In 2020, it will be 250 years since Australia was ‘discovered’ by Captain James Cook. We now know that the land mass was already inhabited with more than 500 Aboriginal tribes. In fact, humans had been here for more than 60,000 years.
The First Nations have a tradition of using fire to burn vegetation. Known as ‘cultural burning’, the practice often takes place at night. The ‘cooler’ fires allow animals to escape, and protect the forest canopy. So the current bush fires burning out of control are especially alarming. But as the Guardian‘s Lorena Allam explains, the devastation is also personal – ‘It is burning up our memories, our sacred places, all the things which make us who we are.’
The original inhabitants of Western Australia are the Noongar people. In 2006, they received title to an area of 2,300 square miles, including the city of Perth. However, the State Government challenged the decision and won on appeal. In 2019, the Noongar then launched a compensation claim for more than £150 billion, in recognition of their loss of land and culture.
If you visit Western Australia, in search of incredible landscapes, sea, food and wine, take the opportunity to find out more about the ancient history and cultures of First Nations people. On a Bushtucker tour you’ll get to sample the foods, and find out about the medicines, that have been harvested from the land for thousands of years. Eat kangaroo and emu, bush tomatoes and, of course, Witchitty grubs, which feature as Dreamings in many Aboriginal paintings.
Find out more about food and drink in my feature on Western Australia.