Skip to main content
Open Mobile MenuCall Us

Tjilbruke & Kaurna People

The Holdfast Bay area is the home of the Indigenous Kaurna people.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land.  We respect their spiritual relationship with the country that has developed over thousands of years and the cultural heritage and beliefs that remain important to Kaurna People today.

Sites such as the Tjilbruke springs are of special significance.  The spring was not only a source of drinking water but also significant in the Tjilbruke story.  A monument was erected on the site (242 Esplanade, Kingston Park) in 1972.

The Dreaming is a complex and multi layered story that tells of creation, the law and human relationships. The Tjilbruke Dreaming is the predominant dreaming of Southern Kaurna country.  It is about the creation of seven freshwater springs along the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Tjilbruke was an ancestral being of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, whose lands extended from Parewarangk (Cape Jervis) in the south, to Crystal Brook in the north.  Tjilbruke's much-loved nangari (nephew) Kulultuwi, his sister's son, killed a kari (emu) which was rightfully Tjilbruke's but he forgave him for this mistake.
However, Kulultuwi was subsequently killed by his two part brothers, Jurawi and Tetjawi, supposedly for breaking the law.

Tjilbruke, being a man of the law, had to decide if Kulultuwi had been lawfully killed. He determined Kulultuwi had been murdered.  Tjilbruke avenged the crime by spearing and burning the two nephews, killing them.  This happened in the vicinity of what is now called Warriparinga.

Tjilbruke then carried Kulultuwi's partly smoked dried body to Tulukudank (a fresh water spring at Kingston Park) to complete the smoking and then to Patparno (Rapid Bay) for burial in a perki (cave).  Along his journey he stopped to rest and, overwhelmed by sadness, he wept and his luki (tears) formed the freshwater springs along the coast at Ka'reildun (Hallett Cove), Tainba'rang (Port Noarlunga), Potartang (Red Ochre Cove), Ruwarung (Port Willunga), Witawali (Sellicks Beach), and Kongaratinga (near Wirrina Cove).

Saddened by these events, Tjilbruke decided he no longer wished to live as a man.  His spirit became a bird, the Tjilbruke (Glossy Ibis), and his body became a martowalan (memorial) in the form of the baruke (iron pyrites) outcrop at Barrukungga, the place of hidden fire (Brukunga - north of Nairne in the Adelaide Hills). Tjilbruke was a master at fire-making.

Back to top