Internationally acclaimed indigenous chef Clayton Donovan has recently completed a tour of schools in the Qwydir Shire, bringing a taste of the Australian bush into the classroom.
Clayton is Australia’s only indigenous hatted chef and the star of ABC television’s Wild Kitchen. He is known for creating amazing and uniquely Australian dishes in top restaurants all over the world, using native ingredients like wattleseed, pepperberry and lemon myrtle.
Organised by Northern Slopes Landcare Association, the tour took in some of the region’s smallest schools: Bellata, Bullarah, Mallawa, Burren Junction, Pilliga, Gwabegar and Fairfax Public.
Clayton’s first stop was Moree Public School, where the Garden Group was treated to an outdoor cooking demonstration and some delicious Kangaroo San Chow Bow.
As he cooked, Clayton and Kamilaroi man Alfred Priestly, talked about native foods found around Moree, and kept the students thoroughly entertained with stories about hunting for bush tucker.
Mr Priestly also spoke about Kamilaroi history and culture, sharing about which plants and animals can be eaten and how they are traditionally prepared. The students also had the chance to engage in traditional dancing.
“The children and teachers thoroughly enjoyed the day,” said Moree Public School’s Ms Lindy Hosegood.
Bellata Public School students Allira Stolzenberg and Ruby Stewart loved the visit. “The food was yummy and learning about how to catch goannas was fun!” they said.
Students at Bellata Public School were also surprised to learn that one of Clayton’s favourite ingredients, Bubblegum teatree, was growing within the school grounds.
The students and teachers had the opportunity to crush the teatree leaves in their hands, and breathe in the delicious oils that were released. According to Clayton, Bubblegum teatree is excellent for infusing with ice cream or custard.
“We were thrilled to be able to bring Clayton to visit these schools,” said event organiser Jo-Anna Skewes. “Some of these schools only have 8 or 9 students. To be able to bring an event like this to these kids is really special”.
“It was a great opportunity for them to learn more about Aboriginal culture, the bush around them and the resources it has to offer, and to engage with a part of Australia’s traditional history,” she said.
“The kids were able to see, touch, taste and smell native ingredients while hearing about their ecological and cultural significance. To see them mesmerised by the stories and their anticipation and willingness to try kangaroo for the first time was really fantastic.”
“We are also very grateful to the North West Local Land Services, Regional Landcare Facilitator and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme who provided funding to make these events happen,” Ms Skewes said.