Year: 2009

FOMS wins Major Award

Minister Jay Weatherill presents the DEH Award to FOMS President Colin Harris
Minister Jay Weatherill presents the DEH Award to FOMS President Colin Harris

At the 2009 South Australian Friends of Parks Forum held recently FOMS was presented with one of three prestigious awards from the Department for Environment and Heritage.

The award presented to FOMS, for outstanding achievement by a Friends group, was in recognition of the on-ground conservation and interpretation work that FOMS has been carrying out at the Peake Overland Telegraph Repeater Station near Oodnadatta in the Far North of the State. When FOMS first visited the site in 2007 it was concerned about the impact of an ever-increasing number of visitors on what is a nationally significant heritage site, the Peake being listed on both the South Australian and Australian heritage registers.

In 2008 FOMS commenced on-ground conservation works aimed at more effectively managing visitor impacts at the site, whilst at the same time explaining more effectively to visitors why the site is nationally significant. The work continued this year and the erection of two kilometres of fencing in the next few weeks will mark completion of the physical protection works. Subject to funding, self-guided walking tracks will be marked next year and interpretative information provided to identify and explain features of interest along the walks.

A feature of the work has been that it involves a broadly based partnership between FOMS, the Heritage Branch of DEH, S Kidman & Co as pastoral lessees of the land, the Pastoral Programme of the Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation and the Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board. It is believed that the strength of this partnership was one of the key factors in the decision to present FOMS with this award, the citation accompanying the award noting:

The most productive aspect of the project has been the partnership model. Without engaging partners from within and outside of government it would have been impossible for the Friends to undertake the work. At the same time, without the Friends undertaking its role of consulting with key parties, encouraging involvement and developing a programme of works acceptable to all interests, the work would not have been undertaken and the nationally significant heritage values of the site would have been further compromised.

The award was presented to FOMS President Colin Harris by the Hon Jay Weatherill, South Australian Minister of Environment and Conservation, at the Forum Dinner on 31 October 2009. It is intended that $1250 accompanying the award will be used for further work at the Peake and also at Strangways Springs Overland Telegraph Repeater Station.

It is pleasing that FOMS has gained this recognition only a few years after its formation and we look forward to developing further work programmes that contribute to the better management of the mound springs of our Far North.

The two other recipients of DEH awards were Friends of Scott Creek Conservation Park and Friends of Parks KI, Western Districts.

A Traditional Story from near Lake Eyre South

The Bubbler, with Hamilton Hill in background
The Bubbler, with Hamilton Hill in background

The wide flood-out of the Margaret River near the old railway siding of Curdimurka is the starting point for a story which involves a number of springs near Lake Eyre South, including the principal springs within the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park.

A Kuyani ancestor Kakakutanha is hunting the ancestral Rainbow Serpent Kanmari and the serpent escapes by disappearing into a spring on the north side of the Margaret. In pursuit of the serpent the ancestor arrives at the Little Bubbler spring Thari-tharinha, believing that the bubbles he can see are from the serpent, which is travelling underground. The serpent is not there, but at the nearby Bubbler Pirdalinha the ancestor comes upon it and kills it with a boomerang, the writhing convulsions of the water being the serpent in its death throes.

At Blanche Cup Thirka the ancestor cooks the serpent, the word thirka meaning an oven. The ancestor then throws away the head of the serpent and it becomes Wabma- kardayapu, the snake’s head of Hamilton Hill, the large extinct mound spring near Blanche Cup. At Mt Hamilton Spring Tjarrtha-njudlu south east of Blanche Cup the ancestor eats the serpent, leaving only a rib-bone without any meat for his wife. She subsequently places a curse on him and after journeying back towards Curdimurka via several other springs he eventually arrives at the tea tree-surrounded Kudna-ngampa springs.

Near death, his testicles having swollen to an enormous size, he calls all his people to him and then bursts, killing almost all of them and turning them into reeds. Hurled a long way off by the force of the explosion, his testicles become two little islands in Lake Eyre South called Kadlupinpipipalpila.

Adapted from Luise Hercus and Peter Sutton, 1985 ‘The Assessment of Aboriginal Cultural Significance of Mound Springs in South Australia’ in Heritage of the Mound Springs, Department of Environment & Planning South Australia, 1986.

