Tara Hills Retreat Centre

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Tara Hills Retreat Centre
Main School Vajrayana
Sub School Tibetan, Karma Kagyu, Vipassana, Burmese
Affiliation Lifeflow Meditation Centre
Founded 1982
Contact Infotmation
Address Native Valley
South Australia 5252
Country Australia
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Phone (08) 8379 9001
Website http://www.lifeflow.com.au/about_tara_hills.php
Email info@lifeflow.com.au

Tara Hills Retreat Centre

Tara Hills is the principal retreat centre for the Lifeflow Meditation Centre. It is set amongst the rolling hills, large gum trees and abundant bird life of peaceful Native Valley. It provides an ideal space for retreats: here you can open your senses to brilliant night sky, fresh air and expansive views that can be enjoyed from the property.

It's easy to get to, yet it provides the seclusion of being in a quiet corner of the countryside. It's about a 45 minute drive from Adelaide, just past Nairne in the Adelaide Hills.

Tara Hills was purchased in 1982 and has been used as a retreat centre since that time. The accomodation building,main teaching hall and dining room have all been purpose built by the Lifeflow Centre for retreat practice - providing a very comfortable environment and making full use of the surrounding views and countryside.

There are five main facilities

Walden retreat building - this is our larger accommodation building. There are 10 Standard single rooms. Each room has a good quality single bed, storage cupboard, plus a heater and fan. The building is very well insulated, and is pleasant throughout the year.

Our new architecturally designed accommodation building, in use from June 2015, features four rooms (either single or double) all with lovely north facing views across the valley and their own en suite facilities. (Photos coming soon!)

Glover hall - all group classes, meditation sessions and stretch and breathe sessions are held in this spacious hall of 100 square metres in size. Filled with natural light, it has great views onto our landscaped gardens and in the distance to the other side of Native Valley. Next to the hall we have a sheltered area for use during fine weather.

Namgyal House - this is where the Teachers stay when conducting retreats and classes. This is one of the original buildings on the property, constructed of western red cedar throughout. Up to three teachers stay here during our public retreats.

Maier Dining Room – this architect designed facility was completed in 2006, and includes a spacious kitchen, dining room and a disabled toilet. The dining room features stunning views across Native Valley and the surrounding farms; at times the view becomes a breath taking backdrop to mealtimes. Everyone who enters the dining room comments on the vast expanse of space, the open yet tranquil feeling that the room conveys. Click here to see a picture history of the construction of this building.

The property is 65 acres in size. We have begun a revegetation project at the bottom of one of the paddocks - when you are on retreat, you are welcome to walk through this area. In addition, we currently have a landscaping project underway - each time that you come to Tara Hills it will probably look a little different!

Also, there are many fine walks on the nearby roads and on a clear day there are expansive views all the way to the Coorong National Park.

Tara Hills is very easy to get to from Adelaide (via the freeway going through the Adelaide Hills), and normally only takes about 45 minutes from the city centre. We'll provide a map of directions to Tara Hills for anyone booking into a Lifeflow Retreat.

Aboriginal heritage around Tara Hills

The Tara Hills Retreat Centre in Native Valley lies within the traditional lands of the Peramangk people who lived in the Adelaide Hills for thousands of years before European settlement.

According to The Manning Index of South Australian History this area became known as Native Valley because it “was the site of a permanent Aboriginal encampment set amongst trees, with an assured water supply”.

The home lands of the Peramangk tribe stretch from Myponga and Currency Creek to Gawler and Angaston, east to Strathalbyn, Kanmantoo and Mannum and west through the Mount Lofty Ranges in line with Hahndorf, Woodside and Charleston. It is believed that when Europeans first arrived in the Adelaide Hills around 1830 there were close to 1000 Peramangk people living in the Mount Barker area and that they were often referred to as the Mount Barker tribe. Their neighbours to the west were the Kaurna people living on the Adelaide Plains. To the east and the south lie the lands of the Ngarrindjeri people and the country to the north through the northern Mount Lofty Ranges is the traditional home of the Ngadjuri tribe

