Aboriginal Food - Finding the Water to Drink and Cook

> >The water in the dessert

Traditional aboriginal food is whatever nature is offering. To survive in the desert, Australian Aboriginals learnt various ways to find water and food.

Australia is a dry country and a large part of it is arid land. However it is teeming with life.

Amazingly, it has a huge number of plants, which are also food and shelter for animals. So there's the complete food chain.

Some of these plants make excellent, nutritious food for humans. Such as the macadamia nuts, the beautiful lemon myrtle or the wattleseed. 

You can use the flavoursome rainforest and outback native plants in your cooking. Have a look at the images on your right, you can buy them from Amazon and you can also get some cook books to learn how to use them.

Australian Aborigines were not growing their crops or vegetables, so they had to be extremely mobile. They moved around in search of daily fodder and water.

And as incredible as it may seem, there is water in the desert.

rock waterhole

A rock waterhole in the arid country

You just need to know how to find it and dig for it. Or know what plants shelter it. Such as the red malee, which has water in its trunk.

Rainfall does not happen very often, but when it does, Aborigines move quickly to get the water that remains trapped in waterholes, rocks, tree hollows or underground in the roots of trees.

water captured in a 'turkey nest'

A turkey nest, as the one above, is a waterhole that captures rain. The eucalyptus that surround it bring shade and keep water from evaporating for longer .

Indigenous people extract water stored in tree hollows by pushing some sort of pipes or straws into a hole and then sipping the precious liquid.

blue mallee

Blue malee

Tree roots also store water. A lot of eucalyptus have extremely long roots that extend many metres away from the trunk and relatively close to the surface. This helps them find underground water.

There wouldn't have been any aboriginal food without water. So people learnt to harvest water from the roots of various trees such as the red or blue mallee. They also learnt to collect and drain the dew drops from the plants.

When all the other sources were exhausted, Aborigines could even squeeze out the precious liquid from the "water holding" frogs. This is a frog species that has large amounts of water stored in its body. They can be found below the surface of claypan wetlands.


To learn more about indigenous Australians, check out the pages below by clicking the images.






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