Australia Adventure Part III: Bush Tucker

Before there were drug stores, people turned to plants for their healing properties. The land provided organic medicine to native cultures. Bush tucker, or bushfood, is the term used in Australia to describe the plants used by the aboriginal people for culinary or medicinal purposes dating back nearly 60,000 years.

I visited three of the six Australian states: Victoria, southeast; New South Wales, northeast of Victoria; and Queensland, north eastern. Of these three states, I took two separate bush walk guided tours, at Cape Otway, Victoria, and Cairns, Queensland. It amazed me the variety of plants used for every day ailments.

Here are five examples:

1. Lemongrass roots and stems, such as the popular scented Lemon Myrtle, were popular to treat myriad ailments. Once liquified, drinking it treated sore throats, colds, and coughs. This plant also cured headaches and migraines with the same strength as modern-day aspirin. A headache sufferer, I kept a handful on me for a few days to put it to the test — and it worked!

2. Eucalyptus is for more than just hungry koalas. Its antibacterial properties were widely used for dental health, including mouthwash, cough, and throat ailments.

3. Before modern-day female contraception, aborigine women used to seek out the Kangaroo Apple for birth control.

4. Tea tree oil, paper bark, would be applied to wounds for its antiseptic benefits, which helped to clear acne.

5. The sandpaper fig and stinking passion flower were used hand-in-hand for insect bites. The fig, which has a rough, scratchy feel, would be rubbed against the skin until it bled. Then, the flower would be applied to relieve the itch. The sandpaper fig was additionally used to cure ringworm and other wounds.

We so easily take for granted that, when we are in pain, we can pop a pill to alleviate our problems. Everything is within arm’s reach or just down the road. Modern medicine is convenient, but is it as healthy as primitive ways, used long before scientific research?

A society that once worked based on an honor code of take what you need and trade what you believe is of equal value. Indigenous ways were so simple and natural in comparison to the world we live in today. Maybe not all of us can heal ourselves in our backyards, yet, but once I learned the ways of the Earth, it opened my eyes to the possibilities.


This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

My Australian Adventure: Part I

G’day mate! For most of January, I awoke in various locations throughout the big, wondrous land down under: Australia.

A trip of a lifetime amounted to an ever-growing adventure. Every day was a unique journey, each moment, an exciting exploration. While abroad, I found ways to stay healthy and fit, which can be difficult to prioritize during travel. As I share a few insights from my three-week trip, I’ve decided to break it down into three parts: my favorite hike, workout tips from a local expert, and eating like an aborigine. This is part one.

Royal National Park is an hour drive away from the big city of Sydney, and it holds the naturally formed phenomenon of the Figure 8 Pools on a rocky, coastal shelf. I’d like to clarify, for those ready to Google images, that there is actually only one figure eight formation. The rest are crystal blue, perfectly round holes deep enough to jump in and as such, they have become an Instagram sensation. However, what social media doesn’t share is the extremely arduous trek to get there.

Arriving at the Figure 8 Pools requires, first checking the wave risk forecast, which ranges from Extreme to Very Low, on the NSW National Parks website. If unchecked, it can leave tourists stranded with rising tides and crashing waves. It also demands a good amount of endurance. Upon parking at Garrawarra Farm carpark, it’s a six-kilometer, descending walk through the forest, along the mountain, on a narrow trail just suitable for one person in both directions (and sometimes only one at a time). Once at sea level, you’ll walk across Burning Palms Beach, a remote beach akin to a scene out of “Lord of the Flies” or “The Beach.” After crossing the sands, the final part of the journey concludes with navigating across a dangerous, slippery rock shelf.

If the view of the mountains meeting the ocean doesn’t take your breath away, the energy of the journey surely will. The hiking grade is rated Hard, with a total round-trip time of three hours.

I didn’t travel all the way to Australia to take the easy path, and if you’re physically inclined, you should definitely add this hike to your travel bucket list.


This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here