Taste of Kakadu returns with the ultimate menu of Indigenous bush foods and culture

Adam Mccleery: Food and Beverage Industry News

Kakadu – home to the world’s oldest living culture – is preparing to showcase its famed bush tucker in the Top End’s premier Indigenous food and culture festival, A Taste of Kakadu, which will be staged across Kakadu National Park from Saturday 13 May to Sunday 21 May 2023.

The interim program for the 2023 event has been released with a range of events celebrating the heritage and culture of the local Bininj people through a menu of ancient cuisine with modern twists.

The program details can be found here.

Over eight days, visitors will be able to indulge in tasty activities such as canapes and crocs cruises on Yellow Water Billabong, bush tucker walks, ground oven feasts, sampling the first-ever commercial use of the An-marabula (native peach) in a non-alcoholic bellini, and cooking presentations by Fervor.

While food will be the focus, there will be plentiful opportunities to engage in local Bininj/Mungguy culture, with the program including art, music, performance, workshops, and tours of Kakadu’s world-renowned rock art galleries.

Reflecting the festival’s celebration of Indigenous culture, the event is being refreshed with a new name: Karrimanjbekkan An-me Kakadu which means “Taste of Kakadu” in Kundjeyhmi language and is pronounced, “Gahdee-mayn-bek-gun An-me Kakadu”.

Festival highlights include:

  • Opening night at the Festival Hub at Bowali Visitor Centre on Saturday 13 May will include a Bininj/Mungguy Welcome to Country, traditional Bungul (dance) performance, live music from the Wildfire Manwurrk Band, followed by a ground oven feast
  • Crocodiles and barramundi are the two most popular inhabitants of Yellow Water Billabong at Cooinda in Kakadu National Park, and each evening during the Festival there will be a Yellow Water Sunset Canapes Cruise, with the spectacular vista complemented by a delectable array of native-inspired canapes and sparkling wine
  • Kakadu Kitchen founder, Ben Tyler, ALTD Spirits Tim Triggs and Araluen Hagan of 14k Brewery will host a Kakadu native botanicals non-alcoholic drink-making workshop, and Ben will launch the first-ever commercial use of Kakadu peach in the making of a new bellini
  • Fervor’s Paul ‘Yoda’ Iskov returns to Taste of Kakadu with an informative open-air cooking class, creating dishes using native ingredients collected with Kakadu’s Traditional Owners
  • Experience a traditional ground-oven cook-up beside Anbangbang Billabong as guests of the Hunters – a well-known Kakadu ranger family who love sharing their culture and heritage through delicious foods and warm hospitality. Start with a guided tour of rock art and then return for a cultural food presentation and lunch of slow-cooked buffalo, potato, pumpkin, sweet potato and water lilies
  • Join Djurrubbu Rangers for a talk on wild harvesting Kakadu (mandudjmi) plum. The small tart green plums from Terminalia trees growing wild in the bush are known for their high levels of vitamin C and used widely in health foods and cosmetics
  • Anme Arringun ‘Foods We Eat’ presented by Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre. This landmark book is the culmination of decades of work describing the bush tucker and bush medicine of Kakadu National Park. The authors and Kundjeyhmi people have worked closely to photograph and describe 149 plant species: from the toffee-like gum of river wattle to sweet an-badju yams sought by children
  • Native Ingredient-Inspired Cocktails at the Croc – each evening at the Escarpment Bar at Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel (aka The Croc) delicious Kakadu-inspired cocktails will be served made from local ingredients. Try the famous Green Ant Cocktail highly prized for its medicinal and citrus-like qualities, with the humble green ant adding a unique taste sensation
  • Man Me Exhibition: A food-themed art exhibition from local artists at Marrawuddi Gallery in Jabiru. Engaging over 500 artists from in and around Kakadu, Marrawuddi Arts & Culture showcases the culture of the Kakadu and West Arnhem region. The art centre supports artists across different disciplines such as painting, screen-printing, weaving, photography and sculpture
  • Join Kakadu traditional owners as they share the art of weaving, spear making and damper making at Bowali Visitor Centre and Warradjan Cultural Centre. An authentic way of sharing the experiences and knowledge passed down through generations, each participant will be able to bring home their own piece of Kakadu craft
  • Taste of Kakadu inspired buffet will be available at The Escarpment Restaurant in the Mercure Crocodile Hotel at Jabiru. The buffet will showcase the very best flavours from the NT and Kakadu. It will be a celebration of the distinct bush flavours
  • Kakadu’s Indigenous art has been handed down through 65,000 years and today the region boasts a wide range of incredibly talented artists who will share their passion in intimate art workshops at the Ochre Gallery in the Mercure Crocodile Hotel in Jabiru. Local artists will guide participants through the art of indigenous painting, sharing information about the various art styles and meanings behind them, and the opportunity to take home your very own painted canvas
  • Full Moon Feast will be held at Cooinda Lodge on Saturday 6 May, hosted by Kakadu Kitchen chef, Ben Tyler, who will forage Yekke seasonal forage bush foods and present them in a four-course dinner under the stars, accompanied by didgeridoo playing and an Indigenous star interpretation.

Taste of Kakadu is presented by Parks Australia. More events are going to be added to the festival, with updates available here.