Tag Archives: Indigenous Culture

Samoan Skills: Making Coconut Milk

Text: Garry Benson
Images: © Garry Benson 2014

My friends and I enjoyed a great day at the locally named Bali’ha’i Island on the west coast of Samoa’s home island Savaiʻi, the largest and highest island in Samoa and the Samoa Islands chain.

Our guide Falou showed us how to make Coconut Milk in ten easy steps, here they are in images.

You can see more about Samoa, by checking out Martin Drury’s Photo Essay.

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Check out our new section of the site: Destinations

Good morning lovelies!

To make it easier to find articles and photos of some of our favourite locations, we have created a new section of the site: Destinations. Under the tab, located on the main menu, you can find information grouped under the place-name.

We hope this new feature will be useful and help you navigate our site.

Tracey and Marty in Istanbul
Tracey and Marty in Istanbul

 

365 Places: Shepparton

Day 17: Shepparton, Victoria, Australia

Today we are going back to Victoria, to the town where I spent 6 weeks as a secondee with Jawun – Shepparton, more affectionately known as Shep. While I was in Shepparton, I worked for the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation , to find out more you can read my recent story titled: Collaborations between culture and science: Yorta Yorta projects.

Shepparton lies in the flood plains country of northern Victoria and is nestled on the banks of the Goulburn River. The region is known as the Goulburn Valley, and it is famous for its many fruit farms. Sadly in recent years, the fruit canning industry in Australia has been in decline, having a big impact on Shep and surrounding communities.

Shepparton Cows
Shepparton Cows

The first thing that stuck me about Shepparton was the diversity of international cuisine, as there are many restaurants in town with all manner of foods – including Indian, Thai, Turkish, Chinese, and most interestingly Albanian. I was very surprised to learn that Albanian migrants have been in the region for several generations, mainly fruit farming (along with Italian migrants).

Lutfiyes Shish Kebab
Lutfiyes Shish Kebab

Lutfiyes Shish Kebabs is run by an Albanian family and has great food – great variety of salads, curried meats, kebabs and even lasagne. The people that run Lutfiyes are simply amazing. Over many years they have volunteered their time and energy to the Shepparton community, doing everything from preparing ANZAC Day brunch to feeding tired, hungry firefighters. You can see some of their great community support on their Facebook page.

Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/lutfiyes.shish.kebab
Image credit: https://www.facebook.com/lutfiyes.shish.kebab

One curious and interesting fact about Shepparton is that it has an abundance of tattooists.

Another place I love in Shep is SAM – Shepparton Art Museum – it has a wonderful collection of Australian art and is a beautiful space.

Although I missed my family a lot when I was working in Shepparton, I met some fabulous people who are now our friends and learnt a great deal about Yorta Yorta culture, the history of the region and even some things about myself.

Collaborations between culture and science: Yorta Yorta projects

It is almost a year since I headed to Shepparton on a Jawun secondment to work with the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation (YYNAC). My role was to help them to develop their social media presence and internal communications tools. It was a big brief for six weeks, and it is great to see that they continue to be very active on Facebook, having over 700 followers liking their page at https://www.facebook.com/YYNAC. For me, it was a really enriching and challenging time and one of the highlights of my public service career to date.

When I heard that I would be working with YYNAC, I was thrilled – as I had read about the work that they had done with researchers into building bridges between cultural knowledge of land and scientific research. For example, their ongoing partnership with the Monash Sustainibility Institute has resulted in numerous research papers. I was very fortunate to be in the audience for the presentation of their paper Indigenous voices in climate change adaptation, at the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) conference in Sydney last year. Another researcher from the US, Caroline Addler has also worked with the Yorta Yorta people over the years – check out pp 36-37 of Mountain Meridian.

Map of Barmah lake area, Image Credit: www.facebook.com/YYNAC
Map of Barmah lake area, Image Credit: http://www.facebook.com/YYNAC

I have recently heard that they are developing an app for mobiles and handheld devices, using Bluetooth technology, with the working title Bluetooth Tourism Product: for a walking tour around Barmah National Park. This project sounds really exciting and I can’t wait to go down to visit and try out the app.

From the Facebook page:

Since the closure of the Dharnya Centre we continue to create opportunities through a range of different activities that can value add economically and educationally.

The particular product is a new app tool using bluetooth sensors and tablets. We are currently recording people from community talking about significant areas of country to create a walk from the Dharnya Centre taking in to area to the Barmah Lake, Broken Creek.

