Kamilaroi man Len Waters leads Aboriginal astronomy event as part of Tamworth heritage festival

SKY HIGH: Kamilaroi man Len Waters was able to use some modern technology to deliver ancient Aboriginal stories and knowledge about the stars with a heritage week event at the Botanical gardens. Photo: Peter Hardin 190417PHD010
SKY HIGH: Kamilaroi man Len Waters was able to use some modern technology to deliver ancient Aboriginal stories and knowledge about the stars with a heritage week event at the Botanical gardens. Photo: Peter Hardin 190417PHD010

MODERN technology is helping bring ancient Kamilaroi stories to life like never before.

Tamworth Regional Council’s heritage festival is in full swing and there are a number of events focusing on Aboriginal culture and heritage as part of the region’s history.

Last night, attentions were shifted skyward with Kamilaroi-man Len Waters leading the “Stories Under the Stars” event, which explored the role astronomy has in local Aboriginal culture.

“Aboriginal culture, in particular Kamilaroi culture, has a very expansive cultural route to the sky,” Mr Waters said.

“The earth and the sky is all one rather than just individual items.”

Run in collaboration with the Tamworth Astronomy Club, modern telescopes and projectors were able to bring the stories of the stars closer than ever.

The astronomy club’s telescope was tracking Jupiter through the night, a star which Mr Waters said had significance as the child of the Sun woman and the creator.

The support for the event exceeded expectations of organisers with about 170 people registering interest, which was a good sign for Mr Waters.

“You’ve only got to look at how many chairs are here, there won’t be many Aboriginal people amongst those, so it shows that Tamworth is embracing having a cultural link back to traditional times,” he said.

“It’s a very important place, because Tamworth and surrounds is very heavily populated in sites that relate back to ceremony and ceremony is one of the most important things on our calendar.”

Mr Waters said there were a number of key figures in the sky that people would still recognise today.

“None more prevalent than the story of the Yarandoo, which is the Southern Cross,” he said.

He also spoke of the importance of the Emu in the Sky, or Dhinawan, which serves as a calendar and “ also talks about life and how we should be leading our lives”.

The position of in Emu would tell when different types of bush tucker were ready and also set down hunting restrictions.

Mr Waters spoke at length about the significance of the Dhinawan which is a pattern made up of dark “coalsacks” in the night sky.

“The Emu itself tells us of our life’s journey over the six months of winter,” he said.

“It tells us through her movements, the things that are happening around us, the weather is getting cooler, the emu is looking to create a nest and it tells us when we can sustain ourselves with the nourishment of the egg.

“Then there’s a time when she moves further across the sky, when it’s forbidden to go near a nest, becuae that’s when the eggs are incubated.”

Councillor and astronomy club member Phil Betts hopes its a connection that can be built on in the future to provide further education in the community.

“There’s very little difference to modern and ancient astronomy,” Cr Betts said.

“It’s the same the same stars and same moon that have always been there.”