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Civil roads, underworld sharks, olympian neopeasants and crabmongers for China (Wadawurrung to Gadubanud Country)

There’s an ever present chill from saltwater wind that we’re becoming more hardy and alive to, so too the smell of old fish, which proliferates our hands and our clothes. We are in ever greater degree the great unwashed in an increasingly controlled human world, but life supports us in her abundance, provides shelter when it rains,

a wall to pitch a tent behind when ferocious winds rip through the night,

and calm, magical mornings to set out upon.

The roads have been endless providers too, of such things as road killed ringtail

and hare for Zero meat,

valuable rope to add to our kit as we neglected to bring a washing line,

and pretty good shoulders for cyclists.

We left St Leonards after two weeks of lockdown with a spring in our pedals, camped at Barwon Heads and rode on to Torquay, stopping for regular breaks.

At Torquay Magpie caught up with her office work in a sunny park,

while Blackwood cut some three-cornered garlic (Allium triquetrum) for the dinner pot.

and Blue Wren toasted some almonds on the municipal BBQ as Zero took a nap.

Each day we have been travelling in and out of Magpie, Blackwood and Blue Wren countries, and down here on the coast Willy Wagtail Country is ever present.

In the park in Torquay we happened across Monica, and after a far bit of yarning she invited us to mind her home (including her neighbourhood compost drop off) for the weekend while she was to be away tree planting.

In exchange we got to work repairing doors,

nurturing housemates,

and restoring her bike to roadworthy condition.

While in Torquay it felt good to help out at Monica’s while she was planting trees, but we also rested up, and explored the coastline.

While this town is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road we left Torquay in winter sunshine

and headed back inland. We wanted to volunteer at Common Ground Project, a ‘not-for-profit community farm that promotes food security by creating fair access to locally grown, healthy food.’

which is managed by these two bright sparks, Ivan and Greta.

We were offered beautiful food, shown a goodly camp spot, and had a chance to learn more about how their regenerative farming practices are feeding people in the community. The next day we rode towards Deans Marsh, in the traditional lands of the Gadubanud and Gulidjan peoples, thus leaving Wadawurrung Country for the first time since our first day’s ride back in early July.

The road offered up these wood blewits (Clitocybe nuda) before we arrived in Deans Marsh,

where some lovely locals Sian and Ads showed us a beautiful place to camp. Then in the rain we left to climb our biggest hill of the trip so far.

From Deans Marsh (elevation 155m above sea level) we pedalled for more or less 12km up hill, stopping for drink breaks,

encouragement cuddles,

and to take layers off.

Then we arrived at the top. Yippee!

The ten kilometres down hill was heaven. We soared and glided, laughed and whooooped out loud. Woody was learning what Zeph learnt on our first adventure – ‘a hill is just a hill.’ At the bottom was lovely Lorne, a place to pitch our tent and, as we discovered, another snap lockdown starting that night.

We headed for the nearby jetty, 2km from our home camp, and fished our way through the lockdown.

Zero had developed gunky eyes, which he nursed by staying quiet on the jetty, letting the sun treat him.

Blackwood pulled up an array of fish including this Australian salmon (Arripis trutta) which we enjoyed for dinner,

Blue Wren caught Port Jackson, Banjo and Draughtboard sharks (Cephaloscyllium laticeps) on his hand line and threw them all back,

and Magpie went after crabs (Ovalipes australiensis), which were delicious out of the billy.

A jetty engenders a special kind of community. It is a place for learning, marvelling and praising what the sea has to offer, and it is a place for connection and for song.

Public amenities are really the great civic remnant of a pre-corporatised world. These colonial structures are so often incorrect in today’s world where colonialism’s new face – paternalistic corporatism – is ashamed of yesterday and seeks utopia in a post-human tomorrow. We’re as happy to wild shit as find solace in public amenities. When you live outside it gets down to practicality – available ecology or architecture, digging tool or flush away your precious nutrients?

