Banner and cover image: 2022 National NAIDOC logo
This week (3rd July - 10th July) is NAIDOC Week, a national celebration paying tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the value that their cultures add to Australia. NAIDOC stands for National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee and began as a week-long event in 1975. It is a week of celebrating the achievements of First Nations peoples and facilitating dialogue with our Indigenous communities to create change. The theme for 2022 NAIDOC Week is Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!, a message that encourages enacting genuine change instead of offering empty words and promises. In honour of NAIDOC week, we’d like to celebrate the Boonwurrung people, the Indigenous community whose traditional lands span across south-east Victoria and include the Mornington Peninsula.
The Boonwurrung People
The Boonwurrung people are part of the Kulin nation, a collective of five Indigenous language groups who traditionally lived in the Port Phillip area of Victoria. The Boonwurrung people included six clans who engaged in trading, marriage and other mutual interests together. European settlers reached Dromana in 1802, marking the first encounter between the Europeans and Indigenous peoples in Victoria. The encounter ended in conflict with two Boonwurrung people being wounded or killed. Today, the Mornington Peninsula is still home to many Boonwurrung people whose sacred land and cultural interests are represented by the Boonwurrung Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.
Boonwurrung Bush Food
For over 40,000 years the Boonwurrung people lived sustainably off the land, with great reverence and respect for the natural environment. The Boonwurrung people ate the seasonal plants and animals, using tools made from stone and wood to catch their food. They travelled to hunt kangaroo, possum, emu, birds, fish, yabbies, eels and shellfish when they were seasonally available. Like many Indigenous communities, native edible plants were an important part of the diet of the Boonwurrung people. Some of the plants that the Boonwurrung people relied on include the pale flax lily, the coastal wattle and the coast beard-heath. Both the seeds and fruit of the plants were consumed to get the most nutrition from the plants they gathered.
A key part of the Boonwurrung diet were yams, a type of tuber which is similar to sweet potato with a more starchy texture and earthy taste. The yam daisy is a tuber-producing plant that was harvested by women of the Kulin nation using digging sticks. Known as “murnong” by Indigenous Australians, yam daisies are one of the native plants that make up the Australian Bush Food Garden at Green Olive at Red Hill as they are very versatile in their culinary uses. The roots can be eaten cooked or raw and are delicious in salads, desserts or by themselves. The plant has flowers that look like a dandelion and when they bloom in August, that’s when you know they roots are ready to be harvested. We are so glad to be able to grow this important bush food which was nearly made extinct by the grazing livestock of the European settlers. You can read more about yam daisies in our blog post.
Paying respect to our local Indigenous communities is not something that should be delegated to just a week of the year; we need to continually acknowledge the culture, knowledge and history of the people who have owned the land for tens of thousands of years. Green Olive at Red Hill is committed to recognising the ancient knowledge of the Boonwurrung people and sharing the beauty of the native bush food that grows on their land.
Photo credit: Westgate Biodiversity