Akurra Trail

The Akurra trail, located in the Northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia, highlights the interlinked relationship of language, culture, tradition, and country. Waterways, hills, rocks and copper deposits reflect the journeys of Spiritual Ancestors. You are invited to view this land through the eyes of the Adnyamathanha people, to learn Muda (History, Songline) and uncover the significant flora and fauna of this ancient place.

Way markers guide users along 10.5km of remote bushland, departing from Leigh Creek township. Signs provide rich information about Adnyamathanha language, Muda, flora and fauna along the way.

Click here to download a PDF map before embarking on the trail, alternatively download Avenza and the Akurra trail map to stay on the path without using an internet connection.

Stay tuned for cultural tours! Contact Leigh Creek Area School for more information.

Yurlu Muda, Yurlu History

The Yurlu (Kingfisher man) Muda, is a culturally significant Muda to the Leigh Creek and surrounding areas. The Muda follows in the footsteps of Ancestral beings and explores the creation of the Leigh Creek Coal Field, the Copley Cutaway Hills and Wilpena Pound.

Wadu widina Akurra valurdupa ikaangga Arrunha Awi-nga. Mityilypilanha Wartawinha Ngarnangarrinha. Yura apinha yukudinha Ikara-nga warandananga Yurlu wirri-nandyu Marlkada nguthamanantyala.

Yurlu ila adlya wirri ikanda, wandyu utya Marlkada nguthandyalu. Yurlu widinangguwa Kakarlpunha-ngurni ardla nguthaanggu ardla vundu nguthantyalu tha mai ambantyalu.Akurra valurdupa-nga nakuangga ardla vundu ngutiika, wangirrianggu valurdupa ngadu-ngadu-nhangga. Akurra valurdupa ngukaanggu Arrunha-awi-ngurni Copley-thadi. Yurlu wirri-nga ngukanda tha valurdupa uranga urapaku. Akurra valurdupa-nga vambata-pila wandhaanggu Copley-nga. Vambata-pila mityi Wartawinha Ngarnangarrinha.

Yurlu wandhaanggala ardla ngutiitandyu mai adna wandhaanggala anhanga. Inhaadi Yurlu-ru virla adina wanditha anhanga. Ardla wirdni adina wanditha anhanga tha muku mai adina wanditha anhanga.

Yurlu ngukanda Ikara-thadi. Akurra valurdupa ngukaangga Yurlu-nha uranga. Akurra valurdupa-nga idla nguthangga ngarlaka milyaru tha mathianggadna ngarlkuntyan-pila Yura apinha. Akurra valurdupa-nga Yura apinha ngalkuanggu. Inhamathanha Yurlu, marra Vardnapa ubmanaka, marra Wilyaru ubmanaka yadna utya wirrikangga. Akurra valurdupa-nga vambata wandhaanggu Ikara-nga. Valurdupa adina ikanda yulhupa.

A very long time ago, a giant serpent couple (Akurra valurdupa) were living in the waterhole at Aroona (Arrunha Awi). Their names were Wartawinha and Ngarnangarrinha. At this time many people (Yura) were gathering together at Wilpena Pound (Ikara) with the intention of holding an important ceremony (Marlkada). They were awaiting the arrival of the Kingfisher man (Yurlu). He was the ceremonial leader and was to conduct the Marlkada.

Yurlu came south from Termination Hill (Kakarlpunha). He stopped to make a large fire near Copley to cook damper and to send a smoke signal to the people waiting at Ikara. The Akurra couple saw the smoke and so the two became greedy and hatched a plan. They left Arrunha Awi and travelled towards Copley to wait for Yurlu to go past so that they could follow behind. They two mesas (hills) at Copley are the two serpents curled up, watching and waiting. The names of the two hills are Wartawinha and Ngarnangarrinha.

Yurlu left his fire burning and left some dampers cooking. Yurlu’s coal is still there. It is the coal field. Yurlu’s firestick and dampers have been found there.

Yurlu travelled on to Ikara, with the Akurra following on behind. The Akurra couple surrounded the people and then made a large whirlwind to catch them. They caught and ate the people but Yurlu, one new Vardnapa (initiated man – first stage) and one new Wilyaru (fully initiated man) escaped. The hills encircling Wilpena Pound are the Akurra surrounding the people. They will remain there forever.

Adnyamathanha yarta is full of life and abundant in both varlu (meat) and mai (vegetable food). The Adnyamathanha look to the country and sky for markers to read their environment. Scroll down to learn about different markers for different seasons, pay attention to the months in which the seasons occur.

Warlda Summer (November – March)

Mirnga Prickly Wattle (Elegant Wattle)

Mirnga nguri warndu watya ngalki-ngalkinda warlda-nga.

Mirnga gum tastes nice and juicy in summer.

We eat gum straight from the mirnga bush or soak it in water to make a syrupy drink. The leaves can be eaten with meat. The seeds are ground to make damper or mixed with water to make a paste which is fed to little children so that their bones grow strong. You can rub the paste onto babies’ gums when they are teething.

Minara Bullock Bush

Vukarra ngutiinda minara mai mutya-nintya.

When the north wind blows, the minara fruit are ripening.

This plant is culturally important to the Adnyamathanha as it is an Ararru moiety food, associated with one half of the Adnyamathanha society. In order to gather these small red fruits, the trees are shaken to make the fruit fall to the ground.

Maiaka Bush Banana

Maiaka ngama warndu pandyina.

The maiaka milk will help cure your body.

