Kombumerri Traditional Custodian Contributor: Max Dillon

This resource is related to the following Learning Areas –

And responds to the following Enquiry Questions –

Q34.Did Indigenous people predict the weather and organise their lives according to the conditions? E.g. Wet season, food availability.
Q35.Where were the popular hunting grounds of the Kombumerri people and what did they catch or collect?
Q40.Were there any specific medicinal remedies that the Kombumerri People used?
Q65.Which plant materials or animal products were available to the Kombumerri people that assisted them in the creation of clothing, tools and other items? (types of trees used in this area).
Q67.How did the Kombumerri people transport food, water and belongings when moving from place to place?
Q68.What did the Kombumerri people eat? How did they grow it, gather it, harvest it? Who prepared the food?
Q70.Traditional foods – meals, rituals, eating times?

Resource transcript –

The big one… I suppose the number one for salt-water people is the paperbark, the tea tree, you know, for many different reasons but it’s like a number one medicine that covers a lot of things: stings, bites, the ability to breathe. You can smoke the paperbark. You also use it to wrap… you use the paperbark to wrap up your food. So, it’s also for safe food practices which is important especially in the bush with, you know, bacteria and things like this. So, the paperbark has that ability to keep food safe. Honey. Honey’s a big one, sugarbark honey and there’s more than one way to apply honey. It can be eaten, it can be digested or applied topically as an ointment. But also for wound repair. Wound repair is very important in the bush and keeping wounds clean. So, honey is used for applying into wound repair in a propolis which is a mixture of resin and beeswax and it’s applied over the wounds or cuts and it would… to help the wound repair. It’s also used for treatment of the eyes. Different parts of a sugarbark nest. There are parts within the hive that are for sore eyes. One that we do trade for that’s not on country is the gumbi gumbi. That’s a number one medicine in that particular part of Australia. It’s a western desert plant and it’s in the apricot family. I think there’s twenty species of native apricot and the one gumbi… there’s a few different types of gumbi but them old fellers know which one the gumbi, the number one, and that’s used from eczema to tumours, all types of things, even lowers blood pressure, helps with diabetes. These types of things. On the coastline there’s one that we use for bluebottle stings, we use for headaches and we use for stingray barbs, for the poison. It’s called… the common name is goat’s foot vine and it grows along the beach, it’s fairly common. It looks like a goat’s foot and how that’s applied if you’re stung by a bluebottle or a stingray or you have a headache, it’s a pain patch. So, you’d blister it with a flame and apply it to your skin. So, if you had a headache, if it’s on your front or the back or wherever it is, you apply it, you blister it with a flame and you apply it and it draws out the pain. Another one is lemongrass or barbed wire grass. It’s in the lemongrass family, Cymboptus refractus [Cymbopogon citratus / ambiguus], and it’s smoked to help with headaches, toothaches and women’s birthing and it gives you a feeling of euphoria and that’s still used today. Also, lemongrass has got more than… it’s not just a medicine but it’s also food resource and a herb and these are some of the things we use. I tend to look at three different things you can get from trees and plants and shrubs and they go into each other as well. You can have a food resource, you can have a resource for spears and practical things, useful things like trade things, fish nets these types of utilities or you can have medicine and some of these relate to each other. So, even poison… I should have said four. So, some of them are poisonous as well but some of the poisonous things can also be food. So, like cycads, they create… once they flower and they sprout up you get a type of bean or a nut on the cycads and the poison has to be leeched out but it’s also a food, food resource. Pandanus in some places in Australia are toxic so you have to leech the poison out to be able to get to the food and then you can also use parts of that pandanus for baskets. So, it’s on all four. It’s a food, it’s a resource, it can be a medicine and it’s toxic. So, those are the things that we have to find out about some plants. So, here on the coastline, our pandanuses aren’t poisonous but in other parts of Australia they are depending on where you go.