of the research.