Top Bush Tucker Foods of Illawarra

Help Food Diversity

Although there are thousands of food species in the world, most people get most of their calorific intake from just 3 different food plant species, wheat, rice and corn.

This alarming decline in diversity of food species is also happening in our bio-region. The Illawarra is a spectacularly abundant micro-climate and fast loosing native food knowledge and species.

The Pallate vs Plot Paradox

Most people prefer to eat what they have grown up learning to eat. Many foods are comforting and full of memories. Food is a cultural experience. But the lands that people have settled upon are mostly not used to growing those foods. And mother nature is struggling to do her best to grow these foreign foods.

Must nature always grow what we like to eat? 
Lets try what she likes to grow

The only way to preserve rare food species is to celebrate them, grow them and eat them. Our mission at Mt Kembla is to supplement what we like to eat with foods that nature wants to offer. And here’s the bonus – if you are keen to grow some bush tucker it is worth a lot more than regular food. There is a hungry market niche for rare foods.

Our Top Bush Tuckers

  1. Finger Lime – Many of our friends hunger for this fruit. It performs well if grown on the edge of a forest. It needs a little direct sunlight to form fruits.
  2. Macadamia – the visiting children have learnt when they are ready to eat. They have a devoted smashing station made with two rocks. They look for slight blemishes on the shells. The pattern is mottled like a leopard skin. This develops when the fruit has fallen away and the nut has matured.
  3. Native Raspberry – we select to grow the less seedy fruits. They deliciously tart and fruit nearly all year around but most importantly they are fruit over winter.
  4. Dianella – Wollongong Uni Innovation Campus has the best we have ever tasted. And hardly anyone knows to eat them. These look stunning and taste great.
  5. Walking-Stick Palm – small but delightful and easy to pick.
  6. Anniseed Myrtle – Fantastic leaves for herb tea.
  7. Sandpaper Fig (the skin is tough like a kiwifruit and the flesh is sweet). This grows to be a huge tree – so make sure it is not going to block the sun coming to your home or over your neighbours house. It is an excellent street tree, giving shade to cars. It also helps to hold the bank of a local creeks or an area too steep for other uses. Why mow an area when something like a giant local will happily grow there.
  8. Native Rosella – the flowers are like a soft lettuce. This is a short-lived delicate shrub. Shrubs and understorey plants that are edible are hard to find in a permaculture system – so this is a must in our food jungle.
  9. Davidson Plum – strong bitter flavour, spectacular plant, erect and ferny with fine pastel pink flowers. It is also an understorey plant until it reaches maturity.  The fruits fall when they are ready so keep a layer of soft mulch underneath to pillow their fall.

    Brown sandpaper figs, blue davidson plums resting on limes and malay apples. Mt Kembla
  10. Sea grape – small fleshy fruits. Commonly grown in large areas like a steep bank.
  11. Native Orange – the skin is bitter but the flesh is perfumed and sweet. There is variation in the fruits on the single tree. This plant deserves to be cultivated and developed.
  12. Lilly Pilly – The best Lilly Pilly my family has tasted are ones that were growing in the carpark of MacArthur Square Shopping Centre. It grows happily here too. Search for varieties with big purple fruits
  13. Lemon Myrtle – good for herb tea and as a perfume. We were very happy for years with this Myrtle until we discover the Anniseed Myrtle. (Just personal taste).
  14. Blueberry Ash – These fruits look pretty but a bit skinny in comparison with Dianella.  A bonus is it fruits late in summer when other plants are having a rest.