Bush foods from the Gold Coast

Indigenous Queenslanders and Northern New South Welshmen have traditionally used native plants in our glorious subtropical and tropical environment to heal themselves, as well as for food.

Here are five healing and nourishing plants native to the Gold Coast, with some of their tradtional uses, old and new.

  1. Goat’s foot plant. This grows along coastal dunes all along tropical and sub tropical areas. The leaves, which look like goat hooves, can be crushed and applied externally to treat rheumatism, jellyfish stings, and boils.
  1. Tea tree. The oil is taken from the leaves of the Melaleuca tree which is native to South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties were discovered in 1923. Unfortunately, when antibiotics became readily available and cheap, tea tree oil went out of fashion. Now with the advent of antibiotic resistant superbugs, the world has become interested in this excellent native remedy again. The crushed leaves and oil can be diluted to treat cuts and wounds, or can be inhaled to help congestion and respiratory tract infections.
  1. Macadamia nuts. Native to South East Queensland, macadamia nuts are Australia’s only native, edible commercial crop. I may be a bit biased here but these are the yummiest of all nuts. Macadamia nuts are full of monounsaturated fats which can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. They are also loaded with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This is THE perfect food.
  1. Lemon scented myrtle. Native to coastal Queensland. The leaves can be made into a tea that is said to have a relaxing effect. You have to eat lemon myrtle, macadamia and white choc cookies with the tea of course.
  1. Lilly Pilly. These trees grow from NSW to Cairns in Queensland. Crushed berries were used to treat sore ears. Very messy and very pink!

Lilly Pilly berries can be made into the most gorgeous pink-coloured cordial, absolutely perfect for little girl’s parties. No need for ADHD inducing red food colouring here, so this cordial will also make you very popular amongst the mothers of the other six year olds at your little girl’s school.


Here’s a recipe: LILLY PILLY CORDIAL



2 cups lilly pilly berries

4 cups water

1 teaspoon tartaric acid

2 cups sugar

Juice of 2 lemons



Put the lilly pillies, water, tartaric acid, sugar and lemon juice into a stainless steel saucepan. (Tip: pick the lilly pillies when they’ve just changed colour. If left to ripen for too long they will become bitter.) Boil for about 5 minutes, or until the lilly pillies are just starting to soften. Mash the fruit, then tip the mixture into a strainer and strain out the lumps. Pour the liquid into sterilised bottles. Use like ordinary cordial – put a splash in a glass and add water to taste.

Note: The cordial should keep for at least two weeks, and possibly longer. Remember it doesn’t contain preservatives, so it won’t last as long as shop bought cordial. Best to keep it in the fridge. If it starts to bubble, turn cloudy, or looks or smells in any way odd or different from yesterday, throw it out. If possible, use several small bottles rather than one or two large bottles, as the fewer times your cordial is opened, the longer it may keep. If you want to make a really big batch, it’s best to freeze it until needed.

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