The history and culture of the 'Great South Land' and it's Sovereign Tribal Nations.


The ancient stories from The Great South Land are as numerous as they are complex. They are passed down to the younger generations by Elders, grandparents, parents, Aunts and Uncles. Some stories are about the ancestral Spirits, the creation of the earth, and the creation of man, and often refer to the Ancestors who came from the stars. Many stories are for entertainment, and they also contain moral lessons.  Many are also historical stories, some stories teach about the environment, and many stories also teach about astronomy. Some stories can be verified by physical evidence, which can help us understand how long the Sovereign Tribal Peoples have really occupied this country.



The ancient oral history of Yurlu the Kinfisher Man was passed down from the Ancestors of the Adnyamathanha Yura Peoples. It tells the story of  the remains of an ancient fire which became rocks, that have been buried underground since ancient times. The Adnyamathanha Yura Peoples of today have inherited the knowledge of these rocks from their Ancestors, in the following story:

Wardu, which means a very long time ago, Yurlu the Kingfisher Man lit a large signal fire. He did this in order to tell the Yura Miru Peoples at Ikara (the large central plain within Wilpena Pound), that he was coming to visit from the north. The coals of this fire became the coal deposit now mined at Leigh Creek. When Yurlu's fire burnt, the Kingfisher decided to cook mai (plant foods, damper) in the coals. Fire sticks and damper were the remains of the fire which were left behind by Yurlu. The Adnyamathanha people call the fire-sticks and damper Adla Widi Mai.

The rocks pictured below in the enclosure, were mined from Adnyamathanha Yura sacred land, between 30 to 40 metres below ground, and are thought to be around 230 million years old. The Adnyamathanha Yura people of today knew of the presence of these rocks below ground, prior to them being 'discovered' and dug up. The Adnyamathanha people recognise the pieces of fossilized wood as the fire-sticks used to start the signal fire, and the round rocks as the damper cooked in the fire by Yurlu. 

How could the Adnyamathanha Yura people know of the presence of these rocks, unless their Ancestors were living in this country before these rocks were buried? Just how long have Original Peoples lived on the Australian continent? 

This glimpse into ancient Adnyamathanha Yura oral history, and the photographs below, are reproduced here with permission of  Virdianha Walha Udi Marvyn Frederick McKenzie, who also took the photographs. 

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Above: Yurlu's firesticks and Damper, sacred cultural heritage objects of the Adnyamathanha Yura Peoples.                                                                                Photograph  © Virdianha Walha Udi Marvyn Frederick McKenzie.



Hydrogeologist Brad Moggridge studied Dreamtime stories and Kamilaroi art and artefacts from Northern New South Wales, together with the historic records of early settlers. He found that First Nation Peoples channelled, filtered and covered their water, and also dug wells and underground tunnel systems to access groundwater. Stories of the rainbow serpent refer to creation but also to the movement of water from underground to the surface, representing the rising of groundwater through springs. Moggridge discovered that European settlers gained their knowledge of groundwater from local tribes and trackers, and also that much of Australia's modern roads system is based on the ancient walking tracks, which followed water sources utilised by Australia's Original inhabitants. 1




Judy Skatssoon, The Lab: News in Science: Ancient Worlds, 'Aboriginal people built water tunnels', ABC Science Online interview with Brad Moggridge, 15/03/2006, ABC Website, available from: