Survival Guide to Homelessness

No matter where you go, there you are.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Homeless in Australia

I just had a question from a reader about wild foods, bush tucker, in Sydney. I'm from California, and while I hate to be provincial, I have no idea what is growing in Australia. How can I advise someone on how to find bush tucker on a continent that boasts marsupials and crocodiles as its natural icons?

Hey, that reminds me of a story about the first Europeans to make landfall in Australia. I've heard they died of starvation with food all around them. Don't let that happen to you. You have to know enough to recognize the bounty at your feet. That's what this whole blog is about. Learning to have some insight into how a home and comfort are achieved, with or without societal assistance.

Rely on experts. Learn native skills. Listen to locals. Realize, though, that when someone is an expert on one thing, it doesn't make him an expert on everything. Think critically.


At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply re Sydney Australia.I just felt like throwing a rotten egg at someone to make me feel better.Homelessness can be so complex,the last thing you need is complex idiotic advice.
Anyway I would rather be homeless in Sydney with Australia's famous social security safety net than in America, God forbid.

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous teiso said...

Yeah, the real stupid thing about the first settlers is that the aborigines were eating bush tucker all around them, and all they had to do was watch and copy.

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your OP on what Aboriginals eat. It's a question that has perplexed me also as whenever I have been bushwalking, I have never seen any Australian Natives that looked like it could be a fruit or palatable in any way. So, I stumbled across a book in Borders in Parramatta in the Cookbook section on Aboriginal Foods and it shows locations, photos, how they prepared it etc.. The unfortunate reality is that it would be easier to go dumpster diving than to try and survive as Aboriginal's once did, at least in Sydney, that is.

At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"bush Tucker" really does not grow in Sydney friends. The aboriginal people were nomadic and knew the environment moving with the seasons and a long heritage of understanding. Most Australian native flora is not edible and needs to be prepared, plus probably not enough to sustain you. A lot of it is poisonous or at least will have undesirable consequences and if you eat some of the introduced species, you will be in trouble. A lot of the fauna is of course protected and can also carry diseases...needless to say finding a kangaroo, on which there is good eating, in a city and preparing it hygienically, cooking and such is out of the question and also cruel and illegal!

You can learn about "bush tucker" and you can eat it, but you will have to go a lot farther out than Sydney if you want to be a "bush tucker man".

At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is why we as Australians have a duty to grow indigenous plants so that we can learn and more importantly eat "bush tucker". We shouldn't lead the same ignorant and destructive lives that the colonial english settlers lived and more importantly we should embrace the original Australians' culture instead of dismissing it.

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No joke mate you would be better of being a Guerilla Gardener
of fruit and vegetables or a 'Jonny Appleseed'than a bush tucker man. Some bush tucker need to be soaked to remove poisons etc.

It can take many years to become knowledgable at recognising edible plants, which is why aboriginals and white bush tucker men where schooled in it from such an early age.

You can't just learn this stuff in a weekend! but gardening you can, packets of seed even have simple instructions on the back.

At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyday sees new homeless faces on the streets of my small California city. I guess if I was homeless, I'd want to come here too. The weather is mild and the tourists are generous.

Me? I'm blessed. I have a job (for now) and a place to stay (for now). But for how long? Statistics show that most are only a couple of paychecks away from homelessness. And with the current state of the economy, it's only getting worse. It seems the rich are getting richer, while the poor and homeless are getting younger. It's not right. It 's not fair!

I'm a photographer who is trying to change the world, starting with my community. And you can help:

Thank you for your vote!

ps. Thank you for all YOU do for our friends without homes!!

At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Traditional "bush tucker" is not readily available in Sydney, but other kinds of 'wild' foods are.

People often forget about the edible weeds that grow in varying quantities just about everywhere. Even if you have access to a good plot of neglected wasteland where the weeds have run riot it's unlikely that you'll find enough to stay in good health without having to look for other sites to pick over as well. That said, edible weeds offer a valuable source of 'fresh' food which shouldn't be ignored.

Most of the plants that are locally considered weeds originated from Europe where they have formed part of the diets of local people going back generations. There are a number of books available on the topic. If you can get some "bush tucker", then that's great, but failing that there's always the ring-ins to fall back on. Even something as basic as fennel grows 'wild' in just about every bit of suburban wasteland I've ever come across.

One thing you need to be very careful of is the possibilty that landowners or council workers have sprayed the weeds you intend to eat with poison. Foraging in areas that you are very familiar with (that you see daily) may help minimise this risk, and either way you should always wash your forage thoroughly using water from a source known to be clean.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

I know I'm commenting on a 4 year old entry, but:

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Le Loup said...

Like Thomas sais, this is an old post, but I do not see any up to date ones which is a pitty because this blog is not only interesting, but also useful to some people.

I know I know a lot about primitive skills and wilderness survival, but I would never call myself an expert. Not that I do not value the skills I have, I do, but there is always so much more to learn.

Regards, Le Loup.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

Interesting blog! I, like so many others have spent hours on here. I just had to comment on the reply to this question. I think Americans have a very romanticised view of aboriginal life as many of us have about your native Indians. Sydney is a large city and not bush, even in the middle of the bush Australia is not the easiest country to find bush tucker. As a previous poster said most of the bush food here is dangerous unless you know the exact process for preparation. The English who came even if they had learned these processes and slight differences between poisonous foods and safe, which takes an aboriginal many years to learn, even if they could miraculously done that there would not have been enough food for them and the resident aboriginal population! The aboriginals worked bloody hard for every meal and none were ever even slightly fat, living off our bush is not easy! Having said that if someone is too stupid to find food in Sydney they are really to stupid to live! There are so many places handing out untouched never left the kitchen restaurant leftovers, soup kitchens and welfare payments far more realistic that the American ones, plus there is no charity that will not hand out a grocery voucher or food to whoever is in need. Sorry about the aweful grammar, typing this on tiny screen and I can't be bothered to edit myself

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Le Loup said...

Most of the information on naive foods in Australia comes from the North. Finding food anywhere else is not so easy, & like someone here already said, some of these foods are toxic as is & need to be treated to be made edible.
In our 18th century living history group in Armidale NSW we study native flora for its many uses, so I know how hard these plants are to find, especially where stock have been grazing.
If anyone is interested in joining our group, membership is free.
Regards, Keith.


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