Tag Archives: Food

A Kangaroo Tale

Text: Garry Benson
Photos: © Garry Benson 2008
Editor: Tracey Benson

It was during the video shoot for ‘Painting the Song’,  a documentary on the Kaltjiti (Pitjantjatjara) Artists of the Sand Dune Country in 2008, at Fregon, APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands in Central Australia, that I first tasted Kangaroo tails.

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

I’ve worked on the Ara Irititja database since 1989, but this shoot was different – a major exhibition of work of these artists was due to open in Adelaide and they needed a documentary and book. My work as cinematographer and photojournalist got me the gig – it helped that I have been initiated into some Watiku (men only) and Tjilpi (elders) Tjurkupa (dreamings).

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

You may have heard of kangaroo tail stew, but chances are you have never eaten it. It’s a shame, as it is the most delectable part of the animal.

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

The only places I have seen it sold have been in the Northern Territory and South Australia, in both cases near Aboriginal communities – where people have very well-informed preferences when it comes to kangaroo cuts (and buy tails with the skin on so that they can better cook them in the coals of a fire).

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

Rather than hunt for the kangaroos, the Anangu of Central Australia prefer frozen kangaroo tails, skin and all. These shots were taken during the video shoot for ‘Painting the Song’, a documentary on the Kaltjiti (Pitjantjatjara) Artists of the Sand Dune Country in 2008.

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008


© Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

A kangaroo is in effect pentapedal (five-legged), using the tail like a limb while walking and a counterbalance while running – it is no meagre appendage. The alternative to buying a kangaroo tail is of course to go out and get one from a kangaroo yourself.

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

But you are not allowed. If you own land you can probably get a permit to shoot some as a culling exercise and ‘pest control’, but these cannot be eaten and must be tagged and left to rot in the field. If you accidentally hit one with your car (as I did recently), you are not allowed to later cut the tail off and be ‘in possession of it’ – something that applies to all native fauna.

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

And you cannot (except for some wallabies in Tasmania) hunt one.

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

Alongside the government supported shooting of some one and a half million kangaroos a year, the world’s largest terrestrial wildlife harvest, it is illegal to take one for your own pot.

 © Garry Benson 2008
© Garry Benson 2008

But frozen kangaroo tails continue to be a major delicacy for the Anangu of the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands in Central Australia. I must admit I’d prefer a nice grass-fed Angus steak with all the trimmings – hard to find 500kms from *The Alice…

*Alice Springs


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Yesterday we hit 500 likes on our travel site www.geokult-travel.com .

We are really excited to share that we almost have 200 followers. We would love to make this milestone this weekend,  so if you haven’t already checked out the site, drop by and say hi. We would really appreciate it 🙂

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Bush Tucker

Understanding what plants and animals were edible and how to prepare them was and is an integral part of Aboriginal cultures in Australia. Over the years, there have been a number of books published on this topic, providing rich insights into the oldest surviving cultures on earth. This recent release Bush Tukka Guide is a real gem, nice and compact in size with foods from a number of regions.

Bush Tucker: Image from survival.org.au
Bush Tucker: Image from survival.org.au

Samantha Martin, the “Bush Tukka Woman”, shares her knowledge and love of bush tucker in her text Bush Tukka Guide. This book provides detailed descriptions of how and where to source each plant or animal species. Samantha Martin is also a descendant of the Kija and Jaru peoples of the east Kimberly region in Western Australia. She was born into a long line of traditional hunters and gatherers and had the opportunity to learn from her family how to survive off the land and surrounding waters. In the book, she also shares her favourite bush tukka recipes, including lemon myrtle slow cooked kangaroo and caramel cluster figs with ice-cream. Sounds delicious!!

If you are interested in other books on the subject of bush tucker, check out Tim Low’s Bush Tucker: Australia’s Wild Food Harvest. Low, a biologist and conservationist also wrote Bush Medicine: both coffee table books won national prizes in Australia at the time.

365 Places: Launch

Over the past few years, I have watched with great interest friends and fellow artists who have created visual diaries from taking photographs of their everyday life and themselves. Many of these projects have been shared on Facebook and other social media channels, making the experience as a viewer immediate and intimate. I also love the Day in the life of series of books as they create a create sense of time and place.

