We have developed this section for you to enjoy exploring and tasting the recipes that are included, and to have some fun with the children in your care in making your own bush tucker delights! Within this section, you will find an explanation about bush tucker and many examples of Australian native foods. We have provided further information for you by including links to the websites and videos that we sourced the recipes from, so you can have fun finding out more!
References and pictures contained within this section are largely sourced from Wikipedia:
Bush tucker (often referred to as ‘bushfood’ in Australia) is the traditional food native to Australia used as sustenance by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have eaten native animal and plant foods for an estimated 60,000 years of human habitation on the Australian continent. Bush tucker is also a reference to any native fauna/flora that is used for culinary and/or medicinal purposes regardless of which continent or culture it originates from.
Examples of Australian native plant foods include the fruits:
Quandong, kutjera, muntries, riberry, Davidson’s plum, and finger lime. Native spices include lemon myrtle, mountain pepper, and aniseed myrtle.
A popular leafy vegetable is Warrigal greens. Nuts include bunya nut, and the most identifiable bushfood plant harvested and sold in large scale commercial quantities is the macadamia nut.
There are various traditional methods of processing and cooking foods. Toxic seeds, such as Cycas media and Moreton Bay chestnut are processed to remove the toxins and render them safe to eat. Many foods are also baked in the hot campfire coals, or baked for several hours in ground ovens. ‘Paperbark’, the bark of Melaleuca species, is widely used for wrapping food placed in ground ovens. Bush bread (also known as ‘damper’) is made by women using many types of seeds, nuts and corns to process a flour or dough to make bread.
The recent recognition of the nutritional and gourmet value of native foods by non-Indigenous Australians means that native cuisine is becoming more popular, and is being introduced to many for the first time.
Native Australian food plants listed by culinary province and plant part
Australian bushfood plants can be divided into several distinct and large regional culinary provinces. Please note, some species listed grow across several climatic boundaries.
Top End of Australia
(Monsoonal zone of the Northern Territory, Cape York and Northwestern Australia)
“P Morc D1252”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:P_Morc_D1252.JPG#/media/File:P_Morc_D1252.JPG
- Adansonia gregorii – Boab
- Buchanania arborescens
- Citrus gracilis – Kakadu Lime
- Eugenia carissoides – Cedar Bay Cherry
- Ficus racemosa – Cluster Fig
- Manilkara kaukii – Wongi
- Melastoma affine – Blue Tongue
- Mimusops elengi – Tanjong
- Morinda citrifolia – Great Morinda
- Physalis minima – Native Gooseberry
- Terminalia ferdinandiana – Kakadu Plum
- Syzygium erythrocalyx – Johnstone’s River Satinash
- Syzygium fibrosum – Fibrous Satinash
- Syzygium suborbiculare – Lady Apple
- Dioscorea alata – Chinese or winged yam
- Dioscorea bulbifera – Round Yam
- Dioscorea transversa – Pencil Yam, Long Yam
- Eleocharis spp. – Mat-Rush, a traditional staple for Yolngu
- Ipomoea aquatica – Native Kang Kong
- Nelumbo nucifera – lotus
- Nymphaea macrosperma – water lily
- Cycas media – Cycad palm seeds (Require detoxification: see Bush bread)
- Semecarpus australiensis – Australian Cashew
- Terminalia catappa – Sea Almond
- Eucalyptus staigeriana – Lemon Ironbark
- Melaleuca leucadendra – Weeping Paperbark
- Melaleuca viridiflora – Kitcha-kontoo
- Ocimum tenuiflorum – Native Basil
(Arid and semi-arid zones of the low rainfall interior)
- Capparis spp. – Native Caper, Caperbush
- Capparis mitchelii – Wild orange
- Capparis spinosa
- subsp. nummularia – Wild passionfruit
- Carissa lanceolata – Bush plum, Conkerberry
- Citrus glauca – Desert Lime
- Enchylaena tomentosa – Ruby Saltbush
- Ficus platypoda – Desert Fig
- Marsdenia australis – Doubah, Bush Banana
- Owenia acidula – Emu Apple
- Santalum acuminatum – Quandong, Desert or Sweet Quandong
- Santalum murrayanum – Bitter Quandong
- Solanum centrale – Akudjura, Australian Desert Raisin, Bush tomato
- Solanum cleistogarnum – Bush tomato
- Solanum ellipticum – Bush tomato
- Calandrinia balonensis – Parakeelya
- Ipomoea costata – Bush potato
- Vigna lanceolata – Pencil Yam
