Sharing bush medicine with non-Aboriginal people saved lives.
A knowledge of Aboriginal medicinal plants and practices helped keep some Europeans alive in the challenging conditions Australia presented in the 19th century.
The Wadawurrung People showed many miners how to collect and prepare wattle gum as a treatment for dysentery and there is evidence in oral histories that some European women successfully sought the help of Wadawurrung women during childbirth. Today, traditional Aboriginal medicines, like eucalyptus and tea tree oils, and the use of emu fat, continue to be popular health and beauty treatments both here and around the world.
PLAY THE AUDIO: Bryon Powell, Wadawurrung Elder, 2014.
“Wattle … give off a great deal of gum which is very similar to gum Arabic and [is] good as medicine for the dysentery so is the decoction from the bark.”
Bendigo miner George Rowe, c.1855.