Yunggorendi Inparrila Smoking Ceremony

Last Wednesday, the smoking ceremony of Yunggorendi Inparrila (Meeting Place) took place, and marks a significant step in Flinders University’s commitment to Reconciliation. Yunggorendi Inparrila, meaning ‘meeting place’ in Kaurna, is an outdoor space situated next to the Yunggorendi Mande (Building) which honours and acknowledges Country, cultural knowledge and learning.

The event saw the official handing over of the space to the University community to enjoy, learn, relax, celebrate, and gather in, marking the end of a two-year project.

Uncle Mickey O’Brien, Senior Kaurna man welcomed guests to Country and spoke of the importance of the site as a place of meeting and connecting to Country, the landscape and the special Kaurna stories of Nganu and Tjilbruke that tell the story of the surrounding land, sea and sky. He conducted a smoking ceremony which saw the space cleansed and invited ancestors to come guide and watch over Yunggorendi Inparrila and the community. Invited attendees partook in the ceremony by placing their own gum leaf in the fire pit.

Special guests Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien and Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA. Picture: Ben Searcy

Special guests included Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien, Kaurna Elder and Senior Elder on Campus and Dr. Jackie Huggins AM FAHA, who orated the 2021 Uncle Lewis Yarluburka O’Brien Public Lecture the day prior. To view the lecture, click here.

Professor Deborah West, interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students) highlighted how Yunggorendi Inparrila is an important initiative and a tangible example of Flinders commitment to Reconciliation that deepens the University’s commitment to the knowledges and cultures of First Nations peoples. She also acknowledged and thanked the significant bequest from the late Shirley Mathews. Ms Mathews was a student of Flinders University in the 1970s, and spent much of her life as a social worker. Upon her death in 2013, she left a generous bequest to the University and it’s this generosity which enabled Yunggorendi Inparrila to become a reality.

Associate Professor Simone Tur Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) and Dr Ali Baker, Senior Lecturer (CHASS), welcomed the meeting place finally being completed after a long journey which saw them initially propose the idea of a cultural space over 20 years ago. They too acknowledged the hard work of those involved and in particular thanked everyone who approached the project with special consideration and commitment to ‘tread lightly on country and on Nganu’.

Appreciating nature and the animals that also call it home, Associate Professor Tur also noted that the much beloved koala that lives around the Yunggorendi Mande and Registry Building is making its way back home to a key tree in the Yunggorendi Inparrila, and was spotted in a tree close by.

Uncle Mickey O’Brien performing the Welcome to Country. Picture: Ben Searcy

Yunggorendi Inparrila would not have been possible without the generous support and dedication of project stakeholders, WAX Design and Sarah Constructions. They conducted extensive engagement with staff, students, and Uncle Lewis O’Brien, Kaurna Elder and Senior Elder on Campus to ensure that Yunggorendi Inparrila met all the cultural, design and logistic requirements of this unique project. They have also each generously donated 50 bush tucker plants, which have been planted throughout the space, to show their support and understanding of the cultural significance of the project and their involvement in it. It should also be noted the dedicated work of the Flinders University Properties, Facilities and Development team for their support and assistance in managing the project from its inception two years ago.

The official opening of the space will be held in early 2022, when the final design component a Kaurna ‘Wardli’ – or shelter – is delivered and installed. In the meantime, Office of Indigenous and Strategy and Engagement are thrilled the space is now available to be used by the Flinders community.

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Office of Indigenous Strategy & Engagement Property Facilities and Development