Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/117

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93
THE SEARCH FOR FOOD. PITTURI.

ur-ruk-ki-un, thriving on the mountain ranges; and a fourth small one, called the koo-jo, identical with the witooka of Boulia, which can be found pretty well everywhere. The ma-kor-a is identical with the mungaroo of the Boulia District; the roots of the ka-re-dil-la (sect. 111) are also very commonly eaten.

115. In the Leichhardt-Selwyn District, the Kalkadoon eat the Boerhaavia-root, known locally as wa-roo-po (the witooka of Boulia), the "nut-grass" root or to-ko (mungaroo of Boulia), and various species of yams, ng-ga.

116. I have no personal knowledge of Fungi, mushrooms, &c, as articles of diet in these districts. However, Mr. Coghlan, of Glenormiston, a careful observer, says that just on the western side of the Mulligan a sort of truffle, with a yellowish flesh after roasting, appears to be a delicacy. This, he tells me, is very difficult to find even with the practised eye, a small undulation on the surface of the ground being its only indication: when once it has pushed its way through it rapidly gets "bad" through exposure to the sun.

117. Fruits and Vegetables.—Throughout North-West-Central Queensland the "wild orange" (Aialantia glauca, Hook., Pitta-Pitta woom-bun-ye, Kalkadoon in-pa-ka-to, Mitakoodi kun-doo-tul) , "emu-apple," (Owenia acidula, F. v M., Mitakoodi el-din, oo-ro-ka), wild-currant (Mitakoodi kung-ga-pa-ri, yul-boong-go), several kinds of vine, caper, trefoil, and numerous berries and peas for which there are no European equivalents are all eaten. Indeed, it is difficult under this heading to know what is refused.

118. Flowers and Honey.—The blossoms of the "blood-wood" (Eucalyptus corymbosa, Sm.), and Bauhinia-trees at Glenormiston, and of the ti-trees (Cordyline, Comm.) at Roxburgh, are sucked for the sake of the sugar or honey contained.

Honey or "sugar-bag," as the more civilised aboriginals call it, is found throughout the North-West-Central Districts, especially along the river courses, except perhaps the Upper Mulligan, and obtained by one or other of the following methods. Its locality in the particular tree is tracked: during the winter-time, by watching carefully for the minute pellets of dung lying on the ground around the butt; in the summer months, by observing the bees going in and out of their nest; and at occasion by putting the ear down to some natural orifice at the base of the tree, and listening for the insects' hum and buzz. The trunk is often tapped lightly with the fingers (sects. 83, 84) or with a stone for indications of a hollow core: a likely situation for a nest. When the nest has been discovered, the limb may be removed bodily, or the tree climbed: the latter measure can be effected by cutting nicks or steps alternately higher and higher on either side of the trunk, and stepping from one on to the other (sect. 84, Fig. 82). To remove the honey from out of the cavity either the hand or a stick is inserted: this is swept round and round to prevent the glutinous mass from dropping off, somewhat after the style of a spoon with some thick syrup on it (sect. 84, Fig. 80). A bee is known as ool-lo in the Boulia District, bung-go bung-go in the Cloncurry: honey in the latter is koong-ga.

119. Insects and Crustaceans.—Certain species of ants (for local names, see sect. 53)—a green variety among the Mitakoodi—are eaten raw: the individual stands or stamps upon an ant-bed from which these creatures will run up his legs and thighs, and get scraped or swept off as fast as they come up. Smaller kinds of grubs and caterpillars, especially those found on the grass (ka-pa-ra, both of the Boulia and Cloncurry Districts) may be eaten raw and whole: the larger varieties, found in trees, (ka-lo-rung-or-o of the Boulia) are usually roasted, the heads not being eaten (sect. 84, Fig. 84), or may be dried in the sun, and put away for future occasion. Crayfish (Pitta-Pitta koon-da-chi, Mitakoodi pe-kool) are also relished.

120. Molluscs.—The freshwater mussel (Unio), which is a very common article of diet is roasted in its shell, whole. It is tracked usually by feeling for it in the mud with the feet. The Mitakoodi call it by three different names: pe-je