Another public amenity built in the pre-corporate colonial era is the Great Ocean Road, built by returned soldiers of the First World War. All the plaques along the road confuse whose Aboriginal country we’re riding on but are clear on the story of the mayor of Geelong’s project to have traumatised men return from France and construct a picturesque coastal road like in mother Europe. This road, emptied of tourist traffic, has been a cyclist’s joy.

Wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum L.) grows in abundance where the disturbance of settler road meets oldtimer coastline. This feral, uncorporatised food is a prize to neopeasants and gallantly sings into the trauma of our shared ancestries.

As are these turkey tails (Trametes versicolor). Both weedy brassica and bracket fungus are wild medicines,

and they belong to a very different medical philosophy than corporate health, which is lead foremost by monetisation and control. Charles Eisenstein details this in his latest essay where he writes: “When herbicide-resistant weeds appear, the solution is a new herbicide. When immigrants cross the border, we build a wall. When a school shooter gets into a locked school building, we fortify it further. When germs develop resistance to antibiotics, we develop new and stronger ones. When masks fail to stop the spread of covid, we wear two. When our taboos fail to keep evil at bay, we redouble them. The controlling mind foresees a paradise in which every action and every object is monitored, labeled, and controlled. There will be no room for any bad thing to exist. Nothing and no one will be out of place. Every action will be authorized. Everyone will be safe.” As Charles goes on to argue, the pursuit for ever greater control generates ever greater divisions and social illness.

Human wellbeing is wrapped up in connection to people and place, regularly diving into other worlds for not just food but insight,

to behold our own wildness as contiguous with the living of the world, be predator and prey in the same instance,

to find delight and challenge in the fierce determination of kin,

to experience the full force of the world and only retreat from it for short periods of recuperation,

and to pull on the primal materiality of ancestors.

We rolled into Apollo Bay in Gadubanud (Katubanut) Mother Country and dried out the tent.

Rainbows keep rolling in on this saltwater winter country,

as do the facilities to cook a public meal.

We soon found a hidden coastal camp site protected from wind, tides and rain. A place to call home for a while,

interact with the locals (Arctocephalus pusillus),

fish up some more shark (to throw back),

accept gifts (Seriolella brama) from fellow fishers (thanks Lonnie!),

cook up both gifts from sea and field,

and listen to local crabmongers talk about the elite markets in China for these Tasmanian giants (Pseudocarcinus gigas).

We are common students on this bicycle pilgrimage. All three of us human folk learning to cook in a windy kitchen without walls,

fishing up species we’ve never before encountered (Heterodontus portusjacksoni),

beholding the advance of more-than-human greatness (due to fewer boats on the ocean),

while observing the encroachment of dehumanising politics in subtle and not so subtle forms.

This pilgrimage begs for breathing with the wind, the gales, the gusts, as windbags ourselves. It begs for not holding our breath in the anxieties of corporate-apnea. It begs for not using scientific nomenclature, roads or public toilets without understanding the colonisations of these useful but unnecessary things. It begs for us to find gratitude in every food we eat that comes loaded in story. It begs for us to share our learnings and extend our studenthood with kinfolk we come across on the road like Sian and baby Kai,

and with you, Dear Reader. Thanks for riding along with us. We’ve travelled 177kms since St Leonards and while setting out in winter in a pandemic might have seemed to some a crazy-arse thing to do, we’ve really enjoyed the cold and the reduced noise along the coastal roads.

With much love, Artist as Family

The last drenched leg (of our mostly pedal-fuelled book tour – Genoa to Daylesford)

At Genoa, we said goodbye to Maya and James and rode 50 kms to Cann River, where we got a complete soaking.

The next day we rode 40 kms to Bellbird, where we found a free camp to dry out,

before riding on towards Orbost, coming across a novel road sign mirage, conjuring the future.

At about this time (actually, it went to print on Survival Day) Patrick had his first commentary piece published in a major newspaper. Unsurprisingly, the well-shared SMH article was about bicycles and the lack of access they are given on roads and with public transport hook-ups in NSW.

