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noongar six seasons

In Keeping with Kambarang


In Keeping with Kambarang

The wildflowers are here at last. A sign of Spring and the Noongar season of Kambarang, we here in Western Australia are blessed to witness this season of birth with an array of colours and scents emanating from wildflowers growing in gardens, fields and along walkways. People from all over the world visit W.A just to see this spectacle and to enjoy the mild climate of Perth and its surrounds.

Most importantly, many come to try the best food that this region of Australia has to offer. There is no better time on the Noongar calendar to enjoy freshwater shellfish and water fowl than during Kambarang. The south west Australian native, Marron, is in abundance throughout Kambarang and Birak. Its sweet, delicate flesh pairing perfectly with an emulsion dip made with native lemongrass and desert limes. Fresh water crayfish, like Gilgies and yabbies, are also a treat.

And of course, as the rain recedes and the Christmas tree (Moodja) start to blossom, there is also an abundance of native game, much of which was traditionally hunted and is now protected. Game birds and their eggs, including squab, pigeon, water fowl and cockatoo as well as kangaroo, frogs and turtles were all eaten as the Noongar people moved from inland wetland areas back towards the coast. We will feature a blog post and recipe soon about the very special Magpie goose....... something different to try as we approach Christmas perhaps? This is also the perfect season for what many aboriginal communities consider to be a delicacy - Bardi grubs.  They have a delicate almond taste when roasted and are a big favourite with bush food fanatics who know where to find them.

Many of the different native wildflowers and fruits are used in the RiverMint kitchen during Kambarang. On the menu are pickled and candied Quandongs, Jarrah flower honey, Moodja flower syrup, Peppermint gum (Wonil) infused olive oil, Wattleseed bread, Boab ice cream and aniseed myrtle roasted yams and tubers. It is an exciting time for experimenting in the kitchen. So get your hands of some of the best ingredients the Noongar season of Kambarang has to offer and start cooking!


The Season of Djilba


The Season of Djilba

There's a change in the air. The windy, cold and rainy days are slowly giving way to warmer sunny days. We can see the Willy Wagtails emerging slowly and scattered plots of white and pastel flowers are starting to bloom. The pale pink Boronia flowers are also starting to shine. And don't forget to take cover - Djilba is also magpie (Koolbardi) season so they will be swooping if you get to close to their nests! 

The season of Djilba is well and truly here. To the Noongar people this is a transitional season, the season of conception.  People and animals alike are starting to venture further out of their homes to bask in the warm sunshine and prepare for the upcoming explosion of colour that is wildflower season, Kambarang. Traditionally this was also the season when the Noongar people inland started to move back towards the coast in preparation for the warmer months.

Djliba is a good time to start preparing garden beds for planting native edibles as the soil warms up during the day. Be aware though that the nights are still pretty clear and cold.

In the kitchen, ingredients are still somewhat limited and not in such abundant supply as they are in other seasons like Djeran and Kambarang. Emu and their eggs are still a great source of protein, as is Kangaroo meat. The Pearl meat harvest has also started in Broome and paired with ripe Blood limes (or Red centre limes), this delectable meat is the perfect interlude to the return of fresh, in-season seafood.

Other ingredients to experiment with during the season of Djilba include the eponymous Bush tomato (Kutjera). It's a fantastic ingredient that is in severely short supply at the moment. If you manage to get your hands on some, be frugal! Bush tomato can be used in dips, as a marinade or rub with kangaroo and also turned in fantastic sauces and condiments or added to scones and breads.

Then of course, if you are lucky enough to have access to some Emu Plum trees (Podocarpus Drouynianus), the fruit can be seen growing, especially throughout the Karri and Jarrah forests along the Bibbulmun Trail. Although reasonably tasteless, Emu Plum, which is the largest native fruit to be found in the South West, has a stunning colour that can compliment the plate up of any seasonal dessert.

