Big Red and Li’le Kanga.
Big Red (aka jetsetvagabond) and Li’le Kanga (aka daughter Sass) recently took their mob up country on a bush tucker walkabout.
Actually, it was more like a hike along the boardwalk with the family and a packed lunch, but it occurred during one of the best summers Tassie has had in ages and it was in one of the world’s most beautiful parks.
Brunyfire temporarily decamped from her island paradise this summer to spend time with the family from Brazil in Cradle Mountain. Situated in Tasmania’s north, Cradle Mountain is part of Tasmania’s World Heritage area, covering an area of 124 942 hectares, and is characterised by its rugged, glaciated landscape of mountain peaks….……… lakes, ……..quartz beaches,
……….beech forests ………….and button grass plains.The area contains ancient plants which reveal their Gondwanan origins, including the long-lived and endemic conifers (such as King Billy, Pencil, and Celery Top pine), and other plants with Gondwanan links such as the deciduous beeches, the Myrtle (Nothofagus cunninghamii) and the Fagus beech or Nothofagus gunnii. The relevance of this sturdy survivor of Gondwanan distribution, is that as a descendant of the super-continent that originally landlocked us with South America – it is an apt symbol of our current Brazilian family connections and our love of fire and food. As for the bush tucker, (check out the Leatherwood article for more Tas bush tucker info) it was all around us if only we could see it – but despite our ignorance, we did come across a few that would have made up a good feed.
For a fruity starter, the berries of the Pink Mountain Berry are edible and have a sweet taste and the Manuka, or Tea Tree shrub was used by Captain Cook to make tea – a traditional Aboriginal brew which was also used medicinally.The flowers of this bush were covered in indigenous bees – those of the Manuka honey fame.
However, it was the connection with fire, as employed by the original inhabitants of Cradle Mountain and its surroundings, that has made the biggest impact on the environment. ‘Fire-stick farming’ enabled the Aborigines to increase the area over which they could find food, and the button grass plains in the park are a legacy of their extensive use of fire in burning off areas to clear pathways through the rugged terrain and to aid hunting. This changed the original fire-sensitive rainforests of the Nothofagus, into scrub and eventually to heath and sedgeland, but since the end of burning in these cleared areas the rainforest is reclaiming its habitat.…..and it was the first time I’d seen this nubby little plant in full flower…………. The benefits of the practice of ‘fire-stick farming’ was that it attracted animals to the tender shoots of new vegetation from the fertile ashes for easier hunting…….……..as inspired by the painting above by Hobart artist, Richard Wastell. The hard water fern was painted in 2006 – and very much reflects the optimism of re-growth.
Nowadays, wallaby (or Lenah) is once again becoming a popular dish – this time for the gourmet table. Char Grilled Wallaby, at the Cradle Mountain Chateau’s Red Gum restaurant, was a fitting end to our Cradle Mountain sojourn.Followed by Cradle Mountain Baklava with Elderflower Jelly, Poached Pear and Lemon Creme Fraiche!!