Hi friends, family, and Mrs. Hill’s Class,
If you have been keeping up with our travels and blog you have seen how busy we have been with various different adventures!
On June 3rd, our adventures commenced at 6:30am with a breakfast of cereal and toast.
At 7:15am we traveled from Yungaburra up in the mountains down to Port Douglas on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The Port Douglas area is known to be the place where the rainforest and reef meet.
Once in town, we met up with Linc Walker for a Cultural Aboriginal tour. Linc along with one of his brothers use their ancestral knowledge to educate visitors on Kuku Yalanji culture. We toured a traditional fishing ground of the Kuku Yalanji Bama called Cooya Beach, a territory comprised of great biological diversity. On the tour we were exposed to beaches, mangroves, coastal reefs, tidal lagoons, and mudflats. Linc’s home is located across from Cooya Beach, so we left from his house and went to the beach where he taught us how to throw spears. To properly throw a spear, you put the pointer finger of your dominant hand on the non pointed end of the spear and your other hand extended as far down the shaft as possible. You then put all your weight on your back foot while aiming at your target and shift forward throwing the spear.
After, we walked down the beach where Linc pointed out various plants and their medicinal uses. Such plants included hibiscus flower used for tea, mangrove vine used as an anti inflammatory, and cooling leaf which relieves sunburn. We continued down the beach where we entered a mangrove mud flat which was the entrance to the spear hunting grounds. The mudflat contained a variety of different wildlife, like mangrove mussels. Once past the mudflats we were in shallow ocean water about calf deep where we could begin hunting for mud crabs. Mud crabs live in holes in the sand and in the crevices of the mangrove root systems. If you were not lucky enough to find a mud crab out in the open, you would stick your spear down the crab hole to draw them into clear water. Finding mud crabs was difficult because the water was often murky from everyone walking around and the crabs moved very quickly. A total of 14 crabs were caught throughout the two hours we were hunting. When we were done, we went back to Linc’s house where he cooked our crabs and mussels for us to eat. We were then allowed to try green ants. Green ants taste slightly sour when only licking them, but act as a cold remedy when smashed up and sniffed.
A few of the victorious hunters!
We were extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn to throw a spear, track coastal resources, and to go crab hunting, all while enjoying the other wildlife in the area thanks to the law passed in 1992. In 1992, the government passed a law called “Native Title” under Mabo which gave aboriginal people some of their land back and allowed them to hunt traditionally. The law said that aboriginal people were allowed to hunt what ever animal or sea creature they needed to sustain their lives or culture, even though it was illegal for non-aboriginals or any aboriginal outside of the territory to hunt on the land. A land use policy was also passed around the same time which forbid anyone to build on or near this beach. This allows anyone of Kuku Yalanji heritage to use the natural resources of the land. By passing these laws, the government gave aboriginal people the opportunity to reclaim and sustain their traditional culture.
Next we stopped at Daintree Ice Cream Company and enjoyed tropical fruit ice cream made from fruits grown locally at the adjacent farm. Since Daintree Ice Cream grows their own fruit, flavors of ice cream vary depending on the season. We had raspberry, mango, coconut, and wattleseed ice cream. Wattleseed is a native food and is a green and yellow plant. Australian athlete colors are based off of the wattleseed. While it seemed to be an interesting flavor, it actually tasted similar to hazelnut. By growing locally, the company helps the local economy and reduces the carbon footprint since they are not importing their products.
Finally the Steven Irwin inspired part of the day arrived! We got to go on the legendary Mangrove Croc Cruise. The cruise took place in Daintree National Park. During the tour we traveled through the mangroves starting from Cooper Creek’s Coral Sea Mouth, moving towards Queensland’s third largest mountain. While on the trip we saw a baby crocodile and a large female crocodile. The crocodiles we saw were Estuarine crocodiles, which are the largest of all living reptiles. Because our trip was later in the day, the air was cooler which meant the crocodiles moved into the water to stay warm. This did not allow us to view the entire body of the crocodile, but gave us a sufficient peak into their lives. Female crocodiles are territorial and stay within a one kilometer range for their entire lives. We also saw a few Egrets in flight and almost witnessed a crocodile eat one!
Looking at the sustainability of our day, we witnessed a day that incorporated all three pillars; economics, social/political, and environmental. When spear hunting with Linc Walker we were amidst culture sustainability and economically sustainability. The 1992 law allows for aboriginal people to continue their traditions and eat locally which saves money. At Daintree Ice Cream we once again saw the benefits of buying and eating local through economic and environmental sustainability since there was no cost or carbon footprint of importing ingredients. Lastly, although riding in a boat up and down a river is not environmentally sustainable, it allowed us to see what we would lose if human pollution does not subside. By seeing the mangroves and crocodiles we were able to see the complex environmental systems.
It was a very successful day in the Australian environment!
Aboriginal Tours- Insight about the tours offer by the Walker family and a glimpse into their culture.
Native Title- The law passed restoring native land to aboriginal people in Australia.
Daintree Ice Cream- The ins and outs of the ice cream company and what they do.
Wattleseed- The type of native fruit used in the ice cream which was once a staple in aboriginal people’s diet.
Crocodile Cruises- Background information about the cruise, including the route we took and information about the crocodiles.
Estuarine Crocodile- The largest reptile in the world which lives in the Australian mangrove system.