Yerrakartarta (the title of this artwork) is a Kaurma Aboriginal word meaning ‘at random’ or ‘without design’. The Kaurma people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Adelaide area.
This vibrant artwork is little referred to in tourist literature and unless you are looking for it you will not stumble across it (unless you are staying in the Intercontinental Hotel) even though it is quite large, along North Terrace and beside the Adelaide Railway Station. In my last picture below you can see how it is tucked away from North Terrace, which runs along behind the trees.
The work, a tribute to the Kaurma people, was created between 1993 and 1994 and reflects the seemingly random order of the natural world, with its fossil like animal forms cut into the pavement representing the history of the land and its large ceramic mural depicting the Tjillbruke Dreaming story on the surrounding wall.
The Tjilbruke Dreaming story tells of creation, the law and human relationships.
Tjilbruke, an ancestor of the local Kaurna people, was faced with a dilemma when his much loved nephew, Kulultuwi, killed an emu. While Tjilbruke forgave his nephew, he was subsequently killed by his two part brothers, Jurawi and Tetjawi, for killing the emu.
Tjilbruke, a man of the law, determined that Kulultuwi had been murdered and avenged the crime by spearing and burning to death, Jurawi and Tetjawi.
While burying Kulultuwi, Tjilbruke became overwhelmed by sadness and wept. His tears created numerous freshwater springs along the coast.
After these events, Tjilbruke decided he no longer wished to live as a man. On his death his spirit became a bird, the Tjilbruke (Glossy Ibis), and his body became the iron pyrites outcrop at Barrukungga, the place of hidden fire, in the Adelaide Hills.
The artwork was created by Adelaide-based Kokatha Aboriginal artist, Darryl Pfitzner Milika, with the assistance of several other Aboriginal artists including Muriel Van Der Byl, Stephen Bowers, Jo Crawford and Jo Fraser.
While the work is very contemporary, elements of it will be immediately recognisable to those with a knowledge of the prehistoric Aboriginal rock art found throughout Australia.
This stunning, oft missed, artwork should not be missed.
Address: North Terrace
Directions: Adjacent to Adelaide Railway Station on the forecourt of the Intercontinental Hotel