But, alas, we were finding the same thing in Victoria, at least in regard to suitable shoulders to ride on. We got off the near-death A1 Princes Highway and quietly meandered down to Cape Conran, where for a rare moment or two we acknowledged the ‘dog on a lead’ directive, until the local hounds told us otherwise.

We rode the flat dairy floodplain lands of the Gunaikurnai people to Marlo, and riding on we were suddenly impressed with the peasant architecture along the lower reaches of the Snowy River.

After another wet night in Orbost we stopped in at the Nowa Nowa Caravan Park to rest with friends Yael and Matt, who strum more than an interesting tune or two.

We cooked communally and played with their kids Esse, Dante and the great stick gatherer Akira.

We made slingshots,

and went fishing,

learned to ride bikes,

and fall off them,

we played on sharp things,

and performed many more timely lessons not taught in school before we got onto another quiet C road to Bairnsdale, treated to a generous shoulder almost the whole way. What relief!

In Bairnsdale we once more dried out our wet gear,

and waited for the evening train to Melbourne as our Gippsland book event never materialised. We hopped on a train, were treated to a night’s stay with Matt’s kind mum Linda in the city, and caught another train to Woodend, from where we began our last 40 kms.

In Lyonville, where our book begins, Woody took his last roadside wee for a while.

We pedalled to Bullarto, just shy of our town Daylesford, and fell into the arms of Zeph and Mel, who were awaiting our return.

Woody’s and Zeph’s reunion was a pleasure to behold,

and Mel cooked us a beautiful dinner of her homemade gnocchi.

We all bunkered down for the night, AaF excitedly inhabiting Zeph’s room at Mel’s like a slumber party. Zeph’s first day of Year 8 saw to an early start the next day, and as we pedalled into Daylesford we were greeted by this handsome young guy, who’s full creaturely life was cut short by the imperatives of human-centric industry — AKA fast mobility.

After a quick call to our our special vegetarian mate Pete, he arrived to help us transport the largest roadkill animal we’ve ever processed, and he kindly offered his place to do the butchering.

Thankful of not becoming roadkill ourselves during our 90 day, 20 event book tour, we honoured this car-killed beast, spending our first day home preparing his interrupted life into little packages of energy that will be part of our homecoming fuel to fire back up our household economy.

A big meaty Thank You! to everyone we met and/or stayed with on the road during our book tour, to everyone who joins us on social media and to those of you who have contacted us to let you know you’ve read our book and of the actions of positive change you’ve implemented. Keep them coming.

Farewell for now. We look forward to your company on the webs next time.

Love, AaF xx

Our last leg north: Daintree Village to the Aboriginal community of Hope Vale (via the dreaded Bloomfield Track)

We left Daintree Village rested and ready for the ominous Bloomfield Track. We had met so many lovely folk in the village and a crowd gathered to cheer us off. But despite this warmth, racism was also around us; sometimes blatant, sometimes inverted or blind. In the face of this, local elder Linda Burchill, whose ancestral country we camped on, showed us her resilience, love and (as mentioned in the previous post) a handful of her haul of freshwater mussels.

On the way to Cape Tribulation, just before we crossed the Daintree River, we stopped to munch on cotton tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus) flowers, which are great eating and are out and about throughout the year. The internal bark of the tree was traditionally made into a poultice to dress wounds and used as a cure for ulcers.

Just over the road from this medicinal bush tucker is the opposite story. Conventional western farming using harmful chemicals to grow a plant that is not necessary in our diets, costs money and is harmful to people.

Nufarm, a member of the powerful chemical agriculture and GMO lobby group CropLife Australia (along with Dow, Monsanto, Bayer and co), produce the chemical drum on the right. Glyphosate is the active constituent in many herbicides, most notably Roundup, and used extensively by conventional farmers, conventional gardeners and conventional councils. It permeates western food and environments and is linked to gut flora collapse and the myriad inflammatory diseases that stem from it. Every year more evidence stacks up against this chemical, but so far Australia’s regulatory bodies are asleep at the wheel.