- Lepidium spp. – Peppercresses
- Portulaca intraterranea – Large Pigweed
- Acacia aneura – Mulga
- Acacia colei
- Acacia coriacea – Dogwood
- Acacia holosericea – Strap Wattle
- Acacia kempeana – Witchetty Bush
- Acacia murrayana
- Acacia pycnantha
- Acacia retinodes
- Acacia tetragonophylla – Dead finish seed
- Acacia victoriae – Gundabluey, Prickly wattle
- Brachychiton populneus – Kurrajong
- Panicum decompositum – native millet
- Portulaca oleracea – Pigweed
- Triodia spp. – commonly known as spinifex
- Eucalyptus polybractea – Blue-leaved Mallee
Insects in gall
- Bush coconut
- Mulga apple
(Subtropical rainforests of New South Wales to the wet tropics of Northern Queensland)
- Acronychia acidula – Lemon Aspen
- Acronychia oblongifolia – White Aspen
- Antidesma bunius – Herbet River Cherry
- Archirhodomyrtus beckleri – Rose Myrtle
- Austromyrtus dulcis – Midyim
- Carpobrotus glaucescens – Pigface
- Citrus australasica – Finger Lime
- Citrus australis – Dooja
- Davidsonia jerseyana – New South Wales Davidson’s Plum
- Davidsonia johnsonii – Smooth Davidsonia
- Davidsonia pruriens – North Queensland Davidson’s Plum
- Diploglottis campbellii – Small-leaf Tamarind
- Eupomatia laurina – Bolwarra
- Ficus coronata – Sandpaper Fig
- Melodorum leichhardtii – Zig Zag Vine
- Pleiogynium timorense – Burdekin Plum
- Podocarpus elatus – Illawarra Plum
- Planchonella australis – Black Apple
- Rubus moluccanus – Broad-leaf Bramble
- Rubus probus – Atherton Raspberry
- Rubus rosifolius – Rose-leaf Bramble
- Syzygium australe – Brush Cherry
- Syzygium luehmannii – Riberry
- Syzygium paniculatum – Magenta Lilly Pilly
- Ximenia americana – Yellow Plum
- Apium prostratum – Sea Celery
- Commelina cyanea – Scurvy Weed
- Geitonoplesium cymosum – Scrambling Lily
- Tetragonia tetragonoides – Warrigal Greens
- Trachymene incisa – Wild Parsnip
- Urtica incisa – Scrub Nettle
- Alpinia caerulea – Native Ginger
- Backhousia citriodora – Lemon Myrtle
- Backhousia myrtifolia – Cinnamon Myrtle
- Leptospermum liversidgei – Lemon Tea-tree
- Prostanthera incisa – Cut-leaf Mintbush
- Smilax glyciphylla – Sweet Sarsaparilla
- Syzygium anisatum – Aniseed Myrtle
- Tasmannia stipitata – Dorrigo pepper (leaf and pepperberry)
- Araucaria bidwillii – Bunya Nut
- Athertonia diversifolia – Atherton Almond
- Macadamia integrifolia – Macadamia Nut
- Macadamia tetraphylla – Bush Nut
- Sterculia quadrifida – Peanut Tree
(Warm and cool temperate zones of southern Australia, including Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and the highlands of New South Wales)
Seeds of Acacia Longifolia
- Acrotriche depressa – Native Currant
- Billardiera cymosa – Sweet Apple-berry
- Billardiera longiflora – Purple Apple-berry
- Billardiera scandens – Common Apple-berry
- Carpobrotus rossii – Karkalla
- Exocarpus cupressiformis – Native Cherry
- Gaultheria hispida – Snow Berry
- Kunzea pomifera – Muntries
- Rubus parvifolius – Pink-flowered Native Raspberry
- Sambucus gaudichaudiana – White Elderberry
- Acacia longifolia – Golden Rods
- Acacia sophorae – Coast Wattle
- Eucalyptus dives – Peppermint Gum
- Eucalyptus olida – Strawberry Gum
- Eucalyptus globulus – Tasmanian Blue Gum
- Mentha australis – River Mint
- Prostanthera rotundifolia – Native Thyme
- Tasmannia lanceolata – Mountain pepper
- Tasmannia stipitata – Dorrigo Pepper
- Apium insulare – Flinders Island Celery
- Atriplex cinerea – Grey Saltbush
- Burchardia umbellata – Milkmaids
- Eustrephus latifolius – Wombat berry
- Microseris lanceolata – Murnong
BUSH TUCKER RECIPES
There are so many different bush tucker recipes to explore! We have highlighted two favourites below. Download our Bush tucker recipes resource for detailed recipes of our favourite bush tucker delights! These recipes cover drinks, pizza and pastas, soups, fish, meat, sweets and condiments. Enjoy!
Apple and cinnamon damper
- 3 cups self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 75g of chilled butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- 2 gala or pink lady apples, grated
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 banana, sliced when serving
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Grease a baking tray and line it with baking paper.
- Lightly grease the baking paper. Set aside.
- Mix together the flour, salt, sugars and cinnamon in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour mixture until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs.
