Bush tucker is the food Australian Aboriginal People lived on Prior to colonisation. It includes edible plants, nuts, tubers, fruits, seafood and game.
Their understanding of Indigenous plants goes way beyond just knowing what is edible. They used plants for tools, weapons, and for medicine and healing. They understood the seasons and the life cycle of plants and animals and the effect that had on their own survival.
Food habits and diets varied from one region to another. In fact, they varied from one tribe to another. Local custom and belief affected what was hunted and gathered.
One tribe might have a particular animal as a totemic animal and would not harm it. For other tribes that animal might be fair game.
Whilst the men were the hunters, tracking large animals like wallabies and kangaroos, it was the women who collected the day-to-day tucker, such as roots, fruits, and small animals like lizards. Women have an uncanny ability to remember where they’ve seen plants and whether they can expect to find them fruiting or flowering, depending on the season.
Women were also the ones who went out, with the children in tow, to find turtles, water snakes, shellfish etc.
Some bush foods were simply thrown on a fire, baked and eaten. Others required considerable preparation – soaking, leeching, grating, grinding and then cooking.
Plants were also an important source of bush medicine. Most were applied, as rubs and poulices; or inhaled, for example by using crushed aromatic leaves.
In many Australian gardens and parks and native bush you will find many types of bush tucker. Some of these include
Lily Pily, Wattle, Water Lily, Tree fern, She-oak, Quandong, Paper bark, Grevillea, Davidson plum, Pig face…and many many more.
If you want to know specifically more about Australian Bush Tucker and where you can find it, and use it, there are many great books available to help you find your way.
We have had different books throughout our 10 years in our gallery and some have gone out of print in this time.
At present we are loving “Bush Tucker – Field Guide” by our much loved Bush tucker man Les Hiddens.
Click here to get your copy
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It is so wonderful that we have access to Bundjalang language and that we can keep it going by using it in our everyday lives with the names of local animals, plants, places, body parts etc.