Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Goodbye OzNZVeganMoFo & Bush Tucker

Today is the last day of OzNZVeganMoFo. Tomorrow there will be the start of the worldwide VeganMoFo, in which I also plan to participate.

So what is the ultimate Aussie food for the final Australian MoFo post? I haven't covered so many foods and traditions. (Oh well, there is always next year.) However, I do want to mention a very important and overlooked Australian food tradition.

Tonight, I thought I would mention bush tucker. I am not an indigenous Australia, so I am not familiar with much of Australia's food history. Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders have food traditions that reach back over 40,000 years. Their land use, including the use of fire to encourage favourable plants, changed the Australian landscape in a form of land management which preserved the land, resources, flora and fauna far better than European settlers have managed in the last 200 odd years.

In parts of Australia, Indigenous people traded over hundred of kilometres (central Australia, evidenced by rock items displaced by almost the length of the continent). Aboriginal people sent carved message stick invitations to other nations, over similar distances in a form of recorded communication. (The writing-like nature of these permanently recorded messages have been ignored in a privileging of written forms, by many European discussion of Aboriginal culture.) Some groups hosted food festivals like the Bunya nut celebrations for groups from all around their region.

Other than the ever popular macadamia nut, it is only in the last few years that non-indigenous people have paid much attention to this rich tradition. It is now possible to buy wattle seed and lemon myrtle based seasoning. You can also buy bush lime and other traditional fruits in jams, chutneys and sauces.

Well, here are my approaches to bush tucker plants, from my garden. They are all native to the Brisbane area, as well as other areas of Australia.

Midyin berry (Austromyrtus dulcis) amongst my beans and nasturtiums. This low shrub will have red sweet, ginger-flavoured berries later.

Native ginger (Alpinea Caerulea). This tall quick-growing plant will have blue edible berry and leaves which can be used to wrap food for cooking.

Lilly pilly (Syzygium australe), which is a small tree/large shrub with more edible berries.

I haven't had any crop from these young plants yet, but I am hoping for fruit this season and will blog about them if I get them.

Goodbye Aussie MoFo!


  1. Great post! I think it's so cool that you've got food-producing natives in your garden. Do you get lots of native birds as a result?

  2. We produced some flavoured salts and one of the most popular was lemon myrtle so people must be looking at using more and more native Australian flavours.

    I hope you get to try all of the berries from your plants!

  3. I am very interested in native foods, though I don't use them often. I am planning a garden at the moment, so perhaps I can plant some of those seeing as they grow well in Brisbane.

  4. @ Theresa: We get some native birds, but have not had many berries yet. I am hoping we will have more.

    @ Susan: If you are a Brisbane rate-payer (ie own the land), you can get two free plants per year from the Brisbane City Council, including several of the plants that I have shown above. The native ginger and lilly pilly were both from that scheme. They are tiny tube stock, about 20cm high, but these have both grown to their current height in 18 months in a semi-shaded spot.

    The details of the free plant scheme are on the Brisbane City Council website.