One of my favorite projects is the Rock a Day for my Creativity project by friend and artist Jo Tito. Her project demonstrates a commitment to being more creative and to having focus and discipline as an artist and writer. What is really wonderful, is that now three years later, Jo has amassed a great collection of images, stories and rocks, that she continues to use and build upon in her art practice. Another source of inspiration is Maria Popova’s statement that “every city needs a love letter” in her Brain Pickings article, A Love Letter to the City about artist Steve Powers.

Christmas greeting card featuring Sutton's Beach, Redcliffe, Photographer: Murray, J.
Christmas greeting card featuring Sutton’s Beach, Redcliffe, Photographer: Murray, J.

365 Places is a dedication to geographical connections to place through storytelling. It is an exploration of where I have been and where I would love to go. 365 Places is probably the most literal project I ever created that relates to place, as in the past, there has been an overriding  theme that connects the project to other ideas – e.g. Big Banana Time Inc. and Fauxonomy.

This project, like Jo’s is intended to make me accountable as a writer and artist who works with ideas of identity and ‘place’. Also, like Jo I need to set guidelines for time – 1.5 hours maximum per day. However, I can’t wait for the 1st January 2015 – this project will start on the 20th April 2014, coincidentally my parent’s wedding anniversary. My first post is a tribute to them, the place where they made their first home together and my first home – Redcliffe.

Every day for one year, I will bring you a story about a place, sharing with you why I think it is special and unique. If you have any special places you would like me to write about please contact me and I will write you a story.

The images will either be our own, contributed by readers or from Flickr Commons and authors will be attributed. At the end of the project, we plan to publish a book about this journey.

Places visited so far

Check out the page 365 Places for a complete list.


Tilley’s – a Canberra institution

Tilley's light © Tracey Benson 2014
Tilley’s light © Tracey Benson 2014

When we first arrived in Canberra in 2001, we lived in a tiny apartment in the infamous Brigalow Court in O’Connor. The rent was cheap, it was close to the school, the university and located opposite the Lyneham shops.

In those early days, I would often meet a friend for coffee at the cafe across the road, Tilley’s Devine Cafe Gallery, affectionately known as Tilley’s. I learnt very quickly that this cafe had a rich history as an identity as a local music and social venue.

Tilley’s has a special history for Canberra women as well, as when it initially opened men were only welcome if they were in the company of women.

Lights at Tilley's © Martin Drury 2014
Lights at Tilley’s © Martin Drury 2014

Sally Pryor, in 2003 wrote about Tilley’s in the Canberra Times:

With elegant, dark wood fittings, a moody, deep red colour scheme, and soft jazz wafting between the old-fashioned booths lining the walls, there is some things essentially nostalgic and cinematic about Tilley’s romantic atmosphere, reminiscent of a Hollywood film noir. Its timeless in a way that’s hard to emulate in a youngish, fickle town like Canberra, where high turnover of night spots seem inevitably dictated by the relative hip-factor of the decor, the DJ and the cocktail menu.

Over the years we have had some special times at Tilley’s, for example, we celebrated our son’s 21st luncheon there, which was a lovely day. Another fond memory is of  the cold winter’s day we were very privileged to see Martha Davis from The Motels rehearsing for the evening concert. I remember being quite star struck as well as feeling incredibly lucky to see one of my rock heroes in such an intimate setting. When I asked the waitress if we should go (as we hadn’t paid to watch), I remember her smiling and telling us to relax and enjoy our hot chocolates. Our son was only 8 at the time and he wondered what the fuss was about. For me, memories of playing “Take the ‘L’ out of lover” on the record player in my bedroom came flooding back. At the time, The Motels were one of my favourite bands, so to sit in the booth, all nice and snug watching  Martha was really special.

Inside Tilley's © Tracey Benson 2014
Inside Tilley’s © Tracey Benson 2014

Today, after a gorgeous morning getting pummeled at the foot&thai, we wandered over to Lyneham for a delicious lunch at TIlley’s. It is a cafe style menu, with generous servings and some nice options. The Mushroom Bruschetta was delicious, my husband really enjoyed the Fish and Chips and the Portuguese Chicken Burger was a winner with the 21 y/o.