We crossed the Daintree by ferry,

and rode into cooler forest country, finally leaving behind the sugarcane monocultures that had begun in Lawrence in NSW many months earlier. We sensed relief.

We camped the night under this Blue Quandong tree, which provided food and shelter for us and some delightful others.

We rode quietly straining to eye a cassowary, only spotting orange-footed scrub fowls (Megapodius reinwardt),

and what we suspected were cassowary droppings. You can see how they make excellent forest regenerators, lightly spreading seed and manure like best-practice forest gardeners.

In a post-oil world these remote bitumen roads could gradually become road-bergs, break up and disintergrate into a geological layer that people are calling the Anthropocene. After this era it will be the seeds and manure, mushrooms and leaf litter that will transform the polluted world’s worlds as we know them, a toxic layer will be embedded representing this age of intransigence. Obama and his neo-con arms dealers, Abbott and his ISIS marriage of violence and we and our way of life that determines such violence will be mere composted remnants of a stupid age of fossil-fuel damage, there will be nothing left of the strangler fig’s host.

Fan palms (Livistona spp.) may well be eaten again, but only in a survivalist manner. When the cabbage or terminal bud is removed for food the palm dies.

By the time we began the Bloomfield track the sun was high in the sky and the 4WDs were loaded up with Middle-Eastern resources – one planet fuelled by one continuous oil war since Iraq 1914.

We were pretty chipper with ourselves getting to Emmagen Creek so spritely. So far so good, perhaps this track will be a breaze afterall. We had a swim and carried on.

Then the real work began. Photographs always flatten the picture plane making this steep incline look horizontal. Believe us, it wasn’t. Meg’s bike with Woody on it weighs 70 kgs and Patrick had to push his bike up the hill and then return to push Meg’s. Killer hard times!

We went into a time warp on that track as we heaved and huffed up and down the Owen and then the Donovan ranges. We have never perspired to the degree that we did and were extremely grateful for the intermittent shade across the track.

You might think it ridiculous that we were spruiking a bicycle bumbag political message on a road so remote, but the world’s most powerful and damaging were also travelling these roads.

On our first and only night on the Bloomfield Track we collapsed into this little dusty hidey hole,

and woke early the next day to beat the heat.

We no longer had fresh muscles or the stamina that had propelled us the previous day and we struggled with the heat, dust, motorised encounters and general discomfort.

But we made it! And where the road came down to meet the Bloomfield River we stopped and had our picture taken by friendly 4WD anthropocenes.

We soon arrived in Wujal Wujal at low tide, observed the fire reduction burns, rode the spanking new bridge over the Bloomfield River,

and headed to the Bana Yirriji Art and Cultural Centre where we met community elder, Sharon Walker, who showed us custard apples (Annona reticulate) that had naturalised near the river. Wow, what a delightful free food. Thanks Sharon!

We wandered up to the Bloomfield Falls,

and spent the afternoon cooking,


and swimming.

We stayed the night in Wujal Wujal, talking with local people about the range of public food in the town, including these star apples (Chrysophyllum cainito).

The purple latex glue of the fruit is to be avoided and can bond your lips together, but the white of the fruit is not only edible, it’s delicious.

The next day we followed the Bloomfield River north out of town where we spotted this little fellow taking in a spot of sun.

A little later in Ayton we met a loan bush-poet wanderer aptly called Bushy who encouraged us to try on his handcrafted crocodile vest. Good one Bushy!

But there was not much more smiling that afternoon. Hot and exhausted we hobbled into The Lion’s Den Hotel, a pub that doubles as a camping ground. The Bloomfield had completely ruined us.

It was at The Lion’s Den that we met Julie Frame, who was intrigued by our story and invited us to stay with her family in Cooktown. Thanks Julie, you anticipated we needed somewhere to rest for a while.

Wow! We rode our bikes from Daylesford to Cooktown along a very curly, zigzagging path and landed in a similarly sized and friendly town where we quickly got to work to catch some dinner gifts to take to the Frame’s.

