Native Grasses, Gluten-free Grain, One Watering

Now, this is another photograph that I wish all Australia could learn something about, to know something about, because, here’s old gran, old white gran, all togged up in the Sunday best, and she’s standing beside all these grinding dishes. All the mortars and pestles, because the land that her family took was used by grain growers, people who call themselves Panera or Panan, or all sorts of different forms of that word. Because Panera means grass, and they would call themselves Panera. They had all sorts of different other names, language names, land names, but, in general, they referred to themselves as grass people because they were farming grass. I can never look at that photograph and think of the culture that had been taken away. It’s not just the loss of the land, loss of the people, loss of language, it’s loss of agricultural knowledge because this is Wilcannia. No one grows wheat in Wilcannia today and, yet, these people were harvesting a grain they converted into flour which was gluten free and grew on sand, needed one watering every year. Now, the other important thing about these perennial grasses of the aboriginal people that had been domesticated for what we believe is, at least, 40,000 years, and we can prove that.

These grinding dishes … There’s one that has been examined by Fullagar and Field, that has been aged at 32,000 years, simply by looking at the remaining flour caught in the texture of that stone, and it comes up with an age of 32,000 years, and it was published in The Age two years ago. I was able, because I was doing the proofs of Dark Emu at the time, I was able to slide it into the book, only a small reference. When I started to examine the history of bread making in the world, I was expecting everyone to have been making bread before that because I’m an Australian. I’ve had an education which has led me to believe that everything happened somewhere else. The people who made bread first were the Egyptians 15,000 years ago.


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