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Issue 4, Oct-Nov 1997


Wattles and Marathons

Peter Lewis

N.D. H.M.D. J.P. (Qual)

My wife, Lyn Gordon-Lewis, has been the State Ultra-Marathon champion not once but twice. She has represented Queensland in Race Walking and Cross Country 5 times. She\ holds several State records and is known affectionately as Queensland's Mountain Queen as she has represented Australia 4 times in mountain runs.

Hard training is part of Lyn's great success but without sensible nutrition she would have broken down, as has happened to so many athletes. Thirty years after her first competition, Lyn continues crushing records in her stride.

Black Wattle. Acacia decurrens, is part of her nutrition regime. Black Wattle appears to help in the relief of symptoms of ineffective destruction of worn out red blood corpuscles as well as ineffective formation of antibodies.

Black Wattle flower heads without the stalk can be collected in considerably large quantity and transformed into wonderful delicacies by adding them to pikelets, scones, bread or cake. Wattle flower in scrambled eggs, home made soup or in your stuffing with roast chook is also a simple and delicious way to en|oy this native. The possibilities are as unlimited as your imagination.

I have found Wattle flowers help in the relief of symptoms of general debility, inflammation, disturbances of the small intestines and, in some cases, low blood sugar.

Wattle root should be prepared as a decoction in the following manner: A ratio of 30 gms of root to 500 mis of water, 200 mis of the water cold, to stand in a teapot overnight or approximately 12 hours. Drain the water off into another container. Place the root in a saucepan with the remaining water, place on a stove and allow to boil. Once it has been brought to the boil, simmer for 12 minutes (have the lid on). Combine hot and cold decoction and your tea is ready. Wattle root has a distinctive mellow flavour which should not be ruined with sweetener or milk.

Theraputically, I have observed that Black Wattle root assists in the relief of symptoms of a sluggish bowel, melancholy moods, muscular debility, pains made worse by cold air and aggravation by noise.

I have observed the best time to gather Black Wattle root is prior to flowering. For storage, bake on a low heat for approximately 1 hour. Young rootstock is preferred over its older kin.

As with anything, don't over-indulge. This should be used as a supplement only. Some people may not be able to have Wattle at all because of allergies. Sensible discretion must be used at all times.

Peter Lewis

N.D. H.M.D. J.P. (Qual).

13 Timbendge Court WAMURAN

QLD 4512

Phone (07) 5496 6437

Indigenous Roasts

Get creative with Wallaby and Possum

How many restaurants offer indigenous meats prepared any other way than pan fried? Not many that I know of, yet there is so much more that can be done with some of our wonderful native meats.

Take wallaby and possum, for example. Both are only produced in Tasmania but are available through selected distributors throughout the country. Both are ideal for roasting, braising, spit roasts, ragouts or any long slow cooking to capitalise on their unique flavours.

Tasmanian wallaby can be purchased as whole bane in hind quarters (weighing about 3 kg), legs or saddles (both weighing about 1 kg). This makes them an ideal size for a roast and offers all sorts of interesting presentation opportunities.

One of the most striking is a spit roasted wallaby hind quarter. Spit roast a meat with virtually no fat? You may wonder if this is possible but it certainly can be done. Simply baste the meat heavily with an oil herb mix and wrap the body withalfoil for the bulk of the cooking period. The end product is truly delightful.

Possums are smaller and require different cooking techniques to wallaby. Possum average around 2 kg in size and although they have their own unique flavour the meat is somewhat similar to rabbit. One of the best ways to cook possum is braising. The Red Ochre chain for example, prepare a delightful dish by braising possum in red wine and ground pepper leaf for four to six hours with a selection of root vegetables. The remaining fluid is reduced into a thick rich sauce to complete the dish.

Other chefs to have used possum with great success include Cheong Liew of the Adelaide Hilton. His Ragout of Possum with Root Vegetables and Basil Noodles scored a very honourable mentioned in the Gourmet Traveller. Wallaby and possum are available through select distributors in each state. For more information contact Lenah Game Meats on (03) 63 267696 or fax (03) 262790. For innovative chefs interested in exploring our wonderful indigenous meats, wallaby and possum present great opportunities.

Wild Tastes

Producers of fine indigenous meats - Lenah Wallaby, the Veal of Kangaroo & Possum: the King of Game Meats. Distributors of indigenous and game products.

