On 25th of September, my class went to the Botanic gardens and Migration museum, with 3/4RM. On the way there, I read “Five Nights at Freddy’s the Twisted Ones” and I saw my mum in her car, as she was driving to the excursion.
When we first got to the Botanical gardens, we sat down and had brain food. I noticed that the tree we were sitting under, had a sign it said hybrid. I wasn’t sure how a tree became a hybrid, since to me a hybrid means when two things fuse together to become one. My teacher said that this would be a good question for our guide.
Our guides name was Karen. She said that when two different types of trees join, they can sometime become one. She didn’t elaborate on that.
The first part of our tour, was to visit a 350 year old River red gum. This tree was and still is of significant importance to Kaurna people. I learnt that over 50,000 years ago, aboriginal people used the tree for collecting honey, as honey-bees would make their hive inside the tree trunk. Aboriginal men also collected bird eggs, and done so carefully using a long stick with a basket at the end, so as to not leave their scent near the nest. Birds would abandon the nest and eggs in it, once it was disturbed. By collecting eggs this way they ensured continual source of food for their people. They also collected bird feathers, and used these for ceremonial purposes. Other uses included to make a shield out of its bark and to make a canoe. Aboriginal people would never cut down the tree, but would carefully carve around it thus ensuring trees continual growth and sustainability as a food source. We learnt that possum fur was used to make coats to keep warm during winter. Special thread from plants was used to sew furs together. Green eucalyptus leaves were used as cold medicine. They were crushed up and made into a hot drink, and also used for cuts and grazes as a natural antiseptic.
Today, we still use eucalyptus in tissues and essential oils to name a few.
Second plant we saw was a ‘Zanthorrea’ or commonly known as Grass tree. This tree grows all over Australia. Aboriginal people would use the stem part of the tree for making a spear. The leaves were used for making rope, and weaving baskets. 50,000 years ago, everything aboriginal people made and ate had to come from the land. Karen showed us a woven basket from Nigiri group of aboriginal people, not Kaurna. She knew this, based on the weave work.
Spikey flower was being passed around. We learnt that when in bloom, its small seeds were ground with stone to make flour. This was then made into cake, similar to damper. The spiky flower on its stem was also used as fire torch. The oils in the seeds would make the flower burn for longer. Large base of this Grass tree would also be burned to make glue or resin. Aboriginal people would use this resin to join their tools together, e.g spear and shaft. This tree is now protected, and is illegal to cut down.
Third plant we were shown was Morton Bay fig tree. The tree was planted 150 years ago, and it came from Queensland. This tree provides good environment for home and shade. Fig trees have fruit on the inside. The holes on the figs were made by wasps to pollinate the fruit. Aboriginal people would use the figs and make something similar to today’s ‘fruit roll up’, which they carried with them on long journeys.
Afterwards we were taken to ‘Australian forest’ part of Botanical gardens. Aboriginal people would use a long stick and bore into holes inside river red gum, in order to collect witchetty grubs or “bardi” grubs. These were an excellent source of protein, and are considered a delicacy. We learnt that Aboriginals believed only men were allowed to collect the grubs from the tree. Women had to dig around the base for the grubs.
Our next stop in the tour was at a “Bunyip tree” which we learnt was considered very important for Queensland group of Aboriginal people. Bunyip pine is the food source in this instance, having about 200 nuts in an average size pine cone. The nuts were crushed up and flour used to make cake. This gluten free flour tastes very much like macadamia or chestnut flour, so very delicious. The trunk of this tall tree is very rough and broad, making it difficult to climb. The pine fruits every 2-3 years. It was considered a great honour for 15 year old boys to climb the tree and collect pine cones for their community. Only the strong boys were invited to do this, partly because it’s such a dangerous task.
On our way to the next stop, we walked past a ginger plant. The ginger root is harvested, but we could smell the ginger by rubbing the leaves between our fingers.
Nearing the end of our tour, we were shown the most significant tree at the Botanical gardens. This particular tree is over 300 years old. Its trunk was a home for a group of 12 Aboriginal people. We couldn’t imagine so many living in such a tight space. The trunk was hollowed out to make space for them, and not cut down.
We noticed another section of a cut river red gum trunk sitting next to the 300 year old gum tree. This was in fact cut down by early European settlers, and was in fact used to make furniture. As is the case today. We learnt to judge a trees approximate age by how many rings its base has. Every year the tree grows, it adds another ring. Its worth noting, that in case of drought the tree will not grow.
Next tree we were shown was a ‘Parra Parra” tree, which grows in Queensland. This tree was used for hunting by Aboriginal men. It has beautiful flowers, to which birds are attracted to. They would then get stuck to the trees glue pod, and wouldn’t be able to fly away. Aboriginal men would collect the birds by net, and eat them. The glue pods were also collected and woven together and made into traps to lure smaller animals. This was one of the many hunting strategies used by Aboriginal people.
Finally, the last tree on our tour was a “Bottle tree” which was used as a water source. Banging on the tree trunk, it sounded hollow. The large root system underground is how tree sucks up water after the rain. Aboriginal people would get a stick and a stone like hammer and make a hole in the trunk. They would collect the water and drink it, and once finished carefully seal the hole with glue or resin. Bottle tree is a really important source of water, which originates from Queensland. This tree is considered a self repairing tree.
In conclusion, we learnt that Aboriginal people were and still are very skilfull in knowing about land. As well as not to destroy our native flora and fauna, but to help conserve it for future generations.
Below are things of interest, that we spotted on the trail.
Picture 1: Dead rat
Picture2: Macadamia nut shell
Picture3: Green and Gold Feather
We enjoyed a break and had recess after our tour.
Next, we visited the Migration museum:
We walked from the Botanic gardens to the Migration museum, where we met up with our guide David.
We sat in the corridor while we listened to the stories of our first European settlers, migrating to Australia. Migration means moving to a new country to live. We learnt that Aboriginal and Torren Strait Islanders were the original settlers of Australia. Their heritage dates back to between 60,000 – 70,000 years ago.
The first fleet of convicts to settle Sydney, Australia was in 1788. South Australia was settled 48 years later, in 1836. No convicts were originally settled in South Australia. First SA European settlers came on a ship called “Buffalo”. There is a replica model of the ship in Glenelg still to this day.
Our first settlers mistreated Aboriginal people by putting them in camps, mainly to keep them out of the way. They were given flour, sugar, water and tobacco as food staples to survive. Most of Aboriginal population were extinct by being exposed to colds, flues, smallpox and measles. As these diseases were introduced by Europeans, there was a little chance of survival so early on. By being so badly mistreated by the early settlers, only 15% of Aboriginal people survived in the end.
Children that had no parents, or were extremely poor were placed in a home for destitute children. Life was extremely tough in England for poor kids back in 1800’s, and many as young as 4 had to work in order to survive. They were employed in factories and to clean industrial and domestic chimneys as children were small enough to fit. This was dangerous and dirty work. Leaving England for a better life in Australia, seemed like a wonderful idea. It was a six month voyage to Australia. Many people got sick did not make the trip, and once dead would be thrown overboard. It was cramped, dirty and those who couldn’t afford their fare, were expected to care for the livestock on board.