The white and pale pink flowers of the West Australian native, Geraldton Wax, are in flower everywhere now.  Here's a simple recipe using Geraldton Wax. This is a RiverMint Dining favourite and is aways a hit with clients as the cuttings provide a subtle piney but nutty flavour to the cooked cream. After quickly blanching some sprigs of Geraldton Wax in boiling water, follow the recipe below to make your own native inspired dessert:

Geraldton Wax Set Creams          Serves 6
650ml whipping cream
2 tbsp grated lime zest
1 tbsp lime juice
10 sprigs Geraldton wax (with flowers if possible), blanched quickly in boiling water
130g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
A pinch of salt
4 x gold gelatin leaves, soaked in cold water for 2 mins and squeezed out.

1. Place the blanched sprigs into a saucepan with the cream. Bring to a gentle simmer, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add lime zest and juice, salt and vanilla. Simmer one minute longer. Then set aside for 1-2 hours to infuse.

2. Bring cream mixture back to the boil, stirring frequently until the cream bubbles up almost to the rim of the pan. Take off the heat and remove the Geraldton Wax sprigs. Add the softened gelatine leaf, stir until completely dissolved, then strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring jug. 

3. Let cool slightly before pouring into ramekins or small dessert glasses. Refrigerate for four hours or until set. Can be garnished with crystallised Geraldton Wax flowers and Geraldton wax syrup.

Let us know what you think if you try out this recipe and enjoy the sunny mild days of Djilba.









The Season of Makuru


The Season of Makuru

The cold and wet season is upon us, though the sun still loves to shine, mixing with sporadic showers to create beautiful rainbows across the winter sky.

Makuru is known by the Noongar people as the season of the first rains and fertility. Bird species such as Ravens (Wardong) and the Black Swan (Mali) increase in numbers and quieten down for the breeding season. This was also the time that Noongar people traditionally moved further inland to hunt and the diet was meat heavy as opposed to seafood, including emu (Weitj), bandicoots (Quenda)  and possum (Koomal).

Towards the end of Makuru, around late July, residents in the suburb of Peppermint Grove will no doubt notice the white flowers of the peppermint gums that line the verges, emitting a beautiful fragrance and appearance. Tea tree and fungus are also is great abundance in the southern regions.

Kangaroo (Yonga)  was an important source of food and materials during Makuru,  with its bones being used for tools and scrapers, tendons for bindings and ties and the famous skins used to make coats.

There is so much to learn about the Noongar seasons and culture and the best way to do this is to take part in one of the excellent tours and workshops held by respected Noongar elders in Perth and throughout Western Australia. The following businesses and tour operators are just a few of the suggestions we have here in the Perth Metro area and we highly recommend them to all those who want to learn more about culture, Australian history and the six seasons.

Bindi Bindi Dreaming: Marissa Verma does some great cultural workshops and will also introduce you to the Yonga Booka, a coat made from kangaroo skins turned inside out during this cold wet season. She makes some tasty native treats as well.

Indigenous Tours WAJoin respected elder Dr Noel Nannup and son Greg Nannup on a journey through Wadjuk country. Learn more about the their culture, traditions and spiritual links between land and sea, discover Fremantle's early indigenous history, or tour King's Park to learn more about bush food and medicine.

Wangi Mia, Yanchep National Park: One of our favourite places for reflection and learning, Yanchep National Park is the perfect place for a family day out. To discover more about Wadjuk culture, the tools and instruments such as the didgeridoo, visit the charismatic and very funny Derek Nannup at Wangi Mia.

Urban Indigenous:  An award winning private tour operator at both a corporate and educational level, Rebecca Casey and Ron Bradfield along with a truly fantastic team of guides and story tellers, share culture and challenge stereotypes with their workshops and tours with passion and a deep understanding of Aboriginal culture.

Go Cultural: Taking place at Elizabeth Quay, Perth, Go Cultural is the newest aboriginal experience available to those wanting to learn more from those with deeper connections to land and culture. Dreamtime stories, spiritual songs and an introduction to hunting and cooking implements are all part of the experience conducted by traditional owner of Nyungar Boodja, Walter McGuire.

Here's to enjoying these cold wet days and celebrating what the season of Makuru has to offer. We would love to hear more about your experiences and learning through tours like the above.