Tropical rainforest fruits on paper bark
Forage for bush foods and dine on native ingredients at the first A Taste of Kakadu festival, from 12-21 May.
By Georgia Rickard
Published: 12 May, 2017
Gushing waterfalls. Expansive wetlands. Dramatic, ancient escarpments, stretched across a land of staggeringly large proportions. Kakadu is breathtaking. And this month this famous wilderness park gets even better, when, for the first time, it erupts in a food festival celebrating its Aboriginal heritage.
Aboriginal people have lived here continuously for at least 50,000 years. Their relationship with the region is a deeply spiritual one – you can see as much purely from the acclaimed rock art found here. And food plays a big role in that spiritual connection. For 10 days (12-21 May) the park will will host A Taste of Kakadu, a series of boutique dinners, foraging sessions, culinary demonstrations, campfire stories, sunset canape cruises and bush tucker talks with traditional owners. It’s an opportunity to experience Aboriginal food customs and the region’s incredible native foods in one of the world’s most majestic natural settings. Here are three of our highlights.
FOOD WORTH FORAGING FOR
Kakadu is home to the Bininj people from the region's north and the Mungguy people from the south. In honour of this inaugural festival, two senior Bininj women, Jesse Alderson and Patsy Raglar, have invited visitors into Patonga Homestead for the first time. For one day only, they’ll take guests on a journey through their land, sharing traditional foraging methods for foods such as native yam and honey bags (the honeycomb of the wild Australian stingless bee) while walking the country together. It’s a real honour to be invited to share in this cultural knowledge – guests will no doubt leave with authentic insight into how the Bininj people have lived in this land for thousands of years. And the women aren’t even asking for payment. The experience is free.
A POP-UP WITH REAL FLAVOUR
May is a good time to celebrate in Kakadu. Traditionally a period of abundance, when wild delicacies such as magpie geese and barramundi become available in great numbers, it’s a time when the landscape blooms with life, revived by summer rains into an astoundingly lush display of foliage and flowers. During A Taste of Kakadu, foodies can experience this landscape with all their senses at Fervor, an intimate pop-up restaurant in a secret location under the stars. Those lucky enough to attend will be served a special 10-course degustation menu showcasing a range of locally sourced native ingredients such as marron, green ants, crab, youlk (a native root vegetable), wattleseed, seaweed, wallaby and muntrie berries. You’ll need to be quick – the event is limited to just 40 people. Those who grab tickets will gain an appreciation of Kakadu’s abundant flavours. It’s an area bursting with fresh food.
THE WILD CHAMPAGNE CRUISE
Most visitors would agree that the park’s Yellow Water Billabong sunset cruise is an unmissable part of any Kakadu trip – it’s an intimate, highly photogenic activity undertaken on a vast, silvery wetland to the sound of thousands of chattering magpie geese. During A Taste of Kakadu, however, the experience will have an extra dimension. Settle quietly into your seat with a glass of Champagne and you’ll sample unique Australian flavours in canapes prepared by Aboriginal celebrity chef Sharon Windsor, an expert in foraging for bush foods. The combination of wild native flavours and this uniquely Australian wilderness is a sure-fire recipe for a memorable experience; Champagne might not be a native Australian food but it sure pairs well!
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