Tilley’s has not changed much over the years, and Sally’s description of the decor and music in 2003 still holds true. This is a rare thing in a town where re-branding cafes is almost a yearly occurrence, thanks to some bad advice going around from some marketing ‘guru’. Also what hasn’t changed is the quality of the coffee, they certainly know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino – it is surprising the number of cafes in Canberra that don’t know how to make a decent coffee. So after a morning of self indulgence and spoiling, we are off to a great start for the Easter long weekend.
Phone for reservations and information
Reservations available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.
+61 2 6247 7753

Corner of Brigalow & Wattle Streets,
Lyneham ACT 2602, Australia

No, Canberra Doesn’t Suck!

One of the great places to find products that have been handmade by local artists, designers and craftspeople is through Handmade Canberra. They have a shopfront located at City Walk, 20 Allara Street in Civic, which features the work of over 170 local designers. They also run regular markets at the Canberra Convention Centre, 31 Constitution Avenue 4 times a year. The next market is scheduled for June 7 & 8, 10am to 4pm.

Canberra Doesn't Suck
Canberra Doesn’t Suck

I love this lollypop as it says a lot about Canberra’s reputation. There is a stereotyped idea that it is a place of dull monuments and boring public servants, which is simply not true. To the contrary, if people take the time to look around they will find it is a rich, creative and diverse community. Ironically, I also held this belief that public servants were dull, until I joined the APS and worked alongside other people who had identities as artists, musicians, healers, scientists and aid volunteers.

So, no, Canberra doesn’t suck, though it is true that in Winter, the wind can blow.

Canberra Day Trip to Bungendore

Bungendore Village is a popular spot for Canberrans to go on the weekend. It is also well-known as a good place for a cup of tea on the way to Bateman’s Bay on the South Coast. It is a pretty little place with many galleries, antique shops, housewares and cafes. Over the years, Bungendore has grown, offering even more options for shopping, checking out art and coffee.

If you love beautifully crafted wood then you should visit the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery in Malbon Street, where you can see the stunning Hannah Cabinet. This piece of furniture art took six years to complete by master craftsman Goeff Hannah. It was created using 34 different Australian and international timbers, 4 species of shell and 17 varieties of precious stone with extensive marquetry inlays on 18 doors and on, and in, 140 drawers. The cabinet is on permanent display at the gallery.

Hannah Cabinet, photo by Martin Drury
Hannah Cabinet, photo by Martin Drury

At the moment  at the Wood Works Gallery, there is also an exhibition of works as part of the Weereewa festival. The exhibition Interpretations focused on the Lake as inspiration and includes work by David Flanagan, Jeffrey Frith, Anita McIntyre, Natalie McCarthy and Ian Robertson. Anita McIntyre’s work is particularly lovely –  fragile, ceramic works, depicting cartographic imagery, using a range of media including screen printing on to paper that has been coated with clay and fired in the kiln. David Flanagan’s photographs are also stunning, silver gelatin prints on fibre paper that have the appearance of intaglio etchings.

The Weereewa Festival runs in February and March about every two years. The festival focuses on the Lake George region and celebrates arts and environmental activities. Their website says:

Weereewa – a Festival of Lake George was founded in 1999 to celebrate this magnificent ancient landscape in arts and environmental science activities and events.

Some of the activities include nature walks, dance performances and art exhibitions, spanning from Lake George, Bungendore, Canberra and Gouburn. Indigenous knowledge is also a key aspect of the festival. It will be interesting to see how this festival grows over the coming years as it is an excellent theme for a festival – celebrating place and our relationship to it.

Wild Rose Organics stocks a diverse range of goods including hemp products, organic skin care and cosmetics and pride themselves on only selling ethical, quality products with a ‘minimal carbon footprint’.

Gunna Doo pie shop is famous for their sausage rolls, because they are literally sausage wrapped in filo pastry. A cross between a hot dog and a dagwood dog, these tasty treats come in a variety of flavours including satay, cheese, and sweet chilli. You need to get there early though, as they sell out quickly, especially on the weekend.

For years Le Très Bon has tempted me and we plan to have a meal at this authentic French restaurant in the near future. I have heard that the food is fabulous.

There are not a lot of photos of the village and our journey, as for most of the day (and the last week), it has poured rain, which is rare in March but very welcome after a very hot and dry summer.