What good fortune – two magnificent Spanish Mackerels (Scomberomorini) to share with this delightful family:

Meet Alistair, Amber, Savannah, Julie and Tess, the family pooch. We spent three nights with the Frame tribe, perched high up above Cooktown looking north,

The girls spoiled Woody with endless play, and Amber taught us all about the soap tree (Alphitonia excels) they had growing in their garden,

and how to crush up the leaves with a little water to create an instant bush shampoo.

Savannah taught us that the orange part of the broad-leaved native cherry (Exocarpos latifolius) is edible when it turns red. This plant is a sister species to our native cherry back home, Exocarpos cupressiformis, also known as cherry ballart.

We spent a few hours in the Cooktown Botanical Garden, which held a great collection of local bush foods, including Native Rosella (Hibiscus heterophyllus), otherwise known in the local Guugu Yimithirr langauge as Ya-bu,

and the Great Morinda or cheese fruit (Morinda citrifolia), known in the local language as Wuulabi or Dugunyja, which can be juiced and is supposed to be a cure for all things from cancer to AIDS. It remains a medicine food for Indigenous Australians.

While walking through the streets of Cooktown we came across our first ripe mango (Mangifera indica) of the trip. This little wind-fallen early bolter was a sweet jewel to our lips. We have been salivating in anticipation of mango season, which is still several weeks away.

While we stayed in Cooktown we went to the local markets and met this super-permie couple, Peter and Saeng,

who make a wicked green tea brew that includes pandanus, mulberry leaf, lime, ginger, tumeric and soursop leaf. We also met numerous other gardeners, permies and farmers all working towards a better food future in the region. When we left Cooktown on our truly last northern leg to Hope Vale, we stayed a night with farmer Cass and her pet cookatoo, Esme.

Cyclone Ita had ripped through the farm only five months earlier and we got to work helping clean up the damaged teak platation, from which Cass and her partner Rick had been able to salvage and mill a considerable amount.

The next day we rode on to Hope Vale, stopping off at Endeavour Falls for a splash,

and where we found the matchbox bean (Entada phasceoloides) known locally by the Guugu Yimithirr people as Yulnga, which was fruiting down by the water. The bark was traditionally used as a wound wash and a hairwash for lice and skin diseases. The seeds are toxic, but made edible through extensive preparation – roasting, pounding, leaching and baking.

On the way back from the falls we found the health giving naturalised herb, Gota Kola (Centella asiatica). We each ate four leaves for good measure.

The sun fried us savagely as we came into Hope Vale. Have we finally got to our most northern point on this incredible adventure? It seems fitting that Hope Vale, one of a number of Cape York Aboriginal Communities, is the place we stay, reflect, learn, commune and rest before we begin to head south.

We had earlier met Duncan Murray from the Cape York Institute and he arranged for us to meet several people in Hope Vale including senior elder on council Tim McGreen and Tim’s wife Elaine McGreen, a nurse and community elder.

Tim and Elaine invited us to stay in their home for a week where Woody immediately discovered Nonda Plums (Parinari nonda),

and we traded hunting knowledges with Tim and Elaine’s grandchildren and their community friends.

Tim and Elaine have been introducing us to many people in the community and we are learning much about traditional food and medicine here as well as new initiatives for developing community food resilience, which we will share with you in our next post.

Wherever you are, we hope that there’s plenty of medicine in your food and resilience in your community.

Much free food love from Artist as Family.

Strange fruits, bush tucker, diverse cultures and generally composting ‘Team Australia’ (from Airlie Beach to Townsville)

On leaving Airlie Beach we discovered this woody vine and stopped to investigate.

Despite all our best efforts we haven’t been able to work out what plant produces such a fruit and whether it is at all edible. Perhaps you can help dear reader? [UPDATE: Thanks Amanda Ramsay for identifying this fruit as the creeping or climbing fig (Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang). Apparently in Taiwan the fruit is dried for eating and the seeds help form a jelly.] 

We left our mystery fruit, collected some roadside citrus and Black Sapote (Diospyros nigra),

raced a cane train engine back to the Bruce Highway (thanks for the peg Tim Burder!),

and discovered our first cocky apple (Planchonia careya), a traditional bush food of the north.

