Witchitty Grubs – Outback Story #2 9 March 2007

Wednesday night we spent camped out in the desert not too far from some kind of decaying animal. There is a plague of camels in the center right now and they come into the communities looking for water and then die. We didn’t actually see a dead one near our camp and didn’t smell it until after dinner when the wind changed direction. Tim said “Nevermind, you won’t smell it after you go to sleep,” and he was right.

The next day we drove around and waited and drove around some more while Karen tried again to organize our wichetty grub expedition. Finally Maxine and Tjulkiwa (sisters) hopped into the car and we were off. (We found out later that Karen had paid them.)

The temperature was 111 in the shade. Little did we know – the water we had gotten the day before from the bore hole was contaminated and Patricia was not feeling so good. We stopped by the side of the road next to some witchetty grub bushes and had lunch before digging for grubs. Then Tjulkiwa showed us how to dig down to their roots, rip them out of the ground (not difficult if they have witchetty in them because they have been weakened by the grub) and find the grubs hiding in the roots. We collected about 5 beautiful soft, big grubs. Putting them carefully in a cup, we headed back to town, discussing if we were or were not going to try them.

By then Patricia was feeling pretty crappy, and when we got back to town she threw up her breakfast and lunch and was very very grateful when another friend of Karen’s offered the use of a real toilet with running water.

That night we camped in the visitor’s quarters at Kalka – a large tin house that the whitefellows use when they are visiting. Again, we were all so grateful, especially Patricia – it had a shower, an air conditioner (that was not able to keep up with the heat, but better than nothing) and she had a relatively comfortable place to recover from her troubles. Tim was also quite sick from the water and the heat, and I also lost my breakfast and lunch around dinner time that evening.