- Add the grated apple and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Add the milk and 1/2 cup of cold water to flour mixture. Mix until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Add a little extra water if necessary to moisten the dough slightly.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Gently knead it until it’s just smooth (about 4 times).
- Shape dough into a 15-20cm round. Place the round on the prepared baking tray.
- Rub some flour on a sharp knife and score top of damper into 8 wedges.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Tap the bread and if it sounds hollow, it’s ready.
- Let the bread stand on the tray for 5 minutes and then place it on a wire rack to cool.
- Slice and serve with butter, banana and maple syrup.
- Store the damper in an airtight container for up to a week. It can also be frozen.
- Barramundi head and wings
- 3 sticks celery, cut to chunks
- 3 sassafras leaves
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
- 1 to 2 sprigs of tarragon
- Shredded coriander leaf for garnish
- Light soy sauce for serving
- Boil the head, wings, celery, sassafras leaves, onion, pepper and tarragon into a tall stock pot. Add enough water to cover 3 cm above fish.
- Simmer for 1 hour over a medium heat. Do not boil.
- Turn off heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
- Ladle the stock into a muslin-line strainer, leaving the last two ladleful’s behind.
- Remove the cheeks from the barra head and the long white muscle meat from the wings and add them to the hot broth.
- Serve with shredded coriander leaf and a hint of light soy sauce.
FURTHER LINKS AND INFORMATION
Websites with recipes for bush tucker
‘Feeding Your Mob with fruit & veg – Bush Tucker tips!’ is a recipe booklet originally developed by a partnership from the Mid North Coast of NSW. This recipe booklet contains fruit and vegetable recipes that are popular and easy to make. The recipes are accompanied by illustrated instructions to make the preparation fun and easy for you and your mob.
‘Little Eco Footprints’ is a website about learning to live better with less. It has been developed by a woman called Tricia who’s dream is to live close to nature; have space to grow food; have a little ecological footprint; and to be part of a community. Tricia has developed a page specifically to bush tucker. You will find information about native plants, where to find them, how to use them, along with some great recipes with lots of pictures of yummy dishes.
Outback Chef.com.au is a website about showcasing Australia’s native cuisine and teaching the best way to use the many herbs, spices, fruits and berries that grow naturally in Australia. It has been developed by Jude Mayall who is a Director on the board of ANFIL (Australian Native Food Industry). Jude has worked with Indigenous children at Tiwi College on their healthy eating program “Taste It, Do It, Live It” and has conducted bush food cooking classes, teaching and giving many bushfolk cooking demonstrations. You will find on this website lots of featured recipes and heaps of information on Australian native food, if you want to use native food in your new recipes ‘Outback chef’ has a huge range of bush tucker to choose from.
Bush Tucker Recipes.com is a website developed by the Taste Australia Bush Food Shop. The shop enables easy access to Australian native bush tucker with a range of dried herbs and spices sourced from the rainforests along Australia’s eastern seaboard and from the inland bush. Whether you are just beginning your journey or are just seeking innovative ways to incorporate bush tucker into your daily life, this site hopes to inspire you to create and enjoy many memorable meals. You will find a shop to buy products, recipes to make and menus to create.
OTHER WEBSITES OF INTEREST
The Kool Purple Kookas project was a cooking program delivered by Kool Purple Kookas, a not-for-profit organisation in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW). The project aimed to teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children about healthy eating habits and the relationship between a good diet and chronic disease prevention via one-day cooking lessons.
The following link is about how to build a bush tucker garden. It was featured on a SBS episode of ‘Costa’s Garden Odyssey’, and titled ‘Pimp My Plants: Bush Tucker At Indigenous School’. The school involved in the show, Alexandria Park Community School in inner Sydney, is a green oasis in the middle of the industrial sprawl. The school, with its large Indigenous student base, asked Costa to help them build a bush tucker garden to be used as part of the school curriculum.
IndigiTUBE is an online community for sharing and accessing media made by and for Indigenous people in remote Australia. The IndigiTUBE website is a celebration of Indigenous language, culture and media. The site allows registered contributors to upload and control their content. You can watch many videos from this site under ‘Cooking Shows and Bush Food’.
Catch & Cook: Cherabin (Freshwater Prawn) – Terry Marshall & Robert Lee go to Fitzroy river with their families to fish for Cherabin (Giant Freshwater Prawn). They show people how to catch and cook the Cherabin. Robert Lee also brought a Bush Turkey with him, which they also cook and have a lovely feast with their families.
Inma Maku is a short video made by the Rikina Video Show. This video shows the importance of culture tradition and community, and opens itself to interesting discussion about its message: ‘The digging for witchetty grub, the cooking, the eating and the dancing’.
Kampurarpa: Bush Tomatoes – In the following video clip, women and children gather bush tomatoes in the country and provides the following message: ‘The collecting, the cleaning, the preparation, the eating, with song’.