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Gold-dust Wattle and Emu Eggs

For Wiradjuri people the emu was a valuable resource: they ate the meat, used emu oil as a medicine, feathers for decoration and large bones for constructions.

Wiradjuri used Gold-Dust Wattle as a seasonal indicator for the time to collect emu eggs. When this wattle bloomed, Wiradjuri began to gather emu eggs. From late winter to early spring, strong westerly winds blew and the blossom fell, signalling the end of egg gathering as the chick will have formed inside the egg and begun to grow. This practise of sustainability respects the emu cycle of life by leaving the developing chicks to hatch – this means the chicks can grow into adults which reproduce to hatch more eggs themselves, providing the Wiradjuri with a constant food source. Additionally, only adult male emus are killed for their meat leaving the females to lay the eggs.

Extending over a vast area in central New South Wales and bordered by the rivers Lachlan, Macquarie and Murrumbidgee, the grasslands running north and south to the west of the Blue Mountains, is the traditional home of the Wiradjuri. Despite the vastness of their Country, the Wiradjuri were united by a common language, strong ties of kinship and survived as skilled hunter–fisher–grower-gatherers in family groups. The Wiradjuri’s close connection with the land provided them with valuable food and medicine resources such as grain from the grasses, kangaroo, possum, fish and shellfish, bats, and birds, particularly the emu.​

Emu in the Sky

Wiradjuri people observed changes in the orientation of the Celestial Emu constellation in the night sky which they correlated to the breeding cycle of the emu: mating, laying and brooding of the eggs, and the hatching of the chicks. Watch this video to learn more.

Activities - Gold-dust Wattle and Emu Eggs

1. Listen to a story

Listen to the Wiradjuri Skystories and close your eyes and make the images appear in your mind of what is happening.

2. Dreaming Art: Emu in the Sky 

Watch Wiradjuri Skystories about  emu in the sky. Make a stencil of an Emu with its legs either running, tucking up or without legs.  Make tiny coloured crayon marks all over the page in the area, outside the emu stencil, to represent the dust cloud within the Milky Way. Paint wash in black over the whole page to create an image of the Emu in the Sky. Remove the stencil. Because you have painted the whole page and the stencil black (the night sky), when you lift the stencil you are left with a white silhouette of the emu. The paint will not adhere to the crayon marks which will appear as the stars/dust cloud of the Milky Way.

3. An emu life cycle

Research, draw and label the life cycle of an emu. Label the parts of the life cycle when Wiradjuri would eat emu. Why do they only eat the emu in this part of the emu life cycle? How does this protect the emu?