OFF Activities Talks

July 17 2023 Meeting: Flora and natural aspects of East Arnhem Land

Note that this month’s topic and speaker changed from that advertised in the annual program.

Well-travelled member Tony Porritt delivered a slideshow presentation of the flora and some natural aspects of East Arnhem Land. This is a part of Australia seldom visited by tourists, stretching along the west side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was an area considered as one of the Aboriginal homelands, where Aboriginal people can live a traditional lifestyle and maintain their connection to the land. As part of their visit in 2022 Tony & his wife Kate were able to visit some of these communities and to experience some aspects of traditional life.

The presentation was a fascinating glimpse of East Arnhem Land. The Yolŋu people hold inalienable freehold title over this land and a permit is required for entry. It is one of the last strongholds of traditional Aboriginal culture and Tony and Kate were treated to a number of examples – Kate’s painful sandfly bites were treated successfully with bush medicine (a poultice of two different herbs) and they enjoyed delicious queenfish cooked in paperbark. Vegetation ranged from riverine gallery forest to open woodland with red-flowered Darwin Woollybutts, and grassy coastal flats; Tony showed examples of the rich variety of flowering shrubs including many different peas. A fascinating presentation on a part of Australia few of us will ever visit

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