You are in site section: History & ideas

‘Aboriginal Plant Use Trail’ at the Australian National Botanic Gardens

WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.



‘Aboriginal Plant Use Trail’ at the Australian National Botanic Gardens

29 Jan 2016

The National Museum’s Indigenous Curator Lee Burgess attended the launch of the Aboriginal Plant Use Trail at the Australian National Botanic Gardens on Thursday 21 January.

Aunty Agnes Shea at the launch of the Aboriginal Plant Use Trail
Aunty Agnes Shea opens the Aboriginal Plant Use Trail. Photo: Lee Burgess.

The event was opened by Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Agnes Shea who also provided an interesting first-hand account of the use of a medicinal plant called ‘Old man weed’. Aunty Agnes recalled that an Aboriginal man had applied a concoction of the plant to a severe wound on a pet dog that was attacked by an emu. She feared the dog would have to be put down but after a few weeks the wound had healed and it was “right as rain”.

A trail through the Australian shrubs and trees.
View of part of the Aboriginal Plant Use Trail. Photo: Lee Burgess.
A palm tree with interpretive signage.
Cabbage Tree palm and new interpretive sign. Photo: Lee Burgess.

Lee’s involvement in the Aboriginal Plant Use Trail was to contribute cultural knowledge, where appropriate, to the content of the new interpretive signs.

For example, the plant mulga (Acacia aneura) is a relatively well-known central Australian shrub or tree. It is used by Aboriginal people for making tools, weapons, shelters and as a source of food, such as edible gum, mulga apples and witchetty grubs. But few people know that the fine ash from the burnt wood is highly sought-after. It was and still is used in ceremonies, mixed with ‘Pituri’ (native tobacco) and rubbed into body scars to emphasise the scarring.

The original signage was installed in the mid 1970s and gradually replaced from 2013.

The new interpretive signs are certainly eye-catching and, thanks to Lee, contain a little more cultural information than before, making for an interesting self-guided walk.

Interpretive signage for a Cabbage Tree Palm.
Close-up of new interpretive signage. Photo: Lee Burgess.

 

Back to Goree