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Bush Tucker

Depicted in this work are traditional types of bush tucker, their habitats, and their related hunting and gathering methods. During the pujiman (traditional, desert dwelling) period, Martu would traverse very large distances annually in small family groups, moving seasonally from water source to water source, and hunting and gathering bush tucker as they went. Whilst desert life has moved away from mobile hunter-gatherer subsistence throughout the course of the twentieth century, bush tucker continues to be a significant component of the modern Martu diet. Hunting and gathering bush tucker remains equally valuable as an important cultural practice that is passed on intergenerationally. Though hunting and gathering implements have been modernised, methods of harvesting, tracking and the use of fire burning to drive animals from their retreats are still commonly practiced today. 

Typically, animals hunted for their kuwiyi (meat) include kirti-kirti (euro kangaroo) and marlu (plains kangaroo), parnajarrpa (sand goanna), kipara (Australian bustard, bush turkey) and karlaya (emu). Lunki (witchetty grub) and wuukurta (honey ants) are dug from tree and bush trunks, or from underground nests. Popular mayi (plant food) includes minyarra (bush onion), collected from small, grass like plants; root vegetables dug from underground such as kulyu and mata (types of bush potato); and seeds such as kalaru (samphire, salt bush), yuwinyji, and marnkalpa (spinifex species). Jawirli (quondong), wamurla (bush tomatoes), jinyjiwirrily (wild gooseberry), ngaputa (melon), and karlkula (bush banana) are some of the most popular bush fruits. These are often collected in the wantajarra (cool season) and tuulpara (spring) months, along with juri (sweet) botanical gums and wama (nectar), obtained from various plant species. 

Traditional tools used for hunting and gathering bush tucker were carved from wanari (mulga), mulunturu (desert oak), yurungkura (river red gum) and mijarrpa (bloodwoods), and included kurlata (spears), jurna (hitting stick), karli (boomerangs), wana (digging-sticks), piti (timber bowls used for carrying food and water), and jiwa (grinding stones for grinding seeds into flour). While carved objects retain enormous social and ceremonial importance in Martu life, they are no longer used for hunting and gathering.

Name: Noreena Kadibil

Language: Putijarra

Community: Parnngurr


"My country is Kajarra between wells 6 and 9 on the Canning Stock Route. This is my dad’s country and my grandfather’s and grandmother’s country. I only paint my grandfather’s and grandmother’s country, that’s our traditional lands. Jigalong belongs to the mob. I have other country but there’s other people mixed up in it. Mum was born in Savoury Creek. My grandmother used to live in Jigalong before Old Jigalong got started. I paint pictures of my country to keep it safe and to show my kids how to look after it." "I grew up in Wiluna and on Lake Violet Station. We moved to Jigalong in 1969 after my father passed away. I moved to Parnngurr with five children in 1984 (Murphy was the youngest), there was too much humbug in town, it’s a quieter place out here." Noreena was taught by her parents and grandparents about her traditional lands and how to survive in the bush. She has passed on this knowledge to her kids and grandkids as well as teaching them how to paint. Her mother Daisy had been taken from her family as a child and placed in the Moore River settlement. The film Rabbit Proof Fence tells Daisy's story.

© the artist / art centre