This basket was made by a Ngarrindjeri woman from the Lake Alexandrina area of South Australia sometime around 1890.

'There is a whole ritual in weaving, from where we actually start, the centre part of the piece, you're creating loops to weave into, then you move into the circle. You keep going round and round creating the loops, and once the children do those stages they're talking, actually having a conversation, just like our old people. It's sharing time. And that's where our stories are told'.
Ngarrindjeri Elder Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, 2007.

Ellen Trevorrow is an Ngarrindjeri weaver and educator who regards herself a 'cultural weaver'. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge of basket making, Ngarrindjeri culture and ecology. Ellen's great, great grandmother, Louisa Karpany, was one of the Ngarrindjeri women making coiled baskets at the time this koyi (basket) was collected at Lake Alexandrina, around 1900.
Ngarrindjeri women and children have always harvested the reeds on their traditional lands from the edges of Lake Alexandrina. The women of the region have passed the knowledge of basket making from generation to generation, and they continue to use the same techniques, which encompass a range of different types of weaving to create baskets, nets and string bags.
Reeds are stripped and then dried. Some plant fibres are softened by chewing before the fibres are twined, and some plants are woven green. The collection and weaving process is communal on the shores of the lake. Like fishing, weaving has always been an opportunity to gather for storytelling.

Physical Description

Koyi (basket) made of rushes. Has handle and lid sliding on handle.

Local Name



In more recent times, the plants which are used for weaving by the Ngarrindjeri women have been catastrophically affected by modern industry and the restrictions in water caused by the ongoing governmental and industry mismanagement of resources. Commenting on this lack of care for Country and resources Ngarrindjeri Elder Aunty Ellen Trevorrow says:

'Although the basket weaving plants are growing once again, we are still conscious of the care and use of the weaving rushes. We always balance our need to collect rushes against the supply and reproduction of healthy plants and healthy country. Our ngatjis, the local plants and animals, tell us how we are going, and what we should do to keep the Coorong alive. Now the Working on Country crews are growing the rushes and planting them out in country, hoping to sustain the future of basket weaving and culture. Ngarrindjeri people have been relentless about asking the Murray Darling Basin Commission to ensure cultural flows are considered as part of critical human needs. We also ask that cultural flows reach all parts of the river to sustain our ngatjis, the native plants and the fish stocks. We believe that when our ngatjis die, we die.' Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, 2012


More Information