If you want some background into their work, the suite of digital stories on the YYNAC website is a great place to start understanding the research that has evolved over recent years. In particular, the video, Nhawul Bultjubul Ma (To See with Both Eyes) offers some brilliant insights:

To further highlight the Yorta Yorta peoples engagement with key agencies and researchers, in December 2013, a delegation from the World Bank met with the Yorta Yorta community. The delegation included representatives from Cambodia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Samoa and Zambia.

World Bank Delegation, Image Credit: www.facebook.com/YYNAC
World Bank Delegation, Image Credit: http://www.facebook.com/YYNAC

The Yorta Yorta people stand out as a highly engaged group, willing to collaborate, share knowledge and learn from new technologies. I look forward to seeing more amazing work from this community. It was a real privilege to work with them and I hope our connection continues to strengthen over time.

If you are interested in reading more about my Jawun secondment, you can check out the blog posts I wrote while working with YYNAC on the geokult site.

 

References:
Griggs, DJ, Lynch, AH, Joachim, L, Zhu, X, Adler, CE, Bischoff-Mattson, Z, Wang, P & Kestin, TS 2013, Indigenous voices in climate change adaptation: Addressing the challenges of diverse knowledge systems in the Barmah-Millewa, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 64 pp.

 

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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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: Aspley

Day 9: Aspley, Queensland, Australia

Today’s post is about a place where I spent some of my formative years, a suburb in Brisbane, Aspley.

When I was a child, Aspley was considered the ‘gateway’ to the north – as it is located on both sides of the Gympie Road which turns into the Bruce Highway – or Highway 1. This is the road that takes you from Brisbane all the way to the Cairns and beyond.

As a child much of the land around me was rural or bush, making it an ideal place to play and explore, despite the highway being close by. We spent many hours down at Cabbage Tree creek, looking for guppies and frogs. When I went back to Brisbane as an adult, I was shocked and surprised to see how much this suburb had changed. This realisation led to the development of a performance work, titled Scalpland, which I reflected upon when I participated in the SCANZ2013 residency. My blog post Contemplating SCANZ2013 Themes – Revisiting Scalpland explored my connection to this place and its history.

As a kid I loved escaping to the bushland close by, and I remember getting in trouble for making a gunyah (cubby house) down in the bush behind the school. The picture below is of the school in the 1890s and you can see the magnificent trees in the background.

Aspley School, 1890. This photo was originally owned by Henry Cecil Carr, who is in this photo with his brother Albert Rupert Carr.
Aspley School, 1890. This photo was originally owned by Henry Cecil Carr, who is in this photo with his brother Albert Rupert Carr.

One of the very interesting things I found out was that Gympie Road and Albany Creek Road were Aboriginal tracks. The creek where I played as a child was a meeting place and crossroad for potentially tens of thousands of years. Mr Wikipedia states:

Soon after Brisbane was declared a free settlement in 1842, people began exploring the lands north of Brisbane City. A northern route followed aboriginal tracks through what is now Kelvin Grove, Enoggera, Everton Hills, Albany Creek onto North Pine. This route is still known as “‘Old Northern Road’” and “‘Old North Road’” in places.
Another aboriginal track branching eastward from the Old Northern Road at the South Pine River crossed towards Little Cabbage Tree Creek and continued towards Downfall Creek. This track is now known as “Albany Creek Road” and “Gympie Road”. Albany Creek Road was known as “Chinaman Creek Road” before 1888.

Here is a map of where the tracks used to be, the line in the centre is Maundrell Tce (my street) with my house highlighted.

Ancient Tracks
Ancient Tracks

When I go back to Brisbane, invariably we still drive through Aspley and it is a place rich of memories and daydreams of the past.

Resources

Chermside and District History http://www.chermsidedistrict.org.au/chermsidedistrict/01_cms/details.asp?ID=129 (accessed 28 April 2014)

Check out these websites for more information:
http://queenslandplaces.com.au/node/39

http://www.chermsidedistrict.org.au/chermsidedistrict/default.asp

Kondoni Sculpture

Text: ©2014 Garry Benson
Images: ©2014 Garry Benson

Kondoni sculpture ©2014 Garry Benson
Kondoni sculpture ©2014 Garry Benson

A beautiful Whale mosaic in Victor Harbor, South Australia. The Ngarrindjeri and Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal people and the local community all contributed to the project as a part of the reconciliation process.

Kondoni sculpture ©2014 Garry Benson
Kondoni sculpture ©2014 Garry Benson

It tells the story of Kondoli (the Ngarrindjeri whale story) as well as the Pitjantjatjara story of the seven sisters. The seven sisters story is relevant to Aboriginal people throughout Australia, as it is a dreaming story universal to most tribal groups. Other artwork is depictions of animals and plants native to Ngarrindjeri and Pitjantjatjara homelands.