The settlers called any land that was not surveyed and cultivated “wasteland” but in fact the countryside around Tara Hills was rich in native fauna and flora providing abundant food and water for the original owners as well as firewood and bark for dwellings, shields, canoes and utensils. The creeks flowed freely and the ridges and valleys were covered in red gums, sheoaks, acacias and native grasses. Kangaroos, wallabies, emus, possums, many varieties of birds, snakes and lizards were plentiful as well as edible plants and delicacies such as the moth grub, insect larvae and birds’ eggs. During the summer months the Peramangk moved freely through their territory and beyond, trading with their neighbours from the Adelaide Plains and the Murray River region. During the wet winter months, however, family groups stayed in their local areas camping in sheltered spots, and making homes in large red gum trees which had been hollowed out by fire. Bark sheets, animal skins and fallen tree branches were all used to keep out the rain and cold and possum and kangaroo skins would be worn for extra warmth. The Peramangk were well aware of the regular cycles of drought and rain and had learned to live with the land so that it continued to give and support life.

The introduction of crop farming and intensive stock grazing in the 1840s changed the land very quickly and made it impossible for the Peramangk to continue their traditional way of life. The changes also surprised the settlers, but they did not have the knowledge to reverse what they had put in place so the degradation of the land continued. Sheep and cattle polluted the creeks, introduced plants clogged the waterways and killed the native grasses, fences, dogs and the competition for pasture drove the native animals away from Native Valley and the clearing of the land destroyed much of the original forests. On top of this came introduced diseases such as small pox, whooping cough and measles to which the Peramangk people had little or no resistance. Many people died. Those who survived tended to move to other areas: down onto the plains or north and west to find more suitable homes with other tribes related by kinship ties.

Much evidence of the Peramangk people can still be found around Tara Hills. Ridge lines used as trade routes by the Peramangk turned into country roads. Hollowed red gum trees used for shelter, winter homes and storage can be seen throughout the district, some very close to Tara Hills in neighbouring paddocks. Trees where the bark has been cut away to build canoes and other utensils can also be found closeby. Listed heritage sites in the Native Valley area include camp sites, rock art, scar trees and stone placements

Peramangk heritage also lives on in many place names through the Adelaide Hills. Brukunga, the name of a small town near Tara Hills and for many years the site of a pyrite mine, comes from the Peramangk word Barruka-ngga meaning “a place of hidden fire”. The Peramangk are said to have traded fire-making kits with other tribes using the pyrite from this area. The Tjirbruki songline runs through the Brukunga area and according to the legend Tjirbruki’s body became a rocky outcrop at Brukunga.

Lartingga-parri means “flooding land creek” and is the site of the wetlands at Mt Barker now called Laratinga.

Kanmantoo, from the word Kungma tuko means “different speech”. The Peramangk people had a distinct pronunciation different from their neighbours.

Yurebilla means “two ears” referring to Mount Lofty and Mount Bonython.

Piccadilly Valleyfrom the word Picolda meaning “Earlobe Place” (from a traditional legend)

Kuitpo = sacred or forbidden place.

Tarra = land that rises up steeply, a steep hill or ridge.

Taingappa (Tainga-Tappa): Foot Track; Trail – A trail that follows the Marne River from Wongulla to the foot of Mount Crawford. This was an important trade route that linked the Peramangk and Nunguruku peoples. Significant camping and art sites are located along the river with hollowed trees, burial and artifact sites. Evidence of semi-permanent huts with stone foundations have also been located in the Eden Valley area and stone fish traps along the Marne River

Kangari-lla (Kangarilla) means “Caring Place”.

Cuddlee Creek comes from the words Kadli-parri meaning “Dingo creek” named after the wild dogs that were abundant in the area.

Echunga comes from Ityangga,meaning “near by place”.

Myponga from Maitpa-ngga (Autumn food place)

Today many of the descendants of the original Peramangk still live in the Adelaide Hills and other parts of South Australia. They continue to maintain a deep spiritual connection with their traditional lands and to practise their unique cultural and heritage beliefs. When you walk along the creek or through the paddocks at Tara Hills you may feel a connection with the “old people” who lived here and cared for the land long ago.

Robyn Walden 6/8/2009