Bush tucker

Year 9/10

Suggested duration: Two lessons plus


In this task, students will read about bush tucker in order to complete an analysis activities worksheet and to create a restaurant menu based on the foods described in The Little Red Yellow Black Book.

Aboriginal people visit and care for specific localities to take advantage of seasonal foods. When these foods — cycad palms in the north, bogong moths in the Alps, grain harvests of the inland, eel trapping in the south, crayfish and shellfish collections on the coast, just to name a few — were at their most plentiful, it was an occasion to invite neighbours to share the bounty (The Little Red Yellow Black Book, p. 38).

Learning outcomes

  • Students will create a restaurant menu from the information provided, based on availability and location.
  • Students will be able to identify and analyse the issues of food availability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
General capabilities Cross-curriculum priorities
Literacy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
Critical and creative thinking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures organising ideas: 3, 5
Intercultural understanding  

Australian Curriculum content descriptions

Year 9 History

  • Identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past (ACHHS172).

Year 10 History

  • Identify and analyse the perspectives of people from the past (ACHHS190).

Provisions for differentiation

Learning support

Students with special learning needs may work more successfully on the Bush Tucker Restaurant Menu by referring to the following information to give them some ideas:

Bush tucker item Description Used for
Small leaf tamarind Seasonal red fruit Cordials, chutneys or as fresh fruit
Lemon myrtle  Leaves, flowers and seeds Oil, tea, biscuits and medicines
Blue flax lily Edible berry with black seeds Smoothies and fruit salad
Lilly pilly Has an apple-like crunch Chutneys, sauces and jams


Students could work in a small group to prepare one or more dishes from their menu and host a dinner featuring that dish.


Aboriginal Studies Press, AIATSIS, Canberra, 2018.

For teachers

Ensure that the guidance notes included in The Little Red Yellow Black Book teacher resources have been considered.


  • Bush Tucker
  • Analysis

Preparation: Explain the tasks and expectations of this unit of work to the students.

Make copies of the Activity worksheet and Assignment sheet - one per student.

Step 1.

Conduct a guided reading of pages 38-40 of The Little Red Yellow Black Book. Review key points.

Step 2.

Begin the activity by asking the students if they can name any bush tucker items. Talk about which ones they have tried.

Step 3.

Have the class work together to compile a list of foods mentioned in that section of the book. Write the list on the whiteboard as students contribute by skim reading the pages. Place ticks next to the ones that students have heard of. Underline any that one or more students have tasted.

Step 4.

Assign the Activity worksheet for completion by the end of the lesson. Collect and mark the worksheets. Set a deadline for the menu to be completed. Students may need some additional time out of lesson time to complete the menu task.

Assessment ideas

  • Completed and marked activity worksheet
  • Menu marked against the inclusions listed on the assignment sheet


  1. Answers will vary. Students should consider the fact that they need to boil drinking water found in puddles, creeks or rivers for safety. They could dig to find water or locate water in the trunks of certain trees. Food could include edible plants that could be harvested using the knife, animals that could be hunted using the knife and fish or sea creatures that could be captured using the net. Preserving methods might include keeping meat in cold water or in the ground in the shade and keeping close to water sources or storing boiled water in the drink bottle.
  2. Answers will be individual. There will be certain species of birds, animals and sea creatures that are found all over the country, including kangaroos, wallabies, snakes, echidnas, beetles, grubs and shellfish.
  3. Foods that would most likely not be available: bread; pasta; chicken; chips; sugar; carrots; rice; milk; ice cream; sweetcorn; cheese                                               
  4. Rain water. Because of the monsoonal climate of the tropical north, it rains heavily almost every afternoon in the summer months.
    1. Effects on the plants might include clearing of trees to make way for housing and commercial developments, logging for industrial purposes, burning off to ensure safety of houses, removal of top soil due to deforestation, deterioration of the rainforest environment due to pollution, damage caused by tourist activities like bushwalking, hiking, 4WDs and camping, harm to delicate species, imbalance in the ecosystem caused by agriculture — including pest sprays and introduction or removal of foreign species, interruption of pollination processes and other issues.
    2. Effects on the animal species might include the same things as with plants, but also including hunting by tourists, interference with the natural habitat, food and water supply, breeding and behaviour of animals, introduction of species that turn feral, controlling measures (such as engineered diseases), culling of kangaroos by farmers, the impact of increased traffic which leads to increased roadkills, and other issues.
    3. Effects on marine ecosystems might include many of the suggestions already presented, and also include damage to coral reefs and marine environments by tourists walking, fishing, diving and boating, chemical spills and/or dumping which causes water pollution, increased boat traffic because of water sports, transport requirements and sightseeing by tourists, interference with natural behaviour of marine species through whale and dolphin watching activities, over-fishing, accidental catching of marine species (like dolphins and seabirds) through longline fishing and netting, alteration of the coastline, siltation and sedimentation processes affected by coastal development and beach maintenance practices and other issues.
  5. Introduced species such as feral cats, dogs, pigs and foxes have reduced the availability of certain creatures and plants as food sources for Torres Strait Islander peoples, whose land is already smaller in size than mainland areas where hunting and gathering occurs over a wider area. Introduced species also hunt and eat other elements of traditional food webs, forcing people to change their habits. They damage the ecosystem by overgrazing, over-hunting young animals, destroy habitats and cause changes to competition relationships in the environment.
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been able to manage their traditional lands and waters through the acquisition of land and water through legal systems such as native title and land rights. Co-management of national and state parks and ranger programs also provides an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to manage their Country.
Last reviewed: 8 Nov 2019