Kambarang, the season of birth in Aboriginal culture, runs from October to November, bringing new blooms, colors, and the ultimate Bush food experiences in Western Australia.
In a semi-circle, we sit in near silence. Our host stands at the center, slicing fruit and nuts for us to try. Our reactions pop out unbidden.
We say “Wow” a lot, but mostly, we’re speechless. We can’t describe what we taste. Our host samples everything carefully before handing a bowl to us.
“I must feel like a baby tasting ice cream or feijoa for the first time,” I think.
Every bite is a new discovery. This isn’t in a far-flung place; it’s an art gallery in Western Australia’s Swan Valley.
I’m having an audience with Dale Tilbrook, known as the “bush tucker queen.”
Originally from Margaret River, the Wardandi Bibbulmun woman travels the world, sharing the story of native edibles’ importance to Aboriginal people.
My favorites are finger limes and the smell of strawberry gum. Wattleseed captivates me the most.
Though I’ve had wattleseed, I’ve never seen it in its raw form.
“It’s called acacia cyclops – and you can see why,” says Tilbrook, handing me an eye-like seed encircled in red.
I arrived in Western Australia two days earlier for Perth’s inaugural EverNow Festival, a contemporary Indigenous celebration for Kambarang.
One of the six seasons recognized by the Noongar people, Kambarang marks the wildflower season’s arrival.
It’s renowned for the time when Western Australia’s wildflowers bloom.
It transforms parklands and roadsides into a sea of reds, purples, and pinks, with the golden wattle taking center stage.
What’s less known is it’s a season of food abundance. It’s a time to indulge in gilgie, warrine, and native fruits like quandong.
Kambarang is one of the best times to try Australia’s native foods.
They’re poised to become the next superfoods, with the industry expected to double by 2025.
For instance, a quandong is a powerful antioxidant with more Vitamin C than an orange and iron. Wattleseed is a rich source of protein.
Kangaroo is incredibly lean and contains as much iron as beef.
They’re also delicious.
Woodcutters, a new restaurant at Australia’s second-oldest winery, Nikola Estate, elevates bush tucker to super tasty.
Tenderly seared kangaroo fillet is served with quandong marmalade, and barramundi comes with wattleseed and macadamia.
I’m having difficulty determining whether this meal or the one at Wildflower in Perth’s CBD is the true elevation of bush tucker.
My menu at Wildflower includes local asparagus with duck egg and Geraldton wax, one of Kambarang’s hero wildflowers.
It’s their leaves that provide an unexpected lemony zing.
But at the EverNow Festival grounds, I realize my crash course in bush tucker wasn’t just about food.
It was an introduction to the Noongar people and their way of life.
The rings surrounding a black dot in the festival’s logo represent the wattleseed, the symbol of the season’s arrival.
Kambarang may be a season of transformation, but Perth proves that transformation can happen at any time.
In just a day, you can transform into a child, tasting the world for the first time.
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