A South Australian community has hosted a cycling event to help rekindle a dwindling language.
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21 Oct 2013 - 2:44 PM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2013 - 3:17 PM

(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)

In a different spin on language learning, a South Australian community has hosted a cycling event to help rekindle a dwindling language.

The inaugural Cycling for Culture ride aimed to revive the Kaurna language with a two-wheeled tour of important Indigenous history sites throughout Adelaide.

Karen Ashford with the details.

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The intrepid cyclists - black and white, young and old - gather for a welcome to country before their 275 kilometre odyssey through Kaurna country.

Kaurna leader Katrina Power says it's a significant moment.

"I am really proud as a Kaurna woman and really proud as an Australian to see white fellas and black fellas working together . I'm going to sing and dance up to the ancestors to keep each of you riders in particular safe. I cannot honour you enough and I hope this ride today if the first of years and years of rides ahead. (speaks in kaurna, fade out)"

The aim is to teacher riders the stories behind the traditional names for dreamtime sites along their travels.

Footballers Che Cockatoo Collins and Gavin Wanganeen are donning the lycra to be amongst the cultural guides on the journey.

Mr Wanganeen says it's a rescue mission with a difference.

"I'm involved in the ride because I got invited to obviously and I accepted happily, I thought it a great opportunity to encourage other people to do the ride and also to learn about the Kaurna Plains people, the traditional owners of this country and also to raise awareness around the language, how it's a dying language, and we need to get it up and running again because without your own language you pretty much don't have a culture."

The group's pace setter is Tour Down Under champion Patrick Jonker.

As part of his training, he's ridden past Kaurna-named towns and important cultural sites without realising their significance.

"Very important for me today - we'll be riding on the roads that I've ridden for about 20 years, but today I'm going to learn a little bit, well, a lot, about the indigenous culture and the meanings of certain roads that I've passed for many years in the years gone by."

Riders come from all walks of life, from students to prominent decision makers keen to get a better grasp of Aboriginal culture.

Amongst them is Magistrate Stephen Leischke, who's amongst a group of judges and lawmakers embracing cultural diversity in their work.

"I think it's really important. We really need to understand all the different Aboriginal cultures and especially the Kaurna culture, which is where we live. It's a fantastically rich culture, it's an ancient culture and we know so little about it, so it's important that decision makers and people who exercise power in our culture, in relation to Kaurna people, understand their culture so we can do it more fairly and better."

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ian Hunter hopes the event will foster greater acceptance of the original Aboriginal place names being used alongside mainstream names.

He says riders are putting not just muscle, but money to the cause too.

"It's raising funds for the Kaurna community to put into their language program, but more importantly I think it's actually a celebration of culture, a celebration of language and driving home to the wider community how important it is that Aboriginal communities can still practice their culture, speak their language and teach us all about wider diversity."

Dean of indigenous Scholarship at the University of South Australia Professor Peter Buckskin says the event is a creative way of imparting knowledge.

"A language is about understanding culture and it goes really deep. When you unpack the language you clearly unpack the connection to land and to the waters of the lands which the people live on, and by that analysis and digging deep, understanding the words and the structure of the language you get to understand the people."

Kaurna elder Steve Goldsmith hopes the event will have a lasting impact into future generations.

"We have young bike riders who are being encouraged to not only participate in these sort of activities community building, but also to learn about a more healthier lifestyle so it's got a lot of positive impacts on different levels, but more so is creating a united community. It helps to highlight our plight in bringing our language back and also planting something not only for today but future Kaurna children and the children of all these other people that are here today."

A smoking ceremony spiritually cleansed riders, before they set off on Tjilbruke dreaming trail for three days of culture and camaraderie.

"On your bikes! Safe and strong journey to all of you (Clapping fades)...