Food and Culture

In the past, it is well recognised that the Indigenous people throughout Australia collected foods from their natural environment. Ingredients were available seasonally and because of our lack of modern technologies food could not keep and had to be eaten fresh.

(Left Photo) A catch of barramundi.

  Although there were tribal fights, families of Indigenous people worked with each other around a trade system. Not only their traditional bush foods were traded but their song lines were passed on to people that travelled through their country. A song line is about a survival route to take when traveling through country. It leads travellers to safe pathways to water holes, resting spots and bush tucker foods within a geographical location based on season.

(left photo) Roger boy with a goose.
Indigenous women took up the role of being the gathers for bush foods such as berries, nuts, fruit, grubs, insects and eggs. However, the Indigenous men were hunters for game food and used tools such as spears, axe, boomerangs, clubs to catch bush tucker such as kangaroo, emu, turtle, dugong. Amongst tribes, if located along the coastal waters they made rock traps and sometimes used natural bush tree stems to deoxidise the water to catch fish.
(Right photo) eatible bush fruit

When out bush if the bush tucker foods could not be eaten raw it was then cooked on the open camp fire coals. To me this is the best way to bring the natural flavours out of bush tucker foods. When feeding large family groups, an underground oven is used. This is a timely process but it is worth every bit because any meat or vegetable is cooked until it’s soft and tender.

(Left photo) Nanna Faye teaching the grannies how to make damper.
Most of our traditional foods and resources have become challenging since European settlement that Indigenous people have had no other option but to adapt and take up other cultural trends and influences, that hunting and gathering our traditional foods are practiced using today's modern technologies. Some have also adopted new ways of cooking their bush tucker foods to enjoy different flavourings.

(Right photo) 4x4wd and a dingi help hunters and gathers.
  Today I cook with the main influences of my Aboriginal and Javanese cultures using both modern and traditional methods. When cooking on the open fire we gather around and have a yarn (Chat) and enjoy the company of others. Mind you the food is much better enjoyed with great company. When comparing to with other cultures its like having a cuppa or an ice-tea!

(left photo) mud crab served on mangrove leaves after being cooked on the open fire (coals)
Cooking in the oven is often used in many of our households. Produce found in the local super markets help season and flavour traditional foods. Other staple foods are added to the dish such as potato, carrot and pumkin.

(Right photo) Roasting goose and vegetables in an oven.
  Spices, green vegetables and rice adds the Asian influences in our everyday dinners.

(Left photo) Curry prawns and steamed jasmin rice

In our culture it is a traditional custom to share what foods we can because some of us are limited with transportation or are too old to continue to hunt and gather traditional bush tucker foods. Therefore, it is important for us to pass down our hunting and gathering knowledges to our next generations. By doing this we are able to survive as an existing culture with the ongoing changes of modern society.

Traditional foods helps keep us healthy and strong!

(Right photo) My husband Jeff with
a barra he caught that fed 3 families.


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