Lenah Game Meats

PO Box 294 Mowbray 7248

TASMANIA Ph: 03 63267696 Fax: 03 63262790

Bush Foods in History Series 3 - honey from native bees

Compiled by Pat and Sim Symonsbee

Our native bee is a stingless bee that will bite (a nip) and annoy if provoked. Of all the native bees in Australia, the most commonly known are from the Trigona genus and the two most common of these are Trigona australis and Trigona carbonaris. The bees live as far south as central New South Wales and extend into Cape York. Northern areas appear to have more species. There are over 14 recognised bee species. Others include Amegilla species and Xylocopa species.

The taste of the honey produced by these little bees is described in our history as sweet, sour...or either inferior or superior to the honey of the English bee. There is a difference of opinion amongst the early observers.

John Mathew, when writing for E.M.Curr's "The Australian Race" (published in 1887), observed the people living in the Mary River District of S.E. Queensland. In regards to the honey, he notes that "..honey, the product of the native bees, was a favourite article of diet (of the local Aboriginal people). There are two varieties, gil'la and ka'wai. The former was the more common, the latter more esteemed. In the appearance of the bees there is little difference. Both sorts are much like a house fly in colour, but about half as large. They make a buzz just audible. The envelope containing the honey is like a cluster of small bags of irregular size and shape. Gil'la is often very thin, and both sorts I believe have a sourish fermented taste if the hive be exposed to the sun. Kaw'ai more resembles the honey of our domestic bee, but it is not equal to it in flavour..."

Tom Petrie of Brisbane remembers native honey in his reminiscences of early colonial life in Brisbane. This information was collected by his daughter and published in 1904.

"There were two kinds of native honey. One called "kabbai" was pure white and very sweet, and was found in small, dead hollow logs. "Ku-ta" was dark honey found in any kind of tree. It was much more plentiful than the other. My father gave the latter name to the Government for the hill near One-tree Hill (in Brisbane) as in the old days, that was a great place for native honey, and it has been mispronounced and spelt "Coot-tha".

Of course when the English bees came, their honey was taken too. James Craig and Ludwig Leichhardt report varied opinions on the taste of honey. In May 1876, on a visit to Cunningham's Gap, west of Brisbane, James Craig wrote in his diary,

"Went with the blacks today, who were chiefly after honey. They got three nests of English bees in hollow trees, which filled a tub. The English bee has multiplied here.

and the native bee. in proportion, has died away. Told by the blacks that the English bee always has its honey in large limb of tree, whereas the native bee has its in small branch. The indigenous bee has no sting, and its honey is far superior to that of the English bee..."

Ludwig Leichhardt. wrote to his friend Lt R. Lind in Sydney from the Woodford district of S.E. Queensland in September 1843 that "particularly agreeable to them (local Aboriginal people) is the honey with which the little stingless bee provides them amply. You have no idea of the number of bees' nests which exist in this country. My blackfellou. uho accompanies me at present, finds generally three of four of them daily, and would find many more if I gave him full time to look for them. They do not find these nests as the blackfellows in the Liverpool Plains; they do not attach a down (feather) to the legs of the little animal; but their sharp eye discovers the little animals flying in and out of the opening even sixty and more feet high.

Honey From Native Bees

"Me rnillmill bull,' (I see a bees' nest) he exclaims, and. so saying, he puts off his shirt. takes the tomahawk, and up he goes. If in a branch, he cuts (it) off the tree and enjoys the honey on the ground. If it is in the body of the tree, he taps at first with the tomahawk to know the real position, and then he opens the nest. The honey is sweet, but a little pungent There is besides the honey, a kind of (by bee-bread, like gingerbread, which is very nourishing). The part in which the grub lives is very acid. The blackfella destroy s every swarm of which he takes the honey. It is impossible for him to save the young brood...'

In the extensive work "The Queensland Aborigines" published 1897 by W. Roth, he wrote of the honey or "Sugar-bag" found in the area covering the Queensland Gulf Country, south to Birdsville and west to the NorthernTerritory (including the Cloncurry, Upper Diamentina, Boulia and Upper Georgina Districts.

"Honey..is found-especially along the river courses, except perhaps the Upper Mulligan, and obtained by one or other of the following methods. Its location in the particular tree is tracked during the winter time, by watching carefully for the minute pellets of dung lying on the ground around the butt; in the summer months, by observing the bees going in and out of their nest; and at the occasion by putting the ear down to some natural orifice at the base of the tree, and listening for the insect's hum and buzz. The trunk is often tapped with the fingers or with a stone for indications of a hollow core: a likely situation fora nest.

