Our Indigenous Garden
An Internet WebQuest on Aboriginal Use of Native Plants

UniServe Science

Introduction | Task | The Process and Resources | HyperText Dictionary



Introduction

Australian Aborigines managed to live successfully in Australia for 40,000 years before white man invaded, making use of what was available around them for food, medicine, shelter and utensils. The early white settlers learnt much from the local people but gradually that knowledge was lost as more familiar exotic species and alternative technologies were introduced.

For many years, our gardens have traditionally contained introduced species. Gradually we are realising the benefits of native species - fewer pests, more drought tolerant and attracting to native wildlife.

But Australians are now beginning to realise what a wealth of interesting resources are available in the bush and appreciate our local plants as a source of food and much more. Most people have heard the term "Bush Tucker". But what exactly is bush tucker?

In this WebQuest you will explore the plants used by the Australian Aborigines for food, shelter, medicine and utensils, and the technology they employed to fully utilise the resources available.




Task

Your task is to design a garden for your school or a local park that illustrates the use made of native Australian plants by the Australian Aborigines. You will also have to prepare some printed material for visitors to your garden. This might be a guided walk that takes visitors through the garden identifying the plants and their uses, it might be signs erected around the garden in appropriate locations or it might be an interactive kiosk for visitors with a web site or PowerPoint presentation.




The Process and Resources

In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of students in class. Each group will answer the Task or Quest(ion). As a member of the group you will explore web pages from people all over the world who are interested in how the Australian Aborigines made use of the plants available to them for food, medicine, decoration and food collection or processing. Because these are real web pages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online dictionary or one in your classroom.

You'll begin with everyone in your group getting some background before dividing into roles where people on your team become experts on one part of the topic.

Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone

Use the Internet information linked below to answer the basic questions of who? what? where? when? why? and how? Be creative in exploring the information so that you can get some great ideas for your garden.

The following links will illustrate some existing gardens and gardening ideas:

Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Individuals or pairs from your larger WebQuest team will explore one of the roles below.

2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and copying / pasting it into a word processor or other writing software.

3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to inorder to prove your point and so that you can reference your sources in your bibliography.

Food Nutritionist

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on native plants that were used by the Australian Aborigines for food and how the food was prepared:

Caution: Many native plants used by the Aborigines contain toxins for which the Aborigines had developed preparation techniques to neutralise their effects.

Naturopath

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on native plants that were used by the Australian Aborigines as medicines and how the plants were used:

Artisan

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on native plants that were used by the Australian Aborigines to the production of artifacts used for the hunting and collecting of food, the processing of food or for decorative purposes:

Horticulturist

Use the Internet information linked below to find information on the climate of you local area, environmental factors that might need to be considered when planning a native garden and the availability of seeds and plants:

Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

You have all learned about different plants that the Aborigines used in their daily life - for food, for hunting and collecting, for medicinal purposes and for ceremonial purposes.

As a group, you should decide which plants should be included in your Indigenous Garden. Some plants cover a range of uses, some are very specific. Some plants are easy to obtain and grow while others are very difficult. Some plants will suit the climate of or conditions in your school, others won't. Some plants are very large or slow growing while others might make an impact more quickly.

Having decided on the plants to include, as a group, design a layout for the garden. Keep in mind the relative size of plants, their requirement for soil, water, sun, shade.

As a group, prepare material to illustrate the use of the plants in your garden. This might be in the form of a guided walk (such as the ones from the Botanic Gardens), a brochure (also available from Botanic Gardens) or a series of signs placed alongside individual plants.

In preparing your signage or brochure, remember:
Many native plants used by the Aborigines contain toxins for which the Aborigines had developed preparation techniques to neutralise their effects.

Grants are available to schools from the Environmental Trust to give schools the the opportunity to involve their students and community in developing and implementing environmental management projects. Check the Eco Schools web site at http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/envtrust/ecoschools.htm to find out more.




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