Five Unforgettable Aboriginal Dinner Dates
From fish cooked over mangrove wood to a native superfood that you can sprinkle on a smoothie, here are five fascinating encounters with Aboriginal food.
Wattle it be for lunch?
ALTERNATIVE: Bundy’s Cultural Tours, Dampier Peninsula
Wattle flowers are more than just a pretty sight on the Dampier Peninsula. They tell the land’s custodians what’s for lunch. “When the wattle tree’s in flower it means the mullet are spawning,” says Bundy, an elder from the local Bardi nation. “And it means the golden trevally, mangrove jack, sweetlips and salmon are rich in oil. It’s the best time to catch and cook them.” While staying at Kooljaman wilderness camp in the Kimberley, jump on one of Bundy’s Cultural Tours to learn how to make a spear from a wattle branch, catch lunch and cook it over a mangrove and driftwood fire.
Try Australia’s native superfood
ALTERNATIVE: Whale Song Campground and Café, Dampier Peninsula
Gubinge, AKA Kakadu plum, has been hailed as Australia’s native superfood, thanks to its vitamin C and antioxidant content. And on the Dampier Peninsula, the locals are doing amazing things with it. At the Whale Song Campground and Café you can try a gelato-like gubinge crush, a gubinge wafer, which is like a crispy fruit strap, or gubinge powders, which you can add to smoothies, juices or salads. “They are our own creations,” says Whale Song co-owner Jacinta Monck. “There’s nothing on the planet like them.”
Go gourmet at Bindjareb Park
ALTERNATIVE: Bindjareb Park, Pinjarra
Bindjareb Park, an hour south of Perth, is a nature sanctuary offering cultural and bush tucker tours and doing some incredible things with Australian food too. Scrambled emu egg and crab omelette with pan-seared scallops and finger lime garnish was on the menu at a recent Six Seasons Dinner, celebrating the changing seasons of the Nyungar calendar(look out for future dinner dates) and while on a tour you can try specialties such as spicy nut kangaroo. Stock up on Bindjareb’s packaged herbs and spices, such as pepper berry and anise myrtle leaf, while you’re here.
Go Fish at Cape Cultural
ALTERNATIVE: Cape Cultural Tours, Margaret River
Meelup – ‘place of looking at the moon rising’ – is one of the stunning destinations you’ll visit on a Djiljit Coastal Fishing Experience with Cape Cultural Tours in the Margaret River region. Wadandi cultural custodian Josh ‘Koomal’ Whiteland will help you catch herring, salmon or bream from the beach, and smoke it using jarrah shavings. To accompany your catch you’ll have greens and fruit that you collect yourself. “We forage for saltbush, dune spinach, coastal figs and a few other things,” says Josh. “It makes a nice colourful salad.”
Shop for Aussie bush flavours at Maalinup
ALTERNATIVE: Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery, Swan Valley
The Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery, in the Swan Valley, added bushfoods to its art and artefacts repertoire about 20 years ago. “We started with a jar of quandong jam,” says co-owner Dale Tilbrook. Today, it sells its own range of herbs and spices, from pepper berry to native basil, as well everything from bush tucker sauces to oils infused with Australian flavours. “People seek us out because of our range, and because we offer advice as well,” Dale says. “For example, we advise people to pour boiling water over roasted wattleseed before using it. It starts to release the flavours and soften it.”
BONUS! Have a coffee with a kangaroo or two
ALTERNATIVE: BONUS! Lucky Bean Café, Cape Le Grand National Park
And finally, if you want a coffee with your view (or a view with your coffee), head for the Lucky Bean Café. This mobile coffee van can be found at Lucky Bay, in Cape Le Grand National Park, (not far from Esperance) selling Australian coffee (including a ‘kangacino’, named after the beach’s marsupials) and food including muffins with bush flavours such as lemon myrtle and macadamia. “Working at Lucky Bean is a holiday, not a job,” smiles co-owner Doc Reynolds. “We’re in this beautiful location, and the world comes to us.”