When the nest has been discovered, the limb may be removed bodily, or the tree climbed...to remove the honey from out of the cavity, either the hand or a stick is inserted: this is swept round and round to prevent the glutinous mass from dropping off, somewhat after the style of a spoon with some thick syrup on it. A bee is known as ool-lo in the Bouiia District, bung-go in the Cloncurry: honey in the latter is koong-ga."

As mentioned by Leichhardt, the native bee, its hives and honey were abundant in coastal subtropical Queensland. This was prior to the introduction of the European bees in the 1860's. Other early European visitors also observed this. Alan Cunningham wrote in his journal in June 1828 that when he was exploring the Brisbane River upstream near the Bremer...

"everything they saw about our person they coveted; particularly our hats, which, by the signs they signified, would be very useful to them to carry wild honey in, which they obtain in abundance from hollow trees in this part of the country..."

John Uniake, who accompanied John Oxley during his 1823 expedition to the Brisbane area noted...

"These tribes are distinguished from each other by the different colours they use in painting their bodies. Those on the north side blacken themselves all over with charcoal and bee's wax, which, with wild honey, they procure in abundance."

Encouraging awareness of the native bees and their honey, is the Australian Native Bees Research Centre, P.O. Box 74A North Richmond,

N.S.W. 2754.



Arousseau, M. The Letters ofF. W. Ludwig Leichhardt. Cambridge, 1968.

Craig, James. Diary of a Naturalist. 1875/76. Unpublished

Heard, T Establishment and Propagation of Hives of the Stingless Bee Trigona carbonaria. University of Queensland

Matthew. John, in Curr, E.M. The Australian Race. Melbourne, Government Printer. 1887.

Petrie. C. Tom Petrie's Reminiscences of Early Queensland, 1904. Queensland Classics edition. Angus and Robertson. 1983.

Roth, W.E. The Queensland Aborigines Vol I. First published in 1897. Fascimile Edition. Perth. Hesperian Press. 1984.

Protecting New Bushfood Varieties

with PBR (Plant Breeders Rights) PBRpbr

Nik Hulse, Plant Breeders Rights, Office, Canberra

Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) is a form of intellectual property protection which provides certain exclusive rights to the breeders of new plant varieties. These rights are covered by legislation under the Plant Breeders Rights Act 1994 (PBR Act). A breeder may lodge an application and have their variety assessed for compliance with the PBR Act. If successful, the applicant has rights which cover the commercialisation, import and export of the variety.

The purpose of PBR is to promote investment in the breeding and development of new plant varieties by offering the owners of a variety control over the commercialisation of their variety fora limited period (normally 20-25 years). At the same time, public interest is preserved by allowing free use of these varieties for further breeding and private use.

The Plant Breeders Rights Scheme has had a long association with bushfood varieties. The first variety to be protected under the plant variety legislation was a Macadamia in 1988. Since then a number of other bushfood varieties have been protected or are currently in the process of obtaining rights. These include Santalum, Apium, Kunzea and Micocitrus varieties.

To be eligible for PBR, a variety must have an identifiable breeder. As a minimum, discovery along with selective propagation, is required to demonstrate that breeding effort has occurred. The variety cannot simply be a discovery from the wild. The new variety must also be novel, distinct, uniform and stable from all other known varieties. Novelty is satisfied if the variety has not been sold in Australia for more than 12 months. Distinctness, uniformity and stability are evaluated by testing the variety, in a scientifically conducted trial, against the most similar varieties currently available. Almost most all characteristics of a plant can be used to demonstrate the existence of anew variety. As a minimum a new variety must be significantly distinct in at least one character from all other similar varieties.

Bushfoods are unique as, often, the species is not well known and may have never been previously commercialised. Consequently, it is often difficult to determine appropriate similar varieties for comparison. Generally, the variety should be compared to the described species and population from which it originated.

The development of new bushfood varieties provides great opportunities for plant breeders. The major food crops, such as wheat and barley have been cultivated for thousands of years. Consequently new varieties tend to be minor, although important, improvements on earlier varieties. However, the potential of many bushfoods is yet to be realised. With active breeding programs it is likely that many large and rapid improvements may be possible in some species. The types of characteristics that a breeder may try to improve are many and varied. For example a Quandong breeder may be striving for larger fruit, higher yield, better taste or earlier maturity.

