Wednesday, May 18, 2011

6 May 2011: The Royal Botanic Gardens' Aboriginal Heritage Tour

Macquarie Culvert - a drain crossing under the original Mrs Macquarie's road.
The bridge is the oldest in Australia and originally the deck would have been made of wood.

During my previous visit to Sydney last November, I was acquainted with the story of indigenous Australian personalities such as Woollarawarre Bennelong thanks to The Rocks Walking Tour. Such acquaintances got me curious about the way of the life of the indigenous Aboriginal people. When I learnt that there is a Aboriginal Heritage Tour conducted at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens every Friday morning, I felt that this would be one tour I could go together with my mother.

The Aboriginal Heritage Tour is a tour that lends visitors to discover the rich Aboriginal Heritage of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Many of the indigenous Aboriginal people lived as hunter-gatherers. What better ways to understand the culture and heritage of the indigenous Aboriginal people other than exploring the uses behind various plants and tasting some bush foods?

Candlenut. This variety is not meant to be eaten.

During the tour, we tasted the juicy Davidson's plum. Was it sweet, salty or sour? Go for this tour and find it out for yourself please.

I was intrigued by the Prickly leaved tea tree which is a variety of paperbark tree. The bark of this tree is used by the indigenous Aboriginal people as a bandage. It can also be used as a blanket, a disposable raincoat and more!

My mother appeared more interested in the lemon myrtle. The leaves of this plant has a citrus fragrance. Our knowledgeable guide told us that one of the applications of the lemon myrtle is that of treating throat disorders and cough. To do so, we could simply crush the leaves to release the essential oil found in the leaves.

Lemon myrtle leaf.

If you would like to test your knowledge of plants, here is the quiz to put you to a challenge: Name the plant which the pod and the seeds (see photo below) came from. I will reveal the answer at the end of this post.

Name the plant that this pod and the seeds came from.

At the Royal Botanic Gardens, I could not help but to take notice of the fruit bats hanging upside-down on the branches of the trees. These fruit bats are harmless and feed on fruits only. They may be noisy at times however.

Can you spot the fruit bats?


Other than the fruit bats, we saw cockatoos near a huge fig tree. If we were to be attentive enough, we would also catch sights of ibis, spiders and more. Our guide shared with us how the indigenous Aboriginal people make good use of the silken threads spun by spiders.

I learnt more about the heritage of the indigenous Aboriginal people from this tour while my mother enjoyed herself learning about the medicinal benefits and uses of the various plants. This tour had also helped me better appreciate the wisdom of the indigenous Aboriginal people. They are people who love Nature and have incredible knowledge of the land.

There were a lot more plants and interesting sights that we saw while we were on the tour. If this post has gotten you interested in Aboriginal heritage, do consider making time for this interesting tour.

Before the conclusion of the tour, our talented guide, Leon, treated us to a music performance by playing the didgeridoo. I have found it a meditative experience listening to the didgeridoo performance. Excellent tour, healing music and a scenic walk about the Royal Botanic Gardens. These made me feel contented and grateful that very day.

Aboriginal Heritage Tours
When: 10 a.m. Fridays - 1.5 hours (bookings essential)
Where: Tours depart from the Information Booth outside the Garden Shop at the Palm Grove Centre
Cost: $33 per adult, $16.50 per student/child (as of May 2011)
Bookings and enquiries: Tel: (+61) 2 9231 8134

The meeting point: Information Booth outside the Gardens Shop.

Answer to the quiz: Did you get it correct?
Castanospermum australe (Moreton Bay Chestnut or Blackbean)
Beware, the fresh raw seeds contain high levels of saponins and can be harmful when eaten when unprocessed. To turn the seeds into edible food sources, the indigenous Aboriginal people would collect the seeds, sliced them finely, soak them in water for ten days, roast them and then grind them into flour.

My visit to Sydney, May 2011
All the photos on this post were taken using a Canon Digital IXUS 1000HS camera.


kyh said...

thanks for the lovely tour. those animals r so cute! :)

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Kyh: You are most welcome. Thank you for your regular visits.