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Mundy Creek Aboriginal Bush Tucker Poster

Prepared by the TCC Natural Resource Management Trainees and Russell Butler. Thanks to Sophie Thompson, Ally Lankester and the Landcare Centre for their assistance in compiling the poster.

This poster was prepared with the Mundy Creek TCC Natural Area Trainees in 2000. The poster shows some bush tucker of the Mundy Creek and its uses by local Aboriginal people.

Click poster to see full size, or

individual bush tucker photos and text below.

Screw pine (main picture)
Pandanus spiralis or whitii

Photo: NT Conservation Commission

The soft leaf base is chewed to relieve pain of sore throat mouth and tongue. The white leaf stem base is chopped, boiled in water, the liquid cooled and strained then used as a wash or dropped into red or infected eyes. Leaves are used extensively for fibre crafts such as baskets and mesh bags. Prop roots are used as an external wash to treat scabies and very high fevers. The wash must only be used once as it may irritate skin. The seeds (fruit kernels) are eaten raw, being tasty and high in oil content. The soft fleshy base of leaves is also eaten raw, containing carbohydrates. Good walking tucker. The white cabbage is used to make a green dye and antiseptic packing for wounds. The trunks are used to make didgeridoos and rafts

Leichhardt tree
Nauclea orientalis

Coastal Aboriginal people in North Queensland use this tree. The trunk wood is used for making toy canoes and paddles. Its fruit when crushed with water is used as baby food, and is also used as a medicine for coughs, colds, stomach pains and diarrhea. Towards the end of the dry the bark can be used as a fish poison in small waterholes.
Photo: NT Conservation Commission

Cocky Apple
Planchonia careya

This is a very important tree to Aboriginal people around Townsville. Calendar plant: tells people when it is time to fish barramundi by its flowering time, also when turtles are fat and ready to eat. Leaves and bark are used to treat boils, headaches, leprosy wounds, prickly heat and chicken pox. Bark is crushed and thrown in waterholes to take oxygen out of water and poison fish. Bark is also used to make belts and dilly bags. Boomerangs are made out of the timber.
Photo: NT Conservation Commission

Beach Bean
Canavalia rosea
Good headache relief: the leaf is browned on the fire and placed over the headache. It is used as a fish poison in salt water. The seeds are edible after thorough cooking; otherwise they are poisonous when raw.

Photo - Society for Growing Australian Plants

Red Tea Tree, Red Paperbark
Melaleuca dealbata

This is a paperbark that tolerates salt water. With any paperbark you can dig down to find fresh water. It has very strong wood that never rots, with many uses for tools.
Photo - John Brock

Red ash
Alphitonia excelsa

The leaves of these trees are used as soap when crushed with water to make a lather. The leaves and fruit are used as a fish poison in small waterholes. Leaves, roots and bark are used for medicinal purposes: sore eyes, upset stomach and headaches. Leaves are also used to wrap meat, which is cooked in an open fire. The ash of the burnt timber can be mixed with water to apply to ringworms and skin disorders.
Photo: NT Conservation Commission

Lolly Bush
Clerodendrum floribundum

This is an important plant for making firesticks. Local people would lay the tree down to get straight firesticks from it. The stem is used for making pipes. Straight stems are used for arm splints. Roots are like parsnip to eat, but the fruit cannot be eaten. Young leaves can be crushed and boiled in water; the liquid cooled and strained and used as a lotion on scaly or itchy skin and sores. The lotion is also taken internally to treat diarrhea, backache, internal pain, headaches, pains and bronchial congestion. The left over liquid is applied to skin, left overnight and washed off the next day.
Photo - Society for Growing Australian Plants

Sand paper fig
Ficus opposita

Scrapings of inner bark from the stem and the roots are boiled in water. The liquid is cooled, strained and taken frequently in small doses. This is an excellent remedy for diarrhea and is also used as an eyewash. Leaves are crushed and soaked in water and the liquid is applied to itchy skin conditions such as scabies and chicken pox. The rough sandpaper-like leaves are used to rub onto skin infections such as ringworm prior to treating the skin with other bush medicines. The fruit may be eaten when ripe (red to brown). The leaves are used as sandpaper on wooden tools.
Photo: NT Conservation Commission

White Mangrove
Avicennia marina

Fruit can be eaten after extensive soaking and cooking. Leaves can be used for flavouring food. Dry old timber is burnt and the black ash is mixed with seawater to form a paste. This is applied daily to infected sores, ringworm, boils and other skin disorders and is considered to be a very effective treatment. Leaves and stems are used to relive marine stings and bites. The timber is used to make shields and boomerangs.
Photo: NT Conservation Commission

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