Bendigo region - Discovering our Indigenous menu

The Bendigo region is also rich in Indigenous food and culture, as the Jaara and Taungurung custodians have a millennia-old connection to the land and its largeness.

Bendigo - City and Region of Gastronomy series

Recently recognised for its rich culinary culture with a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation, the Bendigo region is a place abundant with markets, restaurants, vineyards, and growers.


Bendigo and Region is Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Country. Recently recognised for its rich culinary culture with a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation, it is a place abundant with markets, restaurants, vineyards and growers. 

The region is also rich in Indigenous food and culture, as the Jaara and Taungurung custodians have a millennia-old connection to the land and its largeness. 

Words by Domani Madigan.


The region is also rich in Indigenous food and culture, as the Jaara and Taungurung custodians have a millennia-old connection to the land and its largess. 

In the Loddon Valley that connection is palpably present, where centuries-old cooking mounds and scar trees dot Lake Boort.  

Local man Paul Haw, named an honorary custodian by the Dja Dja Wurrung People, is safe-keeping cooking implements and sacred artefacts from the area dating back thousands of years at The Keeping Place. Haw also grows and processes edible native grasses and wattleseed of the type that sustained Australia’s First People for epochs.   

Over the last decade, national and international demand for Indigenous ingredients like wattleseed has skyrocketed and a broader appreciation of traditional food knowledge has begun.  

Considering that Indigenous foods thrive in harsh Australian growing environments, are exceptionally nutrient-dense and remarkably flavoursome, it is little wonder they are being celebrated.  

Castlemaine’s  Murnong Mammas offer an opportunity to try the flavours of Country through their catering business, market stalls and spice range. But be warned, their rich, nutty wattleseed biscuits and flavourful ‘bush tucker’ salt mix sell fast.  

Local business owner and Dja Dja Wurrung woman, Sharlee Dunolly-Lee has noted a growth in demand for traditional ingredients. Her  Dja Wonmuruk (Yes, Tea!) range melds black or green tea with distinctive Indigenous flavours.  

The Strawberry Gum and Lemon Myrtle Wonmuruk (tea) is particularly popular, “I think it’s a combination of the native ingredients … with ginger and organic green tea that interests people so much” explains Dunolly-Lee. 

Acclaimed restaurant, Masons of Bendigo , was one of the first businesses to stock the Dja Wonmuruk range. Speaking with ABC news, chef Sonia Anthony enthuses, "There's something about Indigenous foods that have this incredible depth of flavour".   

Ready to try some of the true flavours of Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Country?  

Bridgewater Farmhouse Kitchen stock Donnoly-Lee’s teas, the Murnong Mammas’ spice range plus a number of books exploring Indigenous cuisine. In the shadow of Leanganook (Mt Alexander), Harcourt General Store often pepper the flavours of the region through their menu. Or pop into Masons of Bendigo, sit back and let them pour you a cup of Strawberry Gum Wonmuruk.  

More from this series

Visit series profile