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Published August 15th 2016
Taste & discover the secrets of bush tucker
Kingfisher Bay Resort is an ecotourism resort on the World Heritage listed Fraser Island. It has been designed to provide visitors with a nature-based tourism experience while creating minimal impact on the environment. The way it does this is by blending harmoniously with the environment and by offering a range of environmentally friendly tourism activities, including nature walks and ranger presentations such as the Bush Tucker Walk.
Our guide for the Bush Tucker Walk was Ranger Jay, a descendent of the local Butchulla Aboriginal people. As our group was lead around the resort, Ranger Jay showed us a variety of bush tucker trees, plants and shrubs that are native to this area. They include common plants such as the humble Paper Bark Tree, Pandanus palm and Lemon-scented Tea Tree, as well as more exotic plants such as the Blue Quandong, Blue Tongue, native Ginger, Blueberry Ash, Wallum Banksia and the Midgen Berry bush.
It is interesting to learn that many of these plants have various uses, for food, for medicinal purposes and for use as tools . For example, did you know you can use the bark from the Paper Bark tree just like a band-aid? The medicinal qualities of the bark can help to clean wounds if they are wrapped in it.
The innocent looking small blue berry of the Blueberry Ash tree has a bitter tang and dries out your mouth but is also very high in Vitamin C
Ranger Jay explains how certain berries can be crushed to use as a fruit paste or jam or to make a type of damper bread. Leaves of plants such as Lemon Myrtle and Lemon-scented Tea Tree are used to make herbal teas, but also have medicinal uses for complaints such as headaches and mosquito bites.
We learn that native honey has a deep red colour and a bitter sweet taste. While it is often used in bush tucker, it can also be used for medicinal purposes and, surprisingly, was also used by Aboriginal people when making tools or weapons because it has qualities similar to resin when it hardens.
While palm leaves are often used for making baskets and even water containers, I was surprised to learn that the sheaf of the palm can be used as a natural cast for broken bones.
Other leaves such as those of the Native Ginger are used to wrap meat in when cooking. The bark from the Paper Bark tree is also used in this way as it will help the meat retain its moisture when cooking.
There is so much to learn from Ranger Jay and as we stopped at each new plant, we are given leaves or berries to smell, touch and taste wherever possible.
The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and finishes at the picturesque Kingfisher Bay Jetty with views out across the Great Sandy Strait. Jay explains that all native food, including fish, turtles, sting rays and dugongs are considered "bush tucker" to Aboriginal people.
The tour ends here.....but you can always learn more
With over 50 000 years of living and thriving in Australia, indigenous people have a wealth of knowledge about how native plants can be grown and used for food and medicine. The guided Bush Tucker Walk was an interesting, relaxed and enjoyable introduction to the topic which will whet your appetite in terms of both tasting the food and wanting to learn more.
Happily, the resort caters to both of these circumstances. For those interested in further information and how these plants are used in the resort restaurant, you can book in for the Bush Tucker Talk and Taste where the resort chef will give you insights and taste testing of these bush tucker ingredients. Alternatively, why not book in for dinner at Seabelle Restaurant in the Kingfisher Bay Resort where the menu has been designed to blend seasonal local produce, fresh seafood and Australian bush tucker.
Kingfisher Bay Resort is located on Fraser Island, a 45-minute ferry trip from River Heads. For information about staying at the resort click here.