wundajilla - Green Possum
gugi - Flying Fox
jambun - Witchetty Grub
The Ngadjonji hunted and trapped the animals, birds and fish that shared
their rainforest world. These animal foods, together with the wide variety
of plant foods that they obtained from the forest (see Plant Use Table
Processing), ensured a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
Larger animals and birds, which were active in the daytime or at dusk and
dawn, such as pademelons (gupa)
and other wallabies or cassowaries (gumbulgan)
could be speared. Many of the smaller rainforest animals such as the
nuta, wundajilla), flying-foxes (gugi)
and the white-tailed rat (durrgim)
are only active at night when the Ngadjonji did little hunting. They often
used their spectacular tree-climbing skills (see Tree-climbing)
to catch these animals in their day-time resting places high in the
treetops. Tree-climbing was also necessary to obtain the much-prized honey
and honeycomb of mayi, the native bee.
As well as cassowaries, other birds such as scrub hens (jarragan) and especially scrub
and their eggs (bambu) were
important food for the Ngadjonji. The feathers could be used as a body
decoration for corroborees. The Ngadjonji constructed large turkey-traps
(jimama) out of woven lawyercane and enticed the birds into the traps by
laying trails of food. (See Animal
Reptiles which were a welcome part of the diet included large snakes such
as the carpet snake (garpu)
and rock python (gundaya),
and, from the river, fresh-water turtles (bangarru).
Also from the water came fish such as jewfish (ganyu) and eels (japun). Eels were particularly
sought after and could be speared in shallow water or caught in long traps
made from woven lawyercane (see Eels).
Another popular food item was the large and highly nutritious witchetty
obtained from the wood of dead trees.
All these animals (except witchetty grubs which could be eaten raw) were
cooked before eating. This cooking could be in a ground oven (for large
pieces of meat), in the coals of a fire (most of the smaller animals, fish
and birds) or on a spit or frame of green saplings above a fire
(especially snakes and eels). (See Fire)
(White-tailed Rat) eating didaja
(fruit of the Atherton Oak)