It was a long day in the saddle riding 80 kms to windy-as-hell Bowen, where we took an obligatory peg under the big mango (note the edible, fruit-loving  green ant, which we still have to try).

Bowen is a kind of birthplace for the mango industry in Australia, dating back to the 1880s when the Kensington variety was first grown for commerical purposes. Now mangoes have naturalised and are considered weeds by landcare groups where they grow without monetary intention. Sadly we’re too late (or is it too early?) for mangoes freely foraged or commercially grown.

We also discovered bananas that have naturalised in this region,

and another weed of great significance for a country arriving at peak affluence, coconuts!

We have so enjoyed this nut, which is so freely available everywhere along the coast. We have developed a fast technique to remove the husk (note the hatchet) and to drill through the eyes (note the three-pronged fishing spear head) to extract the nutritious milk. Every tool we carry has to have multiple uses.

Bowen was a haven for new species we hadn’t previously documented. We came across another strange fruit, which despite all our reference books and online searching we also haven’t been able to identify.

We discovered bush passionfruit (Passiflora foetida),

Burdekin plums (Pleigynium timorense),

and the (apparently) good eating brush turkey (Alectura lathami),

all at Horseshoe Bay. This little place was something quite special.

On the beach we noted the forageable and medicinal but nonetheless potentially poisonous goats foot (Ipomoea pes-caprae). Traditionally, the fleshy part of the taproot was removed, washed and then steamed over coals wrapped in pandanus or some like leaves, making the root edible.

Bowen is also a town of citrus at this time of year and we knocked on several doors to ask if we could harvest a little. While there is still little value given to fruit grown on trees in front and backyards, it is easy pickings to travel Australia and everyday find something good to eat.

Bowen is also a town of capsicum and tomato monocultures,

and like all conventionally grown fruit, petrochemical pesticides are absolutely necessary, and significant waste goes with the territory. This is one season’s weed matting and irrigation pipe ready for the tip.

We left Bowen spotting Mexican prickly poppies (Argemone mexicana), a traditional medicine plant of Sonora in Mexico, used to treat severe headaches and constipation. The oil the plant produces (katkar oil) can be toxic and has been known to cause epidemic dropsy in humans when other edible oils (especially mustard seed oil) have been adulterated by it. Notably severe headaches and loose bowels are just some of the symptoms produced by poisoning.

While the dry tropics at this time of year have been conducive to living outdoors, the temperature increases as we head north make for thirsty cycling.

We rode a short leg to Gumlu where we paid $10 to camp the night and take a warm shower,

at a caravan park that’s seen better days,

and is now in transition to an energy descent scenario.

Woody found a store of corn kept for the animals, helped himself and also picked up some unwanted guests.

It was at Gumlu Caravan Park that we first tasted Ber fruit (Ziziphus mauritiana), also known as Chinee Apple, Jujube, Indian plum and Masau. Look how appley they look.

It is a rather dry fruit, not overly sweet but much richer in Vitamin C than all types of citrus. As Woody will tell you the orange fruit indicates they’re ready to eat.

We harvested a bunch for the road,

set out to seek more species but for a while only found ‘nature’ just south of Ayr,

crossed a rather big bridge,

and set up home in a park south of the town.

It was in Ayr we first came across candle nut (Aleurites moluccana), which gets its common name from its traditional use as a light source. This very oily nut can be burnt as a candle.

We were also introduced to the beach cherry (Eugenia reinwardtiana), otherwise known as the Ceder Bay cherry.

This was a delicious, moist, sweet find and we relished the few fruit we consumed.

On the way out of Ayr we discovered our third mystery fruit for this 300 km leg.

We asked the owners of the property we found it on, but they had no idea. Even though our main research focuses on naturalised, uncultivated food sources, anything edible, medicinal or useful is of interest, especially those species that yield much food,

and can lead us away from sickness.

We rode to a little sugar cane town called Giru, and asked a local man whether we could harvest his Kumquats. He happily obliged.

