Ahakeye Bush Plum Dreaming


Unlike other Dreaming stories where the significance is often kept secret Bush tucker Dreaming stories including the Bush Plum Dreaming are able to be told and seen by anyone including children.

Many women from the Utopian region use the Bush Plum as a central theme for their artworks however their depictions of this Dreaming can vary as each artist adds their own unique style and colouring to the painting.

The Bush Plum also known as Ahakeye is a native shrub found throughout the drier areas of Northern and Central Australia and has great significance to Aboriginal people. The Bush Plum shrub has white flowers and small edible fruits which change colour from green through to purple and black as the fruit ripens. This is why it is often referred to as the black currant or grape. The fruit has small black seeds and women collect and distribute these seeds, scattering them across the desert. This scattering technique whether naturally or by hand is an integral part of desert life as it maintains a continued growth and harvest during the winter months.

Because of its significance as a food source, the Bush Plum is also a totem for many Aboriginal people and has an altyerre (Dreaming story) associated with it. Artists may depict the fruit at different stages which is why so many Bush Plum Dreaming artworks vary in style and colouring.

The tradition of maintaining the stories of the Bush Plum through ceremony and art is extremely important. In the modern world using paintings as a medium allows these women to fulfil their obligations while also educating non-aboriginal people as to the significance of this Dreaming. The ceremony and art associated with the Bush Plum tell of the locations of the shrub, the seasonal stages of the fruit and the ritual of harvesting and sowing.

Paintings depicting the Bush Plum often contain extremely fine dot work which represents the berries at various stages of ripeness and may include lines of white dots which signify the tracks made by the women as they harvest the fruit. An excellent example of this style is works by Polly Nelson Nungala. The following Central Art artist depict Bush Plum Dreaming however their styles, colours and technique vary greatly, they are: Gracie Morton Pwerle, Bessie Purvis Petyarre, Polly Napurrula, and Polly Kngale.

Aboriginal word glossary