The Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation is working with SA Water to create pieces of artwork significant to the Boandik Aboriginal community in Mount Gambier, which explain the cultural significance of the regional city’s iconic Blue Lake – or WarWar.
This project is one of several partnership initiatives underway in the lead-up to National Reconciliation Week, and a key part of SA Water’s commitment to reconciliation.
SA Water’s Reconciliation Action Plan Coordinator Sarah Smith said the lake is a central source of drinking water for people living in the South East and a place of great importance to the Boandik people.
“Good sources of water mean a lot in Aboriginal culture – to have good, reliable water means survival, now and into the future,” Sarah said.
“Local Elders, together with several groups of Mount Gambier school students, are painting three panels to help explain this connection between people and water.
“Their artwork tells the story of the giant Boandik ancestor Craitbul, who wandered the land with his family looking for a place to settle and live in peace. They camped and made ovens at Mount Muirhead and Mount Schank, but were frightened away from the sites by the moaning voice of a bird spirit.
“Craitbul and his family fled to Mount Gambier, where they made another oven. One day, water came up from below and put out the oven’s fire, so Craitbul made another four ovens which are now the craters of Mount Gambier.
“The most well-known of these craters is WarWar. It’s believed Craitbul still sleeps in the depths of WarWar, and the revival of the Boandik language has awoken him.”
Along with the artwork, SA Water will be installing new signage at the lake’s main entrance, to further build awareness in the wider community of the site’s Boandik name.
“Preserving and reviving language is a key step in the path towards reconciliation, and it’s something I personally and as an employee of SA Water put great value in,” Sarah said.
“Linking back to our Reconciliation Action Plan, and two of the focus areas – respect and meaningful relationships – we want to use this project, as well as ongoing conversations and work with the community, to value the knowledge, experience and contribution of the Boandik people.”
The new signage and artwork, which will be displayed inside the Blue Lake pumping station, and open for organised tours year round, will be unveiled during National Reconciliation Week which runs from 27 May to 3 June.
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