Terrain is inspired by the area of South Australia known as Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, a landscape from where human beings draw life and express meaning to that life. The production explores the fundamental connection between Aboriginal people and land - how we treat our land, how we understand its spirit, and how we regard its future.

Terrain is presented as nine sections or 'states of experiencing' - the terrain of Kati Thanda. The sections depict particular features of the Lake Eyre environment as well as the culture of the traditional custodians, the Arabunna people.

Certain themes or provocations are presented throughout the work, including how we feel and acknowledge connection to 'place' - and how the experience of a place like Kati Thanda can inspire us to think about the power of an ancient land.


Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is the home of the Arabunna people who have maintained their deep connection with the Lake Eyre basin for thousands of years. In May 2012, the Arabunna people won land rights for Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre and its surrounds. Their understanding of the landscape, and all the variances of its ever-changing behaviour enable the Arabunna to read the landscape, know its purpose and be able to share stories with us about how Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre survives and thrives through its very dramatic natural cycles of flood, drought and everything in between.

The Arabunna read the landscape by different methods and indications from modern western ways. Days are measured by the length of shadows, or when the afternoon clouds roll in; months are measured by the level of salt crust on the surface of the lake: and years are measured by the rise and fall of waters, the sweep through ancient river systems, transforming the desert and bringing new life. Even more importantly, this knowledge serves to maintain the cultural life that has existed for the tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal people's relationship to the terrain of central Australia.


  • Set Designer Jacob Nash created 100 responses to landscape through paint to discover the language of the show.
  • Reginald Dodd OAM (Uncle Reg), Cultural Consultant for Terrain was awarded South Australia's Senior Australian of the year in 2019. In 2020, Uncle Reg was awarded the Order of Australia Medal.
  • Terrain is currently compulsory study for NSW Higher School Certificate Dance course.
  • There are 287 lights across the whole show.
  • Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is located in a catchment area of over 1.2 million square kilometres - about one sixth of Australia. It is one of the largest areas of internal drainage in the world.
  • On 22 May 2012, the Arabunna People achieved Native Title to 62,000 square kilometres of South Australia, including Kati Thanda.


The development of a new work is a process of typically 3-4 years commencing with a period on Country spending time with Indigenous Elders. At the end of a work’s life cycle, once it has been realised and performed to audiences all over Australia, we return the work to be performed on Country, in thanks and acknowledgement of the reciprocal relationship between the story and Country. Find out more about our Creative Life Cycle.