AILA SA Connection to Country Update

21 November 2023


It was wonderful to experience the 2023 Festival of Landscape Architecture: UN/EARTH here at Tarntanya/ Adelaide on Kaurna Meyunna Yerta and to welcome visitors to this place.

Congratulations to the Creative Directors: Lyndon Slavin, Dr Tanya Court, Dr Scott Hawken and Gemma Kleinig on putting together an excellent program and diverse range of speakers that did indeed unearth many amazing subjects, ideas and projects to excite and delight.

I was proud to volunteer and assist with the Willunga Basin Cultural & Ecological Regeneration Tour on the Sunday after the Festival. The tour was well attended by around 20 people and included a visit to the Trilbruke Gateway at Warriparinga then meeting on Country at McLaren Vale with Karl Winda Telfer, Senior Custodian of the Dry Forest Country before lunch at Chalk Hill Winery.

After lunch it was a visit to the biodynamic vineyard of Hither & Yon then a visit to experience the unique coastal freshwater system of the Washpool before travelling on to L50K for a walk & talk with Dr Gavin Malone about the Cultural and Ecological Regeneration Project that is Lot 50 Kanyanapilla. The day finished with wine tasting hosted by Hither & Yon at the Sand Hill Shelter overlooking the Willunga Basin before a dash back to Adelaide on the bus so people could make their flights home.

As the year draws to a close, I reflect on the relationships that both, First Nations people and us New Australians have with Country. This is the land where most of us were born and grew up and I reflect on how those relationships have evolved and matured for most Australians but have also been challenged over the last 12 months. This was well illustrated in the rejection of The Voice to Parliament and the level of ‘debate’ in the lead up to it’s defeat.

As the Connection to Country Committee has ‘settled in’ over the last year I found myself asking, what does it actually mean to ‘connect to country’? Country may be strong in Central Australia but it is much more subtle amongst our urban fabric. It is important to seek out and listen to those with knowledge of such things.

However, it is important to understand the ‘cultural load’ that results from us whitefellas wanting more and more from cultural knowledge holders and to acknowledge and respect this.

It is heartening to uncover some emerging First Nations enterprises with strong cultural connections and initiatives to develop and share knowledge such as Kuma Kaaru.

The South Australian Aboriginal Tourism Operators Council (SAATOC), is a professional tourism association specifically for Aboriginal-owned tourism businesses that is being established to drive the development of authentic Aboriginal tourism products and experiences in the state.

This is my last E Alert and I would like to say that it has been a wonderful experience chairing the Committee over the last 2 years and I give thanks to Jared, Kate, Jo, Peter, Grace for their support and input and of course Sally Bolton who keeps it all together.

There have been a couple of E Alerts from the heart that embodied the art of storytelling to convey thoughts and feelings of both, confusion and understanding. Deep learning can be a slow process and happens at its own pace.

Finally, we are currently looking for new members on the AILA SA Connection to Country Committee to help explore and drive some new ideas as there are a couple of people standing down including yours truly.

Perhaps our next meeting in the New Year can be face to face.

Future Events

Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness Training

Connection to Country Conversations Series

LAs in Public Practice LAPP Roundtable with ODASA

Cultural Surveys for all Metro & Regional Councils?


Paul Harding
AILA SA Connection to Country Committee Chair