Koori coast

Culture camps

At a Djuwin Women's Lore Council Culture Camp, Trisha Ellis passes on some of her knowledge.



This here is a burrawang, most of you know what women did with the burrawang, but for those of you who don’t I’ll tell you. A lot of old people, the Aboriginal people around here, because we used to have such a beautiful climate, or used to back then, they used to just stick two pieces of wood in the ground with a fork on top of them, piece of wood across, and then put sheets of bark down on one side, put on the ground paperbark or soft grasses – that’s what they slept on, covered themselves over with a couple of kangaroo skin cloaks and that’s heaven.

That was it, that was all you needed, eh. Or a fire, you could have a fire. The bush provides all the wood for you to have a fire, it even gives you the dead wood to have a fire with. Some people actually used to plait these together, you’ve seen how they do that, they plait them together and they would also put them over it too to reinforce the bark or if they wanted a bit of a screen on the other side if someone was sick. The beauty of our lean-to’s is you could put the door wherever you wanted. If the wind was coming from that way you could shift your door around this way. The other side of this is that it also has a great big seed-pod that comes out, that’s the female, she’s actually having babies when she does the seed pod. That comes out and when it expands it cracks and all the nuts fall out. The Aboriginal women collected them and they are totally, utterly, and one hundred percent highly toxic. You cannot eat them unless you know how to leech the toxins out. What the Aboriginal women did was they gathered them up and put them into dilly bags then left them in running water for about five days and that leeched the toxins out. Or, they buried them under the ground and the mould that got in under the ground where it was moist would eat through and take the toxins out. Then the nuts were roasted and then pounded into flour and that’s what all our dampers were made from all around Australia – but you had to know how to do it. (…) This is called the Macrozamia something… communis, thank you Levi - our budding young botanist over here.