Idyllic Canberra Sunday

Today was pretty much my idea of a perfect Sunday in Canberra. After sleeping in just a little and catching up on some household chores, we headed off to the Old Bus Depot Markets and Fyshwick Markets. After we stocked up, we then went to my favourite cafe in Belconnen, Ricardo’s Cafe for coffee and Portuguese Tarts. After we dropped off the groceries, we enjoyed a lovely walk up Mt Painter.

EveryTrail Map of Pt Painter walk
EveryTrail Map of Mt Painter walk

Mt Painter Walk at EveryTrail
EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Organic Markets
One thing I really love about Canberra is the quality of food that is organic and/or locally grown and made. There are a number of markets where you can buy really good organic food. For example, the Fyshwick Markets has the Fyshwick Gourmet Organic butcher who sells free range and organic meats, as well as game meat like venison and kangaroo.  For your organic fruit and veggies, you can usually find a good variety at Wiffins, if you get there early. The prices are also reasonable, last week I paid $18.99 for a kilo for apples at the Organic Energy Foods at Griffith, Wiffins had two varieties for $12.99. I never save money though, as I just seem to buy more apples to make up the difference. In defence of Organic Energy Foods, their shop is beautifully presented the produce is always excellent quality and they home deliver.

Other places you can find organic produce in Canberra, include the Capital Region Farmers Market (7.30am to 11.30am on Saturday mornings at Exhibition Park), the Southside Farmer’s Market  (Sunday afternoons at the Woden CIT Campus) and the new Northside Farmers Market at the University of Canberra Campus (2.30-5.30pm, Kirinari Street, in front of Building 10).  You can also go to Choku Bai Jo at the North Lyneham and Curtin shops. Choko Bai Jo also lists the road miles that produce have travelled, to help customers make informed decisions.

Old Bus Depot Markets
The Old Bus Depot markets are always a treat. Located in a couple of old industrial buildings along the Kingston Foreshore, you can find all sorts of wonderful treasure: antiques and collectibles; art and craft; fine food (especially olives, cheeses and breads); and, usually some live music. The markets are situated next door to the Canberra Glassworks which is also worth a visit, as the artists often have demonstrations of glass blowing. I managed not to spend too much money, though we did indulge and share a delicious chocolate brownie with pecans. However, I was very taken with some bags from Vintage Creation made from recycled leather jackets that can be worn 6 ways, I think I will be putting in an order with the designer as they are just gorgeous and I cannot resist a beautiful and practical bag.

Portuguese tarts at Jammo
After enjoying the markets, we went to our favourite cafe in the Belconnen region – Ricardo’s Cafe at the Jamison Plaza (affectionately known as Jammo). Their coffee is always reliable – I am a self admitted coffee snob so this is very important, the food is good and the service is friendly and prompt. We have been going there for years and we are never left waiting for our coffee or our food. They have also consistently won ACT Restaurant and Catering awards over the years. The highlight for us though is a sticky sweet little treat – the Portuguese Tart, made on the premises and absolutely magnificent washed down with a coffee. We have noticed recently that they are getting very busy, so if you have a group, it might be an idea to book a table in advance.

Mt Painter
After offloading the groceries, it was time to get out for a walk, today we stayed close to home, walking up Mt Painter. The views of the Molonglo Valley and the mountains were magnificent, such a great way to end a busy weekend. I will leave you with this view of Mt Stromlo and surrounding areas.

Mt Painter views, photo by Tracey Benson
Mt Painter views, photo by Tracey Benson

Gunning for an Adventure

Harvest Festival
Harvest Festival

In an earlier post titled Weekends in Canberra, I promised to write some articles about some of the things you can do around the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) and southern highlands region.

Today we made our way to the Harvest Festival at the Canberra Environment Centre, where there was some great live music, eco community groups and many stalls selling local fare, much of which was organic.

One of my favourite things I love to buy at organic markets aside from fruit and vegetables, is honey, and I was not disappointed. The Harvest Festival had two stalls with honey and beekeeping information, with both offering free samples of a range of eucalyptus and wild flower varieties. We bought a litre of new season honey which is slightly candied and a thickish texture. It won’t last long at our house, I am a fiend for good honey!

