We did a fantastic tour on Monday morning …. walked along Cooya Beach with Brandon and his brother Linc, learning some indigenous ways. Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours have been running for about twelve years, and, being school holidays, the brothers had almost 50 participants.
We met on the beach, not far from the small sugar-industry town of Mossman. Everyone chose a spear, and followed instructions learning to throw it! Soon we were walking through the shallow water, looking for crabs, rays, and shellfish.
Brandon showed me how to find cowrie shells by following their underwater trail, then digging them up. I got quite few, and later discovered how delicious they were.
Stuart saw a stingray, but it was too fast for his spear. Others had more luck with crabs.
Cowries, one of many edible shellfish that sustained our indigenous population for thousands of years.
Brandon leading us back to the mangroves. Look at the stunning mountains in the background, source of the water that maintains the rainforest.
Low tide, good hunting and gathering time.
Crabs and shellfish!
Next we all clambered through the mangroves, gathering oysters from their aerial roots, and digging mussels from the black mud at the base of the roots. Apparently mangroves are a safe place, somewhere that crocodiles and sharks avoid, so when canny fishermen throw a brach into the water at higher tide, the fish all swim out to see what is happening, making themselves easy targets for a spear!
The mussels were big. Later we ate them heated under the griller to open them, then tossed with garlic and olive oil …. yummy! Brandon also showed us bush food plants, and others for making string, or medicine. I guess living in this land for over 40,000 years gives our indigenous people a wealth of knowledge. If only we could listen!
Back at their house the brothers continued to educate us …. Brandon on preparing the seafood, and Linc gave a great talk about, and demonstration of, traditional artifacts and practises. Some of us clustered in the kitchen, others passed around boomerangs, woomera, turtle shells, musical instruments and more.