Hot article Some of the most fertile soils in Australia

Perkins and the Ord River Irrigation System

Good morning class, today we’re going to be learning all about the Ord River Irrigation system.

Oh but Sir, I thought we had double P.E.?!? I’ve brought my trainers in and everything!

Don’t be so ridiculous Perkins! Does this look like a gymnasium to you? If you open your books to page 27 you’ll see that in 1928 a Royal Commission recommended the establishment of a research facility to investigate dry land and irrigated crop production, and the Kimberley research station was later established as a state/commonwealth joint venture.

…I’m sure we had P.E. Sir.

Research was carried out on sugar cane, cotton, rice, sorghum, maize, winter cereals, safflower, linseed, peanuts, lemongrass, kenaf and other fibre crops. In the 1940s an intensive soil survey was carried out, with Cununurra clay reported as the dominant soil type covering 29, 200ha.

…Look, it says so in my time-table.

The Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) comprises approximately 13,000ha of irrigable soils. The first stage of the project was completed in 1973 with the building of the Ord Dam that created Lake Argyle and ensured water supply for an irrigation project of more than 50,000 hectares.

…Sorry Sir, my mistake I’ve got my days mixed. It’s Thursday today isn’t it?

Yes that’s right Perkins. Now if you turn the page you’ll see that the value of irrigated farm activity has increased over the last nine years, with land use in the ORIA comprising sandlewood, citrus, mangoes, melon, pumpkin, hybrid seed, sugar cane and chia. Now Perkins, look at this…..Perkins? PERKINS??!

Over here Sir! With total irrigated farm activity in 2012’s dry season covering 14,294 hectares and a value of $116,153,542, I’m starting my OWN irrigation system!

Oh Perkins, will you ever win?!

Hot article From Paddock to Jar - Boab Chutney

Cooking with Boabs in the Kimberley

The fact that Mandy Dietrich accidently gave me a good old slap on the behind when we first met had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with why I enjoyed meeting her so much (…..well, maybe a little…)

Mandy owns and operates a family-run baby boab chutney and preserve company from her own kitchen and boy oh boy does she love her boabs!

Boab in chutney boab in jam.

A marmalised boab to spread on cooked ham.

Sweet boab relish with distinctive smell.

I reckon she has ‘em on cornflakes as well.

Now I know what you’re thinking Taste Master fans, so listen up…

Baby boabs are the seedling stage of the large boab trees found in the Kimberley region of Australia. The seed of the fruit found in pods attached to the tree, it’s planted and then grown for approximately 16 weeks depending on the season. This produces a tuber up to 30cm long, with succulent edible leaves on top (if you’re confused, the tuber’s kinda like a carrot, and you uproot it in the same way).

The boab tubers are extremely versatile, can be eaten raw or cooked and have a crisp, crunchy texture like that of a water chesnut. The leaves have a nutty flavor and can be used in salads or as a garnish. And for you nutritionists out there, they’re high in iron, potassium and fibre. Mandy has about 20 or so large growing containers in her garden where she cultivates these brand new vegetables, takes them to her kitchen, cleans them, peels them, chops them and makes her chutneys. She’s been running her production line for the past 18 months, and the reason I enjoyed meeting her so much is that she absolutely LOVES it!

It’s this kind of enthusiasm that inspires me.   It looks like it’s inspired her daughter as well as she recently won “Most Interesting Snack” at the Kununurra Agriculture Show (tangy eggplant dip).

So if you’re in Kununurra picking fruit to extend your working holiday visa (great place to do it) or just cruising through in your 4WD, pop in to Boabs in the Kimberley and say hi to Mandy….just watch out for her bum-slapping hands (…..accident, my ar*e!).

Tips and Tricks

Getting to Kununurra

  • Daily flights from Perth via Broome to Kununurra or from Darwin to Kununurra.

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My Insider Tips

  • For the under 30s travelling the world on a working holiday visa, Kununurra offers great seasonal work opportunities.

Hot article Karla the Park Ranger

Perkins the Park Ranger

Good morning class, today’s lesson is Bush Culture and History with Karla the Park Ranger at El Questro Wilderness Park.

Quiet at the back Perkins!   First off, we’re starting with the most distinctive tree of the Kimberley, the Boab. These fellas can live up to anywhere between 4-7,000 years, and if you take one of their seeds and crack it open, you can eat the white fleshy stuff inside. The pith in the fruit tastes similar to dried apple.

But you see the flowers on that tree Perkins? Well don’t eat that. Don’t even TOUCH that! That my lad is what’s known as Caustic Grevillia. One touch and it’ll burn your skin and leave you permanently scarred. Now you don’t want that, do you Perkins?

Ahhhh and here we have the Native Kapok and Rosella flowers. They both have edible petals with the latter said to reduce blood pressure if you mash it up and make it into a strong tea.

OK Perkins, have a look at this

What Sir? THAT Sir?

Yes, that’s right Perkins. Take a closer look at that branch over there and you’ll see lots of ants with green bottoms running along it. Pick one up between thumb and forefinger and put it in your mouth. These green ants are commonly called Electric Ants because of the zingy flavour they have. Eating one is the same kind of sensation as licking the end of a battery, or putting your tongue on a scalextric track, but I wouldn’t recommend either of those of course Perkins!

Wow thank you Sir, when I grow up I’d like to be a park ranger at El Questro! There’s so much to learn and explore about the fascinating bush survival techniques, but I’ve just got one more question Sir…….where are the toilets?

Come now Perkins, any tree’s a ‘lavva-tree’!