With PBR a breeder has the ability to protect their investment in time, effort and money in developing the new variety. Applying for PBR is largely an economic decision. If the variety is likely to offer good returns then some form of protection is desirable to maximise the success of commerciali>a-tion. There are alternatives to PBR. Contracts, such as non-propagation agreements, cannot be used to restrict the avaiiabilty of the variety to licenced growers. However, without PBR. there are no restrictions on commercialisation by a third party if they were to obtain the variety.

Currently the fees for obtaining PBR are around S2000 - with an annual renewal fee of S300. Other costs may vary, depending on the level of involvement by the applicant. Most applications for PBR are prepared by the applicant (or their agent) without the need to use a Patent Attomey.

A qualified person who is accredited with the PBR office is also required to conduct a comparative trial and prepare a description of the variety. For a small fee the applicant may apply for accreditation as a qualified person and, if accepted, can act on behalf of their own applications. Alternatively, there are over 200 consultant qualified persons throughout Australia available on a fee for service basis. Consultant fees vary widely from several hundred to several thousand dollars per variety largely depending on the type of plant and the level of involvement of the consultant. The PBR office has no involvement in determining the fees charged by consultants.

The average time from lodgement of an application to grant is 2.5 years with a minimum of about 9 months. For some plant types, such as fruit trees, it may be as high as 6 or 7 years because of the requirement to conduct a comparative trial and collect information on fruit characteristics. However, once an application is lodged and accepted into the scheme the variety is under provisional protection which means that it can be commercialised while the trial is being conducted. Provisional protection provides full rights to the variety except that any legal action for infringement can not be initiated until full rights have been granted. However, any legal action can be retrospective to include the period in which the variety was under provisional protection

Further Information

Further information and advice can be obtained from:

Plant Breeders Rights Office, Department of Primary Industries and Energy

GPO Box 858 Canberra ACT 2601 Phone: 02 6272 4238 Fax: 02 6272 3650

Web site:

http:www.dpie.gov.au/ agfor/pbr/pbr.html

Profile: Oliver Carter: Mr Lilly Pilly

lillypillyA gentleman - and a scholar.

Spending a day with Oliver Carter is a little like taking an intensive course in an exotic language - you come away with a brainful of information, a smattering of understanding and a keen desire to come back and make the unfamiliar somehow familiar and easy.

Oliver is based in a comfortably unkempt research centre-cum nursery in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.

Here, literally thousands of potted plants fill a small area in what seems a haphazard gathering - on closer inspection there is some method to the madness and Oliver himself wanders through the maze with such precision that you cannot help but believe that he has carefully placed each pot for some reason which will become clear.

Plant comforts are paramount. Creature comforts are scarce. No office, no chairs, telephone, fridge, shade or other concessions to the 12 hour days he spends in his centre; for our interview we sat on a plank balanced on two besser blocks. His lunch was an old fashioned thermos of tea (mislaid and then refound amongst the pots).

What is this man doing? I asked myself as I tried to find a spot for my tripod. Oliver Carter is a name which is quietly revered amongst a small but growing group of bushfoodies and others who have met him. His devotion and generosity are legend and his research is a matter for great speculation. But what is he doing? Part of the answer to that can be found in his collection of plants. Oliver has the largest collection of Syzygium in Australia. There are 52 named Syzygium spp in Australia (some of which also grow naturally overseas) and there are between 500 and 550 spp. worldwide. Their main centre is SE Asia. Oliver has about 65 of the spp all up (he is, sadly, missing Syzygium amplum, found only on Murray Island north of and possibly on Cape York Peninsula, within around 100m of sea level - can anyone help us find it?)

He is selecting them, making cuttings, grafting, hybridising and studying. He is making copious notes, refining, documenting and searching for - well, I guess you could call it "the perfect fruit'.

Along the way, he is spreading an enormous amount of information to almost anyone who has the sense to talk to him. Like so many in this industry, Oliver wants to share the work he has done - the good, the bad and the disastrous.

Amongst his notes are meticulous records of the psyllid susceptibility of the various species. Psyllids are flying insects about the size of the larger species of blood sucking midges, though their bodies are a bit more solid. Both adults and nymphs suck sap from the young leaves, stems and both vegetative and flower huds of susceptible species. In a heavy infestation, all new growth may be severely distorted or killed. This can be a repeated occurrence.

Ask Oliver what he's doing and he'll say "Mucking around with lilly pillys" but a guided tour through his centre quickly makes it clear that he's doing much more than that. His hybridisation program would put centres with ample funding to shame. Much of his work is being done with Syzygium suborbiculare and with S. sp Hinchinbriik Island.

