Thursday, 9 January 2014

Traditional Aboriginal Food in Northern Territories, Australia - Johor Kaki Travels


This is a special post unlike the usual stall or restaurant recommendations. It's about the traditional foods of Australia's aboriginal peoples as recorded in their ancient rock paintings, before contact with Europeans.

(I had the chance to view the aboriginal rock paintings in Australia's Kakadu National Park as the prize for winning the Best Food Blog at the Singapore Blog Awards 2013.)

Australia's aboriginal people recorded their everyday lives in the caves where they lived for over 50,000 years. Food, of course, is a big part of life and hence are featured prominently in the rock paintings. From the rock paintings at Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr Rock in Kakadu National Park, we able to piece together some aspects of what the aboriginal peoples ate and how they lived.


Kakadu National Park is blessed with flood plains, billabongs (large ponds) and mangroves. Fish, therefore, are a big part of the aboriginal diet.


Barramundi fish are frequently featured in the rock paintings.


Barramundis are large brackish water fish that are also found in the mangroves of Johor where they are known as Sea Bass 金目鲈.


On the right, under the arrow, is the large traditional aboriginal fish trap woven with vine.


This is what an aboriginal fish trap, made with vines, looks like in real life. This example is at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territories in Darwin.


Not surprisingly, kangaroos and wallabies feature prominently in the aboriginal diet as these important sources of protein are abundant.


Kangaroos are hunted by throwing spears.


Can you see the big bellied Monitor Lizard?


The long necked turtle. The fat from turtles (and other animals) is considered a delicacy.

Aboriginal peoples usually eat their meats raw.

Other important food not seen in the rock art at Kakadu National Park are emus (large flightless bird like an ostrich) and crocodiles which are common in this region. As hunter gatherers, plants and insects are also part of the aboriginal diet.

Acknowledgement: My trip to Darwin was graciously supported by Northern Territories Tourism Australia and Singapore Press

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