Eating out in Kakadu

Waterlily stems taste like celery, but sweeter. The seeds pop in your mouth!

Water lily stems are almost like celery, but sweeter. The seeds have a texture that pops in your mouth!

I tend to approach any new culture through food – and there’s no shortage of bush tucker in Kakadu. Traditional owners like Violet Lawson are so generous and passionate when it comes to sharing their knowledge and culture and I’ve had so much fun being introduced to what she and her family love to eat.

The green ants are sour and taste like lime!

The green ants are sour and taste similar to limes.

The thing I’ve learned about bush tucker – especially after watching Violet wading into the water to get some while I stood terrified on the bank – is that without knowing what you’re doing, collecting it can be downright dangerous. As well as snakes and crocodiles amongst the lilies, those green ants have a nasty bite!

There is, however, a bush food that I’ve been taught to make by Violet that is simple, delicious, and anyone can make – damper. It’s been an Australian staple for hundreds of years.

All you need is self raising flour, water, a bowl, and very clean hands. The trick to an amazing taste and texture is to cook the damper straight on nice warm coals.

Best served after a hard day’s exploring with lashings of sugarbag – honey made by native bees – and some strong billy tea.

Damper is best cooked straight on hot coals

Damper is best cooked straight on the coals – plus it saves on washing up!

Emily, seasonal ranger, Kakadu National Park

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