His aims - a larger and tastier fruit and insect and disease resistance. He is also trying to put coloured flowers on otherwise white flowered species. I for one can testify that his S suborbiculare and sub species forte has excellent fruit.

Oliver's other great passions are Hibiscus, Ficus, Ipomoea, Dioscorea and some Solanum - and he doesn't ban a plant because of its country of origin. I visited Oliver in the company of contributor Colleen Keena who will continue to write about our splendid and colourful native hibiscus.

Oliver is a master of cutting taking - seeming to know just the right time and the right plant to take cuttings from and how to get even the most difficult to 'take'.

Led into the incredibly steamy inner sanctum of his hot house, I tread softly through narrow rows of small cuttings which one dared not touch. The names tumbled out too quickly for my note taking and every species had some comment attached -"Puberulum - cannot grow in full sun. Canicortex - keep it moist.

Podocarpus - it will take 12 months to root and twelve months to settle and then it will start to grow. Kang Kong, S. argyropedieum. 4N. Male. I treated this one as one would treat someone with gout I gave it some colchicine. I submerge a small plant or the growing tip in a solution of colchicine in water and this made the leaves bigger - double the chromosomes in the cell and you make the leaves bigger. Now this is true for some plants but there are no guarantees. It's a matter of trial and error. Some plants - even some of the Syzygium

are actually weakened by chromosome doubling.

A gyropedicum - when I got it I thought I should be able to get that stem in half and get two plants - and succulent fruit. Edibility unknown. Syzygium eucalyptoides, Syzygium cumini or S curanni has the better fruit of the two. Both are exotic.

I would like to hybridise the two species - S. cumini and S. aromaaticaum, which is the Clove Tree. As soon as I get it established, I'll take cuttings. Solanum centrale - went to a lot ot trouble to get it - bought seed and could not get them up. Here's the native Sesbania cunnabina - it's got enormous potential for excellent fibre - for industrial uses and perhaps for paper and textiles. Fast growing native - likes heaps of water. Marsdenia viridiflora - edible fruit and tuber. And here's the hybrid S. eucalyptoides x S. suborbiculare - the first cross tends to be polyembryonic - don't know why. I use Eucalyptoides in most of my crosses because it flowers profusely and sets fruit prolifically and it's easy to emasculate - just before dusk. Some of the others are very difficult - flowers unfold different times, depending on whether it's cold or dark or wet. S. sp Hinchinbrook Island is also good to work with because its stigma is not receptive to pollen for one or perhaps two days after its flowers open. Some other species arc receptive, even before the bud opens.

After the extended field trip through his research area we sat on the plank for a cuppa and a chat. Oliver is not only too modest about the work he is doing but also too generous in imparting his techniques and results.

Even if I fully understood the 'N' and the process of adding chromosomes to a species I would hesitate to publish details. Sufficient to say he is beginning to have some results which we in the bushfood industry will benefit from.

As though I hadn't gained enough during my visit, Oliver thrust a 6" pot into my hand. A dwarf Davidsonia - 8" high and ready to flower. He also gave me some stern advice,

"Drainage, drainage, drainage - keep it in a straight sided pot and it doesn't like sun."

I also got a hint which may bring a smile to those who have infestations of the Tobacco tree. "Tamarillos have a root system which is attacked by eel worms (nematodes) but the tobacco tree is resistant to this pest so - graft your Tamariilo onto it."

Being someone who has tried with mixed success to keep the tobacco trees under control and my Cyphomandra betacea upright when mature, I was thrilled to get this snippet and have already begun my first graft.

As for emasculation of Syzygium eucalyptoides at dusk. I may leave that to Oliver.


From the Editor

Choosing Acacia Species for Bushtucker

Harvest and Post Harvest

A walk In the Park

The Southern Bushfoods Association

Acacia ~ research, field trials and databases

Kangaroo Meat

Extracts from 'The Bushfoods Handbook' - Vic Cherikoff

Bush Foods in History Series 3 - honey from native bees

Notes: Acacia - John Mason

Wattles and Marathons

Tucker & Timber: Integrating Bushfoods

Bush food plants of western Queensland

Bunyas and the whole farm plan - John King

Products & People: Basically Wild Edible Art

Protecting New Bushfood Varieties

Profile: Oliver Carter: Mr Lilly Pilly

Book Reviews

DOOR Marketing

Tasting Australia





Indigenious Roasts

From the Bookshop

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