Beside this abundant tree was a Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus). We tapped on the larger fruits to see whether they were hollow and ready to eat, but we were too early in the season for them.

We stopped at the local pub for an afternoon ale and got the lowdown on free camping in Giru. As we pulled up and we adults began to set up, Woody noticed little red fruits at our feet.

Naturalised tomatoes. Yum!

We threw them through a pasta with locally gardened garlic and olive oil before rumbles in the tent.

With the new day we had a rather testing ride into Townsville with gusty side winds and disappearing shoulders,

arriving fairly exhuasted to stay with Becc, a local bicycle advocate and warm showers host.

Becc took us down to The Strand for a cultural parade that had little to do with ‘Team Australia’ and all to do with celebrating diversity,

and cooked us a beautiful dinner which we enjoyed with other lovely local cycle tourists. We’ll stay a little while in Townsville and rest up to ready ourselves for our next leg of discovery.

Autonomous foods of Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island)

One rule he [Oodgeroo’s father] told us we must strictly obey. When we went hunting, we must understand that our weapons were to be used only for the gathering of food. We must never use them for the sake of killing. This is in fact one of the strictest laws of the Aborigine, and no excuse is accepted for abusing it. –– Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Minjerribah elder)

We have had a wonderful week and more on Minjerribah, sampling Quandamooka bush tucker and being the biological (not chemical) controls of more newly naturalised autonomous foods (agricultural weeds, etc.), while hiding out in the bush.

It is early winter on the island and at this time of year, like home in cold highlands Victoria, chickweed (Stellaria media) commonly appears, packed with vitamin C at a time when it is most needed. Clover is also pictured below and is also edible in salads; the flowers used for tea.

And while chickweed is just appearing we foraged the last of the season’s apple guavas (Psidium guajava),

and midjim (Austromyrtus dulcis) berries.

Even though none of the delicious red sweet-salty fruits of pigface (Carpobrotus glaucescens) were about, some flowers were present,

and biting the base of these flowers, where the fruits will later form, can offer some small delight.

Like home, black nightshade (Solanum nigram) berries enjoy the cooler weather, a favourite of Woody’s on the island.

And we tried beach flax lily (Dianella congesta) berries and weren’t unimpressed, even though the Quandamooka people apparently didn’t eat this food.

We cooked fish with Indigenous spinach (Tetragonia tetragoniodes),

and succulent purslane (Portulaca oleracea), otherwise known as pigweed.

And we tried chewing the ripe fruits of Pandanus (P. tectorius),

at first raw, which irritated our throats, then roasted on coals, with wave-washed-in pilchards (Sardinops neopilchardus).

We sucked the sweetness out of the pandanus kernels after they were roasted for about 15 minutes. Although a modest pleasure, we think there must be a better technique to eating this food and getting more from it. If anyone has any suggestions please let us know.

Fish we speared included grey mowrang (Nemadactylus douglasii) and a number of sand whiting (Sillago ciliata),

and fish we caught by rod and line also included sand whiting and a new one for us, swallowtail dart (Trachinotus coppingeri). A surprising delicacy, easy to catch, tasting even better than the whiting, which is an excellent eating fish as well.

We met Megan from Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation and she generously passed on the knowledge required for eugarie or pipi (Plebidonax deltoides) gathering and cooking. We walked for a few kilometres down Main Beach with our dandelion root foraging tool, setting off an hour before low tide. Then suddenly,

small mounds began appearing,

and lo and behold, eugaries!

We harvested enough for lunch and some for the evening’s fishing.

Megan told us the best way to cook them was straight on the coals of a small campfire. This really was a Minjerribah treat.

Other autonomous edibles we foraged on the island included common sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus),

wandering jew (Commelina diffusa),

and cobbler’s peg (Bidens pilosa), otherwise known as farmer’s friend. Eating the leaves raw provides a good source of calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin C, chlorophyll and magnesium.

We’ll be sad to leave this beautiful island, but we’ll take with us many delightful experiences.