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Tjapukai’s Plants Reveal Ancient Secrets

March 27, 2015 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

unnamed (7)Every plant has a story at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park where descendants of the land’s traditional Djabugay people share the secrets of their rainforest environment.

Bush food guided walks are a new interactive cultural activity available at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park as part of its $12 million redevelopment.

Tjapukai performer Richard Bing, 27, whose Djabugay name is Djundjurru meaning short-nosed bandicoot, is one of the guides.

Djundjurru needed no training for the role having learnt about bush foods from his father and late grandmother while he was growing up in Kuranda.

“The nuts of the badil or cycad grow to the size of the golf ball in a bunch of 12 to 15 and when they ripen they are orange and look good to eat, but are poisonous unless they are processed the right way,” Djundjurru tells visitors.

“The ladies have to roast it first before they grate it and leave it in a dilly bag in running water, checking it every day to see that the poison is draining out.

“Then they grind it down to fine powder so they can make dough for bread. They do the same with the black bean and yellow walnut.

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“The Burdekin plum you can eat straight away once it has ripened or if it’s not ripe bury it underground for a few days to ripen it for eating.”

Visitors learn about the usefulness of plants such as the sandpaper fig tree which, as its name suggests, is useful for sanding wooden artefacts such as boomerangs and spears.

Its leaves and sap were used by the Aboriginal people as a treatment for ringworm and sunspots.

Other types of figs are useful to make string, ropes and weapons and their fruit is a tasty treat.

The Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park experience can now be upgraded to include the one-hour bush food guided walks for as little as $15 for children and $25 for adults.

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