Old bath at Cork St Cafe, photo by Tracey Benson
Old bath at Cork St Cafe, photo by Tracey Benson

Seeing that it was such a lovely day, Marty suggested that we take a drive to Gunning, located around halfway between Yass and Goulburn. On the way, we stopped in at Gundaroo Village for a delicious lunch at the The Cork Street Cafe. This cafe has a long standing reputation for excellent pizzas and beautiful homemade bread rolls and focaccia. Marty had a focaccia with local prosciutto, semi sun dried tomatoes and bocconcini and I had a small Fungi pizza (mushrooms and parmesan). We shared both of our dishes as neither of us wanted to miss out. Our lunch was washed down with a nice pot of English Breakfast tea, while we enjoyed the lovely day sitting at one of the outside tables, shaded by a big umbrella.

After lunch we headed off to Gunning, which was well worth the drive (about 1 hour from Canberra). It is a quaint little place, with lots of historic buildings and a population of about 500 people. It is a town and region that is rich in terms of creativity as well, with many artists, performers and writers living in the surrounding area.

Max Cullen's special sign, photo by Tracey Benson
Max Cullen’s special sign, photo by Tracey Benson

We checked out the Picture House in the main street, as I was curious about all the old books and film memorabilia. When we headed inside, we were greeted by none other than Max Cullen, an actor who has has featured in many excellent Australian movies and television shows, including Baz Luhrmanns’s The Great Gatsby and one of my favourite ABC shows Rake.

Max very graciously posed for a photograph, giving me his special signature sign. Picture House also has a gallery, with work by local artists and a performance space. I really loved the old ticket window, complete with the mannequin ticket seller. She does look a bit like she was jettisoned from the 1970s, check out the hair.

Picture House Ticket Window
Picture House Ticket Window

The Picture House website says that “Actor/Artist Max Cullen and artist Margarita Georgiadis, have occupied The Coronation Theatre (circa 1937) in Gunning since 2004. Renamed The Picture House, The Coronation Theatre ceased showing movies in the mid 1960’s and was abandoned, nearly derelict before Max and Margarita set to work renovating it into what is now a shining landmark of cultural and artistic enjoyment.”

"Dervish", photo by Tracey Benson
“Dervish”, photo by Tracey Benson

Max encouraged us to go into the performance space, where there was a local contemporary dance performance, which was really interesting – and free to watch. Talk about great timing! One of the dances was titled “Dervish” and we looked at each other excitedly, thinking it would be like the Sufi Whirling Dervish dance/performance we are familiar with from Turkey. But it was quite different to what we expected, though still very engaging. Something else that stuck me as a bit unusual, were the  people dressed in colonial outfits in the audience. We guessed that we must have missed some sort of colonial recreation event, as Gunning was settled quite early in comparative terms. To provide a condensed history, the broader region was originally home to two Australian Aboriginal language groups, the Gundungurra people in the north and the Ngunnawal people in the south.

Colonial Costumes
Colonial Costumes

The region (specifically Gundaroo) was first explored by Europeans in 1820, and settled the next year by Hamilton Hume. In 1824, Hume and William Hovell left Gunning to discover the overland route to Port Phillip Bay where Melbourne is sited. Gunning was originally a coach stop, and service centre for the surrounding farms mainly growing Merino sheep. It had a police station and court house, post office, and school. For many years it was also a major stop on the Hume Highway, the main highway between Sydney and Mebourne. The highway now bypasses Gunning.

Anyway, we had a fantastic day on our outing. Our spontaneous decision to go on a short trip reminded me that there is so much to see around the region, and to make the most of the glorious weather while it lasts.

There are many little towns all around the southern tablelands of NSW, the region which skirts the ACT. Many of these small towns and villages have very interesting histories and characters. I will leave you with this photograph Marty took, which sums up Gunning beautifully.

Gunning mural, photo by Martin Drury
Gunning mural, photo by Martin Drury

The Nostalgia of the City

Post from Geokult


We are in Brisbane this weekend to celebrate my parents golden wedding anniversary. 

It was a lovely occasion,  where my parents invited all the family and friends that attended their wedding in 1963. Obviously, I wasn’t there then , but I am a  product of the union between Kevin and Kay.

This morning I am feeling very nostalgic,  we are sitting in a booth seat at my favorite cafe in the valley,  Cosmos. I have so many happy memories of times spent here with friends,  dropping in after gallery openings, bringing my son here when he was little, sitting in the chapel style seats and watching the people go by.


I miss Brisbane,  it is so much a part of who I am.  Yet, I wonder what my life would be like if I returned.  Twelve years is a long time.

Today, I am content to lose myself in my…

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