The vine produces a sweet, crisp fruit and white blossoms which are both edible. Part of the root (ngarndi) can be cooked in the ashes, but the Adnyamathanha make sure to leave a part of the ngarndi to grow. Maiaka juice is used to treat warts. After rain, maiaka grow in great abundance.

Iga Native Orange

Warndu urlkanyi yawinda iga mutya ninda idla.

The air smells beautiful when the iga fruit have ripened.

Summer is coming when the north wind blows to ripen the iga fruit. The iga is a significant tree as it represents the Adnyamathanha people. It is said that the Adnyamathanha can turn into an iga tree to hide and avoid danger.

Widla-widla Drought

Ngaingga, inhawartanha wida indandidla awi wakanha. Vani nutyu ninda yarta.

I feel sorry for all the trees that are dying because there’s no rain. The country is very dry. 

Leigh Creek and surrounding areas are in a drought which is impacting the survival of native plants and animals.

Udilhi Winter (May – August)


Vada Dead Finish

Ardla yaki-itaangga yulhupa; warndu vada ardla varlpa.

The vada fire burns for a long time; it makes good ashes.

The wood from the Dead-Finish tree is very hard and strong, and is used to make boomerangs, dishes and other artefacts. The green seeds can be eaten raw like peas; dry seeds can be ground and made into an edible paste or cooked in the ashes as seed cakes. Vada smoke has medicinal properties and eases breathing. It helps children sleep when they are sick. The thorns can be used to cure warts.

Warratyi Emu

Warratyi vapi-nga vapa apinha vilhandala ngarra-ngarrantyana.

The emu father takes over looking after the young emus.

The emu mother lays large eggs in winter when the billy button daisy bushes (vuyu widi) are starting to flower. The mother then needs to go off to feed. The father sits on the eggs and takes the babies around when they are young. Emu eggs are carved by the Yura people after blowing out the contents which are delicious scrambled or used in cakes or brownies. But they have to watch out for the father emu.

Yurlu Red-backed Kingfisher

Wadu widina, Yura miru mityi Yurlunha adlya wirri. Kakarlpunha-ngurni wailpiru yanaanggu Marlkada-ru.

A very long time ago, Kingfisher man was an important ceremonial leader. He travelled south from Mt Termination to conduct ceremonies.

Kingfishers are significant to Adnyamathanha. They migrate south in winter to signify it’s time for Marlkada (ceremony). When a kingfisher calls out early, it is promising a very hot day so people will need to collect water and wood promptly.

Miardityi Artunyi Orion and The Seven Sisters

Artunyi-apinha idla akananggadna wirikaanggadna ngairri-ru.

The Seven Sisters flew high up and found their home in the sky.

Orion in the north-eastern morning sky, and the Seven Sisters in the eastern morning sky, are celestial markers for the coming of winter. They signify that it is time for Marlkada (ceremony). The east to west winter orientation of the Milky Way (Warlivari) is another sign for ceremonies to begin.

Wiparu Whip Snake
Wabma vandyanda.

The snakes are hibernating.

The Whip Snake is associated with the Mathari moiety. Killing either the Whip Snake or King Brown is taboo to the Adnyamathaha.

Wirdluka Spring (August – October)

Vartapi Harlequin Mistletoe

Vartapi mai mardlaapanha.

The vartapi fruit are tiny.

This parasitic plant is spread by birds. Its sticky seeds get stuck to their beaks and are wiped away on other branches. The seed attaches itself to the bark and grows on the host plant. Vatapi features in a traditional story that teaches men to help care for children rather than pursue their own self-interests. The story explains how the awi irta (Rain Bird) got its red breast. Most vatapi are edible but some are poisonous.

Yadnha Processional Caterpillar

Yadnha vundyul-vundyula; uta nhimataka vidavidanhingina nhuda.

The caterpillars are very hairy; don’t touch them you’ll get itchy.

Look for the processional caterpillars which move along in single file, as this marks the season changing from winter to spring. They live in distinctive bag- shaped communal nests. Young boys must not go near these caterpillars for health reasons.

Urti Quandong

Urti utyu Mathari mai. Wirti wada- wada-nakadnai yarrayarrandyadna.

The urti are the Mathari moiety food. Shake the tree so the fruit will fall.

The sweet and tangy quandong fruit is in high demand from both people and animals. Adnyamathanha often eat the fruit raw, straight off the bush, dry them or make pies, jam, relish or dessert sauce. The local emus also have a fondness for this fruit.

Marlka Mulga

Yura-apinhanga marlka wadna, wirri, yardlu nguthatanggadna anhanga udi yapayapanda arara-ngarrinda.

Yura men and women made strong boomerangs, clubs and dishes from mulga, while singing happily and proudly.

Mulga apples are good eating in spring. Ashes from the burnt mulga tree are mixed with water to make a useful bush medicine, to treat burns and sores or applied to a child’s feet when they are having fever or convulsions.

Wildu Wedge-tailed eagle

Wildu wandatadna, bibi nhamba-nhambaka!

There’s an eagle over there, make sure you cover the baby!

The Wildu Urngi (Spirit eagle) is important to the Adnyamathanha. The Wildu Urngi can come and take children’s spirits away. You can hear the child crying out in the cry of the eagle.

Udkarri King-Brown
Uta utyu udkari nhimataka!

Don’t touch that King Brown!

The King Brown is associated with the Ararru moiety. According to Adnyamathanha Muda, the King Brown and the Whip Snake are both visible in the night sky. They are the Milky Way galaxy.

Please note: No fires are permitted on this trail.

The development of this trail is a partnership between the Leigh Creek Country Progress Association, Leigh Creek Area School, and the Mobile Language Team with funding from SA Health. This content remains the property of the Adnyamathanha community.