Harvest of the Unploughed Plains

  • Geoffrey Blainey


For several generations most European settlers who had opportunities of observing the traditional life of aboriginals came to clear conclusions about their diet. Aboriginals, they decided, were mainly flesh-eaters who occasionally ate fruit and vegetables. Thus the first European explorer in western Victoria, finding a bag in which aboriginal women carried food, looked inside and saw three snakes, three rats, some yabbies, about two pounds of a tiny freshwater fish resembling whitebait, and many small roots of a dandelion or chicory which was then specking the plains with yellow flowers. The explorer saw no evidence in the spring of 1836 to suggest that vegetables were more than a small supplement to a diet of fish and meat. He was inclined to conclude that the main food was opossum. Caught in the trees and lightly toasted, it had the flavour of singed wool.


Plant Food Aboriginal Woman Cape York Peninsula European Explorer Digging Stick 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Blainey

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