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Hiking app showcasing First Nations language and culture launches in South Australia

Traditional Owners in South Australia have worked alongside the South Australian Government to create an app showcasing Indigenous language and culture on the state’s newest multi-day walk.

Language and culture of the Ngarrindjeri nation has been built into the hiking app designed for visitors to use as an audio tour whilst traversing Wild South Coast Way, a new walk on the Heysen Trail which runs between Victor Harbour and Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula. 

Ramindjeri and Ngarrindjeri stories are showcased through the interactive app, such as the Ngurunderi creation story of Kondoli: Keeper of Fire and the Wururi (huntsman spider).

The app also provides a traditional welcome and farewell to Ramindjeri Ruwi country as well as reflections and meditations on traditional life. 

South Australia’s Heysen Trail is over 1200km long, passing through some of the state’s most diverse and breathtaking landscapes. Image: World Expeditions.

Ramindjeri Elder and Kool Tours founder Mark Koolmatrie was instrumental in the app’s design, alongside Ngarrindjeri linguist and artist Kyla McHughes and grandson of the late Ramindjeri Elder Henry Rankine, Jamie Rankine. 

Mr Koolmatrie said that the app provides an opportunity to strengthen Ramindjeri and Ngarrindjeri language and culture.

“In the past, a lot of language, stories and knowledge has been lost or watered down,” he said.

“It has strengthened me and my family, and I know it will do the same for our people, because it is a celebration of who we are.

“This project has brought our identity to the forefront and has brought some of what has been lost back to life.”

The app uses technology built into a walker’s mobile device to deliver curated content suited to the walker’s location on the trail. 

Mr Koolmatrie said that the combination of technology and traditional oral storytelling culture provided a contemporary way for visitors to the area to access the language and culture of the Ngarrindjeri nation.

“The app allows us to honour our oral tradition of sharing stories in a way that connects with people in today’s world,” he said.

“It’s exciting to think of the generations of people that will hear these stories and experience language on Ramindjeri Ruwi.”

Ramindjeri Elder Mark Koolmatrie has played a pivotal role in the app’s design. Image: The Times.

In announcing the launch of the app, South Australian Climate, Environment and Water Minister Susan Close said the project showcased Aboriginal culture and the South Australian landscape in a unique way.

“We are putting Traditional Owners at the forefront of our parks network, and ensuring their stories are an integral part of visitor experiences,” she said.

“This wonderful new initiative is a way in which we can help to share knowledge of the land that surrounds the Wild South Coast Way, allowing visitors to be their own tour guides.

“We’re proud that the app contains the largest, freely accessible audio record of Ngarrindjeri language that exists.”

National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers also feature on the app, providing insights on the unique plants, animals and experiences along the trail.

Wild South Way visitors can access the self-guided audio tour by downloading the SA National Parks Tour app before departing on their venture.

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