Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The One with the Witchetty Grub

We caught the bus down to Margaret River, and the rain followed us. I haven't seen weather like this since I left home, and it's certainly wintery. We curled up in front of a fire with a bottle of wine and watched films on TV - a far cry from the lounging by the pool that we had envisaged.

Today was overcast and showery, but we headed of undeterred for our Bushtucker Canoeing Tour - we can handle a bit of bad weather... we're British!

The hostel give us a lift into town, and here we jump one the tour bus which drives us down to Prevelly - the beach area famous for world standard surfing, and where the Margaret River reaches the sea.

We are joined by an old couple and a family - older parents and a daughter about our age.

The aim of the day is to canoe up the river, stopping for info about the area and having a look, smell and taste of some of the bush tucker.

We are paired with old couple Anne and Vern. Vern takes to steering, and we zig zag across the whole river... I look longingly at the family who are paired with our guide... she seems to be doing all the hard work while they sit back. in corntrast, H and I are doing all the paddling, while Anne makes constructive critiscism of Verns steering capabilities. We certainly cover about 3 times the distance of the other boat but only as we slalom back and forth!

Margaret River is known to the Aboriganals as Wooditchup which means Place of the Magic People, and our first stop is certianly rather spooky.

It is covered in Tea Trees also known as Paper Barks, and as you can see the peeling of the bark makes it look liek a spooky wood. These trees are also hollow and were used as canoes. The trees are supposed to have a magic quality. You tell them your problems and as the water rises it washes the problems away. (I consider mentioning Vern's steering to the trees but decide better of it!)

We are told that when the aboriganals cooked Kangaroo they smoked it underground with wood, and the roo was buried up to its nose in the sand. When it was done, steam would issue out of the roo's nose!

From here we headed further up river (by this time we were quite proficient in turning round in circles... who knows maybe we would learn to steer straight by the end of the day!) and we learnt about Wallcliff House, a beautiful old house by the rivers edge built by the Bussel family (and they're 9 children, and 2 adopted aboriganal children), and then we paddled back downstream to the Wallcliff itself to stop for lunch.

Lunch was a Bushtucker feast. We tried Pepper berries (quite a kick to them), Blood Limes, Desert Limes, Quandang - a small peach like fruit with a stone that looks like a brain, and which can then be split open, and the nut inside eaten. We also ate Quandang leather which was like a fruit rollup and very tasty. We tried Pig Face, the fruit/flower of a plant, Rosella (from the Hyacinth family I think), and Bunya Nut, and Pilly Pilly.

For meat we had Emu, Bush Turkey, Kangaroo, and I finally got to try a Witchetty Grub! It was already dead and I only got 1/4 of it as other people wanted to try it too... but it was a witchetty grub none the less!

After a hearty lunch we went for a walk around, looking at more plants like the shark tooth wattle, and peppermint tree, native rosemary and citronella, before having a nose around a cave and then heading back down the river to shore.

Our surfing lesson tomorrow has been cancelled due to a big swell, but Margaret River is a lovely little place even if the weather is a bit poor!

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