Indigenous Australians had been fermenting a wide variety of plant materials and extracts—including tree saps and roots, banksia flowers and roasted ground nuts—probably for thousands of years.
We’ve all heard stories of rum-soaked misadventure in Australia’s early colonial past. But fermented drinks, and food, were consumed on this land long before the First Fleet’s arrival, let alone our current love affair with kimchi and kombucha.
Indigenous Australians had been fermenting a wide variety of plant materials and extracts—including tree saps and roots, banksia flowers and roasted ground nuts—probably for thousands of years. And some of these practices may continue today.
Their full scope has never been documented. But that’s about to change. University of Adelaide researchers are currently identifying and studying Indigenous fermentations right across the country.
In this special Reconciliation Week presentation you’ll hear what they’ve learned so far, including preliminary analyses of the finished products and insights into their cultural significance.
Professor Vladimir Jiranek is Professor of Oenology and Head of the Department of Wine and Food Science at the University of Adelaide. He also directs the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production. Vladimir is a graduate of the University of Adelaide having pursued studies linked to his lifelong fascination with the diversity and elegance of nature. Through a PhD at the Australian Wine Research Institute his work on fermentation microbiology led to a keen interest in the diversity of wine styles, whilst his research has broaden to the ‘natural’ home and adaptations of wine yeast to the environment and the environment as a source of new stains with interesting properties.
Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O’Brien is a Senior Aboriginal Man, descendant of the Kaurna (Adelaide Plains) and Narringa (York Peninsula) peoples. Michael has been sharing cultural engagement for a number years, a role handed over to him by his Father Uncle Lewis Yerla Burka O’Brien. Michael travels across Australia working in a number of Aboriginal communities, delivering programs and benefits. He is a recipient of the Rotary Club Courtesy Award for his community involvement working with the youth; as well as a recipient of the Australia Day Service Awards for his volunteering work on advisory boards.
Michael O’Brien will join Professor Vladimir Jiranek and share his firsthand experience with Aboriginal fermentations.
Fermented drinks, and food, were consumed on this land long before the First Fleet’s arrival, let alone our current love affair with kimchi and kombucha.