“Waterlines” at Woorabinda

Text : Kathy Inverarity
Images: The Hut Community Centre, Alltrails, Ninti Media

Woorabinda Bushland Reserve at Stirling has a very special place in the heart of Ivan Tiwu Copley, Peramangk and Kaurna Elder.

This beautiful part of the Adelaide Hills with its body of water that waxes and wanes across the year’s seasons reminds him of his childhood. Ivan grew up with his parents on the plains of Adelaide city, but on weekends and holidays, his grandfather took him and his brothers wider afield to explore the  country of his ancestors.

Woorabinda Lake

Ivan told me about these expeditions, across the sandhills of the western suburbs, south to the Onkaparinga River, and east to the Adelaide Hills, as we walked around Woorabinda Lake one day in 2017 before returning to my place nearby to record an oral history *.

Ivan’s grandfather Stanley Copley was a keen bushman as well as being a trained motor mechanic. He loved to take his grandsons out fishing, hunting and camping, teaching them traditional ways of freshwater hunting for turtles and yabbies, chasing snakes and goannas, and telling  stories related to his Aboriginal childhood.

So the Waterlines Project based around Woorabinda Bushland Reserve  and designed with artist Laura Wills, fulfilled a long-held dream of Ivan’s to pass on this knowledge to new generations.

Laura Wills (Artist) and Ivan Tiwu Copley (Elder) at Woorabinda

It was a magical experience, in July 2019 to join the walking tour around Woorabinda Lake together with the children and young people from local schools who had brought the bush alive with their art installations.

The banners floating between tree-trunks, the patterned shield carved  into a tall stringybark, the fishtrap of woven cane lying at water’s edge, a small tablet sounding and showing the energy of ceaseless flowing water from the base of a tree. The rapt expressions of children and adults as they listened, and recalled creating and re-creating…

For the full and joyful experience watch the Waterlines video. Thanks to The Hut Community Centre and Ninti Media

* An interview with Ivan Tiwu Copley, by Kathy Inverarity, was recorded on 27/4/2017, Listen to a short excerpt here…

Excerpt of Interview of Ivan Tiwu Copley by Kathy Inverarity, 27/4/2017

The full interview is available here…

Complete Interview of Ivan Tiwu Copley by Kathy Inverarity, 27/4/2017

A transcript of the complete interview is available at our History Centre.

Do you have memories or knowledge of Woorabinda or the connection of indigenous inhabitants with the local area?

Contact us at mldhsgateways@mtloftyhistoricalsociety.org.au or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.