So this week the Blue Mountains (my home) made international news when British backpacker and hiker extraordinaire, Jamie Neale was found after spending 12 days out in the bush.   Unfortunately, Jamie isn’t the first to have gone “missing in action” while out exploring this natural playground and I am sure he won’t be the last. The amazing thing was that he managed to survive the sub zero (yes it does get cold in OZ) temperatures, lack of food and fresh water for so long. Most people would perish after only 2-3 days in the same conditions while Jamie walked (or rather hobbled very slowly) out to the relief of his family and the world.

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A good news story, a happy ending?  Well I thought so until the skeptics started to claw around stating that this had to have been faked, nobody could survive those conditions and how it must have been made up as a publicity stunt.  I guess that each of us can make up our own minds in that regard. What I am interested in, and where your survival and skin come in is all to do with Bush Tucker……

How many times have I heard this said in the reporting of the above story: “What on earth did he eat? What could he drink out there? Nothing looks edible in the bush”

Since when did we become so separated from nature?

The Blue Mountains National Park is home to a complete banquet of plants, shrubs and herbs.  Whether you are hungry and need feeding, sick and need healing or just want to rejuvenate your skin, naturally, there is something growing up here. Of course, just walking along and tasting / applying and sipping everything that crosses your path will result in some un-pleasantries but with a little help the bush can not only sustain life, it can make it bloom!

I am not a botanist and have only lived here for five years so I took to the internet for some inspiration and information.  There are many fabulous sites but this one really caught my eye for its simple layout and excellent pictures: Survival.Org.au. Along with a great forum for bush tucker enthusiasts: Bushfoods.net.

While I have no idea, what Jamie actually found to eat nor how he managed to select the good from the bad this website demonstrates the range of edible morsels that may be there to aid the lost and wounded hiker. I mean, who could resist the Wombat Berry? And what about the yummy nectar from the Banksias – any local kid who’s read  “The Magic Pudding” will know a thing or two about these!

And for healing those scratches or blistered feet why not try the beautifully humble Nodding Blue Lily or brew yourself a little medicinal tea to spruce you up using native sarsparilla, great as a detox or purifier.

So, is Beauty in the Bush possible? Of course it is.  The vast majority of our modern day medicines and beauty treatments take their inspiration from nature, using what comes naturally to create products that fit our busy and somewhat dis-connected lifestyles. Wherever we live, we are surrounded by nature’s gifts, our challenge is to remember and nurture that, not forget that it even exists. As for Jamie, I hope that he puts any money that this incident generates to good use and that he is able to get on with living his life.

I am heading out now to pick me some skin savers! Happy foraging to you.

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