Bush medicine – Central Australian Landscape

1. Noreen Hudson (b.1947)
2. Tiara Doolan (b.2002)
Tiara: I have painted central Australian landscape, depicting bush medicines described by my nana.
I really enjoyed painting the bush medicines because usually I paint ordinary landscape of my area, where as with this project I got to focus on mainly painting the different types of bush medicines.
Noreen: When we go to our country near Rutjipma (Mt Sonder, NT) we smell all the trees. It smells like flowers.
Tiara: The bush with the blue flowers I have painted is called Aarra – aarra (Native lemon grass). People with colds drink and inhale lemon grass potions.
The bush with the red flowers I have painted is called Ipaatj-ipaatja (caustic weed, milk weed). The leaves are crushed and boiled, and used to clean the skin.
I have also painted bush tucker, Ntjwi- ampa (flowers of corkwood), and as my nana’s sister suggested, I painted near the creek bed a plant that usually grows nearby gorges.
Noreen: Para Tjalka (River Gum): Every October we get white lollies on the leaves. We eat those. We put a blanket under the tree and shake it to collect. This is used for healing and we put it on sores. Old people used to eat it too.
Tiara: I have personally tried bush oil. It is very oily and yellow. The texture of Vaseline. It is made from gum tree leaves. We mix the leaves and cook them, bring to boil with water. When I was younger I was very sick, so my nana suggested that we go to the witch doctor to help me. He used some oil from boiled gum leaves and animal fat. He then rubbed it on my skin, which helped heal my wound.
Noreen: People that have bad cough can smell the oil to feel better. When we are out on country we collect those leaves, bush medicine, then cook them and mix them with any type of fat. It’s good for your skin – to look nice. Old people know which one is the bush medicine.

*This text was written in consultation with the Western Arrarnta Picture Dictionary/ IAD press

© Copyright for both painting and text remains with the artists and Ngurratjuta Iltja Ntjarra and must not be reproduced without permission.
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Object detail

Skin Name
54.0 x 74.0 cm
Accession Number
Object Type
Named Collection
Medical History Museum Category


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