The Way of Spirit …

Traditional stories and sacred places are a way to connect with the Aboriginal knowledge of this region. Our journeys touch on ancient pathways and link us to the spirit of the land. Visit the website at www.visitwaterfallway.com.au for more information. Aboriginal people tell the story of how the Rainbow Serpent created the gorge at Apsley Falls in the Dreamtime. Take a walk to one of the viewing platforms and you may see a rainbow in the mist of the falling water. The Rainbow Serpent is said to travel underground from the base of the falls to reappear at the mill hole near Walcha on the Apsley River, 20km upstream. The site is marked at Walcha by a mosaic by Gordon Hookey made with the ideas and help of the local Aboriginal community. Apsley Falls are in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, just off the Oxley Highway, 20km south of Walcha. The Rainbow Serpent mosaic in Walcha is opposite the end of Legge Street on Derby Street.

A new story a new journey

Waterfall Way The rock paintings at Mt Yarrowyck Nature Reserve, east of Armidale, tell another story. There is a short walk through the bush to see the paintings that include tracks, circles, short lines and dots painted with red ochre on an overhang under some granite boulders. These paintings are several hundreds of years old. One Aboriginal elder has explained that the paintings are about a ground feeding bird. The toes of the bird tracks are too short to be an emu so they probably represent the plains turkey or bustard. Mt Yarrowyck is on the Bundarra to Uralla road, about 1km north of the junction with the road to Armidale. The nature reserve is on the right (north) side of the road. Further north, there is a special area known as the Tingha Stonewoman Aboriginal Area. This place highlights the importance of natural features that occur within the landscape and are associated with the teachings of Aboriginal lore and song lines. We are lucky here in Tingha that the Stonewoman story can, and is, still being told.

The site is a women’s teaching area although the local community have agreed that men may also visit this site. The signs tell the story of one of the lores relating to marriage and what the outcomes could be if this lore was ignored. If you visit, take the time to sit and appreciate this unusual rock feature and think about what the traditional life of the local people would have been like. The community would also appreciate it if visitors left the site before 3.00pm. To visit the Stonewoman site from Tingha, follow the New Valley Road (Ruby Street) south for 700 metres before turning right onto Kempton Road. Follow Kempton Road for 2.7km before continuing straight ahead on what becomes Long Gully Road, a further 2.1km will bring you to the car park adjacent to Long Creek. You may either drive or walk a further 300 metres south along the road to a pedestrian gate. From here, follow the signs for 750 metres to the site itself.

Waterfall Way If you want to learn more about Aboriginal life, the Armidale and Regional Cultural Centre and Keeping Place in Armidale has a well-signed bush tucker walk, and exhibitions of Aboriginal culture and art. The Centre also runs holiday programs and study tours. The Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Arrawarra on the coast, north of Coffs Harbour, runs bush tucker and bush medicine guided tours, arts and crafts, and cultural activities. There is a gallery of Aboriginal art and a bush tucker café. Near the boat ramp at Arrawarra beach, you can see arrangements of stone that were used as a fish trap by Aboriginal people. The trap would be baited with shellfish or meat and the fish would swim in on a high tide and once the trap was full, the entrance would be blocked, catching the fish inside.

Further south, at Yarriabini National Park, a modern sculpture marks the significance of the area to the Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti people. Yarriabini means ‘koala rolling’ and is the traditional name for the coastal mountain also known as Yarrahapinni. The sculpture tells the spiritual story of a koala that was cut up by an enemy. The koala’s head rolled down the mountain creating a gully on the southern side. The rest of his body became the three peaks of Yarriabini. Yarriabini National Park is east of the Pacific Highway. Turn east to Scotts Head Road, then south onto Way Way Creek Road which leads to The Pines picnic area and the sculpture.

Waterfall Way “See that’s like certain time of the year, you get more types of different fish than other fish, you know like the jewfish might be runnin’ pretty well middle of winter or something. Then you might get say, sea bream, they might be around. You see the white yeller butterfly all over the place, down on the beaches there you see ‘em flyin’ everywhere, well that’s when the big sea bream are around. Then you see the whiting and that sort of stuff, you know they’re comin’ probably November. And that’s how they would have worked, like there was a – when those big seasons start, then they’d come together you know. But yeah, all different signs you gotta watch when different fish is comin’ through.” Tony Perkins, Yarrawarra

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