Hookina Creek has been identified as an important cultural, archaeological, biological and hydrological site, and is the only registered storyline in South Australia under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988. Hookina Spring (Pungka Pudanha) is an important healing spring for the Adnyamathanha people and there is strong interest from the local community to maintain the spring against threats such as erosion, livestock grazing, water extraction, tourism, weeds and feral animals which could damage the ecological and cultural value of the site. Engagement with the Adnyamathanha people was undertaken at the outset of the project to learn of their experiences and understanding of the spring.
The objective was to provide an understanding of the nature of the spring and creek system by identifying the source of water flowing from the spring using groundwater age dating and hydrochemical analyses. The aims were to identify whether the spring is vulnerable to changes in land use at a local or regional scale and whether water management might effective in mitigating potential impacts.
Spring water and groundwater samples were collected. The age of the water suggests an older regional source for the spring rather than a recent local source, which suggests that local changes in land use would not have a great impact on spring flow.
The results of our study have helped the Adnyamathanha community gain a better understanding of the groundwater processes that likely govern Pungka Pudanha Spring hydrology and factors that need to be considered to effectively manage potential impacts. Furthermore, this project has helped DEWNR’s scientists, policy officers and water planners better understand the relationship between Traditional Owners and culturally important sites, and is an example of how Aboriginal knowledge can enhance and improve our approach to natural resources management.