Everyone knows the special property of eucalyptus leaves! The leaves
of some species were crushed and soaked in water for medicinal purposes.
Manna is sap which exudes from many eucalypt trees, often from where
insects have made holes. It dries into sugary white drops which fall to
the ground. Delicious!
Bowls and dishes were made from the heavy bark. Those gnarled round growths
on the trunk were used as well. The Kulin people in southern Victoria, made
bowls called 'tarnuks' to carry water. Some had rope handles.
People along the Murray River made canoes from the bark of eucalypts (e.g.
River Red Gum, E. camaldulensis). They cut the bark to shape about 3m long
then held it over a fire, so that the sides would curl. Both ends were tied with
inner-bark fibre rope and wooden stretchers were used to prevent the sides collapsing.
Tarnuks or water vessels made from the gnarls of a gum tree.
Canoe made from the bark of a gum tree contains a fishing net made from
the Kurrajong bark.
Aboriginal people using reed spears and hoop nets. Upper Murray Chowilla
(Used with permission of the State Library of Victoria.)
Many Aboriginal peoples crafted spear-throwers, boomerangs and shields from
the fine, hard wood of eucalypts.
Spear thrower made from the timber of the Iron Bark by Peter Mongta of Cann
River, Victoria in 1990.
Shields made from the wood of gum trees.
Shield from the NSW tablelands (Mid 19th century).
Engraved and painted shield from the Murray River region of South Australia.
It is stained with ochre and white pipe clay (below).
Undecorated shield made from Red Box by Peter Mongta of Cann River, Victoria,
Decorated knocking sticks made from Mallee Gum (below).
Made by members of the 'Yourta Yourta' clan from the Murray River 1993.
Australian National Botanic Gardens - Education Service