Fields of murrnong

This country of undulating hills and golden grasses provides us murrnong (yam daisy) to eat. We restore balance by replanting them, but first we burn the country to cleanse it in readiness to give back what we have taken.

The fields of murrnong are a mosaic of fertile black earth and shimmering yellow, with the murrnong gently swaying in the breeze. This practice of fire and replanting, handed down from generation to generation, serves both a spiritual and useful need.

Often there is raucous joy as my mothers, my grandmothers, my aunties and sisters care for the murrnong fields. Some stand tall, carefully ensuring the fires are controlled, while others hunch low to the ground using yam sticks to dig up the murrnong roots. I remember when I was first shown how to craft my own yam stick. Each woman when allowed makes her own – it is an important milestone.

There is laughter and the language of song, and the children eagerly try to learn from their elders. They mimic what they see, digging playfully in the dirt among the dancing murrnong with their broken branches and twigs they call their yam sticks.

Murrnong (yam daisy) in bloom