Connecting with Country at Nature Festival

Nature Festival returns again for two weeks in October and among the more than 300 events statewide is a collection that promises a deep dive into the rich heritage of the Kaurna people.

Jack Buckskin is a cultural ambassador for the state's Nature Festival

Jack Buckskin is a cultural ambassador for the state's Nature Festival

This will be Jack Buckskin’s fourth year as a cultural ambassador for the state’s Nature Festival. The proud Kaurna, Narungga and Wirangu man was tapped on the shoulder by the organising team for the inaugural event and has seen it grow not only in size, but also in its First Nations program.

“To watch the progression over the last few years, it’s been amazing,” Buckskin said.

“There’s been a lot more inclusion of Aboriginal stories, while Aboriginal knowledge is embedded throughout Nature Festival.”

He has noticed a growing interest from the wider community in connecting with nature and being guided by First Nations people on Country, and is pleased to represent his community and for many others to also have the chance to share their voices.

“We all come with different skills and backgrounds, so the festival creates an opportunity for non-Aboriginal people to engage and work with Aboriginal people and businesses,” he said. “It’s nice to bridge the gap [between them].”

For this year’s Nature Festival, Buckskin is hosting Journeying Home Through Language, a Kaurna language workshop.

He has been instrumental in the Kaurna language movement for almost two decades, teaching at schools and involved in many projects, including recording sound files for the Southern Kaurna Place Names project.

“Language is a massive part of environment and Country,” he said.

“So, we thought let’s do something to give people that understanding on how to pronounce these words that they might see out in Country, out in nature and place names that, hopefully, they can pronounce a little more correctly.”

While Buckskin was born and raised in Adelaide, the land of Yorke Peninsula is important to him.

“It’s where my family was taken to the mission and reserve that was over there,” he said of Point Pearce.

The Point Pearce Mission was established in 1868 as a permanent settlement for the Narungga people dispossessed when European settlers and widespread farming took over almost the entire peninsula.

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“But we get the opportunity to go back to Yorkes a fair bit – not just for funerals and [key events] – but to connect back to Country and culture.

“It’s probably the most accessible place for us to continue cultural practices.

“And I love the opportunity to share it with [my children], taking them back home so they see more positives of the place than all the negatives when I was a kid.”

Nature Festival will officially open on Saturday, September 30 with a free family picnic at Carrick Hill, with Kaurna women’s cultural group Ngangki Warra, who are also festival cultural ambassadors, performing the Welcome to Country.

The day will also feature a taste of cultural activities, such as weaving with Kaurna Elder Elaine Magais and a Kaurna bush tucker workshop with Southern Cultural Immersion.

The fortnight-long Nature Festival includes 30 events presented by local First Nations people. Among them are:

Kaurna Yerta – The Seasons  This world premiere, hosted by The Bowerbird Collective, is a one-hour cinematic concert features stunning visuals, immersive soundscapes, song, dance and ceremony. With new music for string quintet and traditional instruments by David John Lang.

Tjilbruke/Tjirbruki Dreaming with Karl Winda Telfer  Connect with the ancient Song of the Tjilbruke/Tjirbruki Dreaming Track alongside Burka-Senior Man Karl Winda Telfer. As the wisdom holder of this profound Dreaming Track, Karl will guide attendees in understanding its cultural and spiritual significance.

Paint and Sip: Kaurna Art Workshop Led by First Nations artists, unleash your creativity and explore traditional symbols used to tell captivating stories through art. Enjoy complimentary wine on arrival and indulge in bush tucker canapés.

Nature Festival runs 1–15 October 2023 at various locations across the state.

Buy tickets and explore the full program here.

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