Helping heal Country

Original article from SA Water

Key Points

  • The Leigh Creek Mine Diversion project will safely relocate the current water main around the decommissioned coal mine for improved safety and maintenance access.
  • Removing the infrastructure from culturally significant land is an important step towards healing Country for the Adnyamathanha community.
  • This project is creating career pathways and enabling skill sharing as we work together to de-risk and accelerate the construction timeframe.

In Leigh Creek, located 550km north of Adelaide near the picturesque Flinders Rangers, our team is constructing a new 22.5km pipeline, relocating the current water main around the decommissioned coal mine for improved water security, safety and maintenance access.

The Water North (McConnell Dowell Diona JV) delivery team have more than 30 crew members working on the Leigh Creek mine diversion, who have been there for the past two months, learning more about the region and connection to Country from the four local Aboriginal workers employed for the project.

Water North Portfolio Manager Mario Borrello said skill sharing with the local community is vital.

“The opportunity to learn from each other creates a meaningful experience for everybody and improves our collective outcomes,” Mario said.

“Employing local workers on our crew has helped to safely accelerate the construction timeframe by sharing local knowledge. And, recruiting the young 19 year old novice on this project is essential in creating direct on-the-job training and mentoring.

“Sourcing equipment from the locally owned wet plant hire companies is also hugely beneficial, helping support jobs in the region.”

As part of NAIDOC Week, the Water North team at Leigh Creek held a toolbox where Danny Shannon, a local Adnyamathanha man told a dreamtime story about Yurlu the Kingfisher and its significance to Leigh Creek and surrounding Flinders Rangers. Danny explained:

“Wardu, which means a very long time ago, Yurlu the Kingfisher Man lit a large signal fire. He did this to tell the Yura Miru peoples at Ikara (a large central plain within Wilpena Pound), that he was coming to visit from the north. The coals of this fire became the coal deposit which was mined at Leigh Creek. When Yurlu’s fire burnt, the Kingfisher decided to cook mai (plant foods, damper) in the coals. Fire sticks and damper were the remains of the fire which were left behind by Yurlu. The Adnyamathanha people call the firesticks and damper Adla Widi Mai.”

Danny is delighted that the water pipeline is being moved out of the mine, which he explains is healing the land that is of cultural significance to the Adnyamathanha community. He feels this is an important step towards healing Country.

Graeme Worsley, Water North Leigh Creek Health and Safety Adviser, said the dreamtime story was a highlight.

“We need to learn more about the connection to Country and ensure culture is preserved, educated and celebrated,” Graeme said.