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Adelaide couple cook up new bush food range

The Forager

Granny skills advocate Rebecca Sullivan has created a new range of Australian native food products for home cooks – including a kangaroo broth and “tea bags” made with ants and river mint.

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The products are being sold under the brand Warndu, a two-stage project by Sullivan and her partner Damien Coulthard which was launched recently with the support of crowd-funding campaign StartSomeGood.

Warndu means to “feel good” in the traditional Adnyamathanha language of Coulthard’s indigenous Australian ancestors, who come from the Flinders Ranges.

“When we first started dating, we wanted to think about how we could combine our love of sustainable food and create a brand that gave us a way of talking about Damien’s heritage and culture,” says Sullivan, a self-taught cook, entrepreneur and founder of Dirty Girl Kitchen.

“Then Damien lost his grandma, and with me working in granny skills, we wanted to create something that talks about the past in a non-intrusive way and food that gets people talking.

“Warndu seeks to promote native ingredients and calls on the healing powers of our own indigenous foods and elders’ knowledge.”

Sullivan’s Dirty Girl Kitchen is a community-supported co-operative which seeks to inspire women from all cultures to come together to share their “granny skills” – the kinds of skills that are passed down through the generations and involve getting your hands “dirty”, from growing food and making soap, to brewing stock and weaving a basket. Coulthard is a teacher at Le Fevre High School at Semaphore and is involved with the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy, where he aims to help students reconnect with the community.

Already the pair has created a range of teas, oils and nut milks under the Warndu brand, using ingredients such as wattleseed, saltbush, native thyme, river mint, lemon myrtle, strawberry gum and Davidson plums. Notable products are their River Mint and Ant Brew Bags (tea), jars of Roo Broth (a stock made from kangaroo tails), Saltbush Oil and Macadamia Milk with Wild Honey.


River Mint & Ant Brew Bags.

The second stage of the Warndu project will see the product range expanded to include skincare and traditional health supplements, while the couple continue to raise funds with the support of StartSomeGood to open their own retail outlet. For now, however, Warndu products can be found online and at Goodies and Grains, Paulett Wines’ bushfood-inspired Bush Devine Café in the Clare Valley, at the Gilbert Street IGA and at E for Ethel café in North Adelaide.

Sullivan is also involved in the 2016 Tasting Australia festival as curator of the South Australian Museum’s first native-themed “Night Lab” event this Friday. Planned to run alongside the museum’s current exhibition, Shields: power and protection in Aboriginal Australia, it will combine science, culture and food to introduce participants to the links between what we eat and the environment we live in – from the geology of wine regions to the bush foods that reflect South Australia’s biodiversity.

At the event, participants will also meet entomologist Skye Blackburn, who runs the Edible Bug Shop in Sydney, and urban beekeeper Doug Purdie, from The Urban Beehive, who will offer tastings of honeys from all over Australia. There will also be native canapes, Paulett’s wines, Mismatch beer, Hills cider, native desserts by Magill Estate’s Emma Shearer and a special Night Lab cocktail at the end of the night, plus entertainment by Archie Roach’s back-up singer, Ellie Lovegrove.

Night Lab starts at 6pm on May 6 at the SA Museum. Tickets are $35 per person and include access to the Shields: power and protection in Aboriginal Australia exhibition. Information and bookings can be found on the Tasting Australia website.




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