Apparently emus like mulberries

 New Year’s Day 2011 was spent on the amazing, flooded Murray River with my family in what is something of an annual event, a boat trip to pick mulberries.

Two ancient mulberry trees planted circa 1850s on an old homestead, are the only things beside a grave to remain from that time. Somehow these stooped trees managed to survive the drought to produce a crop of dark purple berries.

We’ve been coming to these mulberry trees since the mid 80s when my dad, uncle and grandfather built a modern day paddlesteamer. It’s been a pleasant and productive family outing ever since. This year the numbers dwindled to just Mum, Dad, Bro #1, Friday Night Dad and some of Bro #1’s friends, but that just meant more mulberries for me.

I love the amazing feeling of tradition that comes with eating mulberries. There is nothing better than sitting in the higher branches, container in one hand and the other red stained hand transferring warm, ripe mulberries from tree to mouth. I would always be chastised for eating more than ended up in the container, but I guess I paid for that whenever I accidentally ate one of the ants that also loved mulberries.

Emus ahead
Mulberry eating emus ahead

This year, our biggest competition was the emus. I never knew that emus liked mulberries, but it turns out that they do, even when they give them purple seeded diarrhea. As we walked over the hill, the dogs started barking and running towards the two trees, flushing out three emus in the process. At least emus can’t fly, so there were still some berries left for us. Emus are also discerning mulberry eaters and wait for them to ripen before pilfering.

Whilst gravity is increasingly against me, I did relive some childhood moments as I climbed up a branch or two. It wasn’t easy going and my clumsy adult body almost pitched through the web of a giant orb spider. Then I was too scared of both the enormous spider and falling out of the tree that I hardly any picked mulberries from that vantage point.

I picked a few, ate a few and squished a few on my top
Back at the boat we cleaned up. I had brought along some disposable rubber gloves to keep my hands stain free, but if you don’t have gloves when picking mulberries, just rub some green mulberries on the blood red stains on your hands and clothes and they will miraculously disappear!

In the end we managed to get five containers of mulberries, meaning plenty to have with ice cream for dessert, which is my second favourite way to eat them, right after straight from the tree.


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