FOMS Newsletter #9, July 2009

The Bubbler, with Hamilton Hill in background
The Bubbler, with Hamilton Hill in background

This newsletter edition features:

  • Overview of Great Artesian Basin Springs in Queensland
  • SA Arid Lands Comprehensive Natural Resources Management Plan taking Shape
  • What’s in a Name? A note on the spelling of Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park
  • Mound Spring Invertebrates – Research in Progress

A Traditional Story of Mangkapiljinha, Edith Springs

Arabana people talk with awe of two springs near Mt Margaret, one bright green, the other red like blood. The red spring is associated with a deadly curse that belongs to the Fish and Crane history and nothing will grow around it.

Nearby are said to be rocks that look like girls, a locality known as Thita-puntakanha, ‘Bushes Broken’. The crane had become so distracted by his obscenities with his daughters in law that he let go of the bushes with which they were sweeping the water for the two giant Yellow-bellies and the fish escaped. As a result of this a curse is uttered which belongs to the Mangkapilji spring: it makes people swell up and die.

Some say that the curse can be turned back by means of the right incantations, but no Arabana person will go anywhere near the Mangkapilji spring. They say the water is undrinkable in any case.

[From Heritage of the Mound Springs: the Assessment of Aboriginal Cultural Significance. Dr Luise Hercus & Dr Peter Sutton in association with Kinhill Stearns, South Australian Department of Environment & Planning, 1986. See also FOMS Newsletter No. 4 August 2007 for additional information on the Fish and Crane history]

The Peake – fencing works

Our most recent Newsletter, July 2008, carried a report detailing the on-ground conservation works carried out by FOMS members at the Peake in the course of our June 2008 field trip, and elsewhere in this Newsletter Simon Lewis has reported on the follow up trip of August 2008 to install State Heritage Branch interpretative signage at the site.

The third and final stage of the works will be carried out shortly with the installation of fencing adjacent to the final two kilometres of the Public Access Route (PAR) to the Peake heritage site. The fencing will prevent uncontrolled vehicle access and camping along the gidgee creek line immediately east of the site. It will also eliminate damaging vehicle access to the nearby cemetery. FOMS has initiated this final stage through the co-operation of two South Australian government agencies – the Department for Environment & Heritage and the Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation – and S Kidman & Co, the pastoral lessees of the Peake. The Government agencies have funded the materials for the fencing and Kidman & Co. will carry out the on-site installation. Up-dated signage provided by the Heritage Branch of DEH will also be installed.

The three stage program of works was developed by FOMS in consultation with the relevant government agencies and Kidman & Co. following the FOMS field trip of 2007. FOMS members on that trip were concerned at the increasing impact of largely uncontrolled visitation on the heritage site and adjacent Freeling Springs and in the wake of that visit FOMS took on a facilitating role to improve the situation, as well as providing voluntary labour for on-site works.

Some visitors familiar with the Peake will regret that camping will no longer be available along the gidgee creek line, but at such a remote site the fencing is the only feasible management option. Alternative camp sites can be found on several drainage lines crossing the Peake PAR and good camping is also available adjacent to the Oodnadatta track near the Peake PAR turn-off.

Signage Installed at the Peake

Colin Harris directs traffic while Jim Lomas lines up for another post-hole
Colin Harris directs traffic while Jim Lomas lines up for another post-hole
Job done. Sue Black and Colin Harris alongside one of the new signs
Job done. Sue Black and Colin Harris alongside one of the new signs

The ruins of the Peake Repeater Station and their surrounds have been a particular focus of attention for FOMS during 2008. In our July newsletter we reported on the work of FOMS members in installing bollards around the car-parking area during the trip in June. Elsewhere in this newsletter, Colin Harris reports on a FOMS initiative to erect protective fencing alongside the access track into the ruins.

In August 2008, FOMS members Sue Black, Colin Harris and Simon Lewis returned to the Peake to install signage at the ruins. The signage has been organised by the State Heritage Branch, Department for Environment and Heritage, and comprises small signs identifying each ruin (repeater station, police station etc) – consistent with similar signage installed previously at the Strangways ruins.

While the bollard-installation trip of June may be remembered by some for its crowbar blisters and sore backs, the installation of the signs was made easier through the generous assistance of S. Kidman’s then managers at the (new) Peake, Jim Lomas and Sarah Amey. Jim dug the holes with a tractor-mounted post-hole digger (following a slow trip up on the tractor from the new Peake) while Sarah proved a dab hand on the end of a shovel. Many thanks to Jim and Sarah for their welcome assistance.

The combination of the bollards, signage and soon-to-be-completed fencing comprises a significant step forward in efforts to conserve the Peake ruins, while also enhancing the experience for visitors.