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Aboriginal Tourism - Indigenous Australia - Iconography and Symbols
The dotted motifs of much of today’s Aboriginal modern design work has become the trademark of the contemporary Aboriginal Art movement. Its iconic status developed from a culture stretching back into the history of an ancient land, evolving and weaving into desert dreamtime stories.

One of the popular imagery of bush tucker include the iconic Witchetty Grubs, one of the traditional bush foods enjoyed both raw and cooked by the Australian Indigenous Aborigines. In their depiction of the Witchetty, many artist stamp their own unique way of portraying the grub, whether it is a close facsimile of the insect, a unique clustering arrangement or a modern take that may emphasise a particular pattern.

Witchetty Grubs - Aboriginal Symbols, Icons and Imagery

SymbolsBush Tucker Bush Banana GoannaHoney AntsWitchetty GrubsWildlife
Witchetty Grub © Rex Sultan-Jabangardi
Witchetty Grub
© Rex Sultan-Jabangardi
Witchetty Grubs © Audrey Rubuntja
Witchetty Grubs
© Audrey Rubuntja
Witchetty Grub © Trephina Sultan
Witchetty Grub
© Trephina Sultan
Witchetty Grubs © Rex Sultan-Jabangardi Witchetty Grub © June Sultan
Witchetty Grub
© June Sultan
Witchetty Grubs
© Rex Sultan-Jabangardi
Witchetty Grubs © Audrey Rubuntja
Witchetty Grubs © Audrey Rubuntja
Witchetty Grub © Trephina Sultan
Witchetty Grub
© Trephina Sultan
Witchetty Grubs © Daniel Goodwin
Witchetty Grubs
© Danny Goodwin
Witchetty Grubs & Honey Ants © Trephina Sultan
Witchetty & Honey Ants
© Trephina Sultan
Witchetty Grubs © June Sultan
Witchetty Grubs
© June Sultan
Witchetty Grubs © Audrey Rubuntja
Witchetty Grubs
© Audrey Rubuntja
Witchetty Grubs © Audrey Rubuntja
Witchetty Grubs © Audrey Rubuntja

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Witchetty bush is one of the important plant for the Indigenous People of Australia, especially because of the large tasty grub found in the roots of the plant, where it makes its home. The grub is the larvae of a large grey moth that can grow up to 6 cm and longer. During a really good season, you can collect up to as many as 50 grubs from the roots of one decent size bush.

The grubs are rich in proteins and fats that are easily assimilated by humans, and as a food source is highly valued by the Aborigines. Although the grubs can be found at all times of the year, not all Witchetty bushes will harbour the grub. The moths themselves are also eaten.1

Like the Honey Ants, the Witchetty Grubs are depicted in bush tucker paintings. Often included in the paintings are the symbol imagery of the digging sticks, coolamon and women. The meticulous works of Audrey Rubuntja and her daughter Clarabelle Swift, often depict the witchetty grubs in their bush tucker paintings. Other Aboriginal artists including Janet Forrester Ngala and Janet Long Nakamarra have produced a number of works on the ‘Witchetty Grub Dreaming’.

Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Hexapoda
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Cossidae
Genus: Endoxyla
Species: E. leucomochla
Common name: Witchetty Grub
Arrernte name: Atnyematye, tyape
Luritja name: maku
   
 

Footnote:

1 Peter Latz, Bushfires and Bushtucker Aboriginal Plant Use in Central Australia, IAD Press, Alice Springs, 2004, p103-104
   
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