Thursday, September 16, 2010

Memories of Manna

Sugar from the Gods, or perhaps sugar from insects!

A summer ritual, when we were kids. Go to the pool, once the days heat had passed – go for a bike ride and collect the fallen ‘sugar’ – it was white globules of a sweet manna. Which is really a sap excretion from the Ribbon or Manna Eucalyptus Tree.

I don’t remember how I found out about, or when or even who told me. It just seemed natural. We even used to go prepared with a little white paper bag – you know the ones the lollies used to come in when for 20 cents, you’d fill the bag to over-flowing with lollies? Well we’d go and fill that ½ full maybe and get our natural sugar fix from trees located within the township I grew up.

Those trees are now gone. All of them, all the ‘good’ ones are gone. Not because of development, but because of bushfire. I just thought of it now. It hit me like a sledge hammer.

Weird. When I was back in town I used to go for a ‘browse’ occasionally. I can no longer.

Manna has been used for a life-time by the Aboriginal people of Australia, they collected it once the manna had fallen to the ground and consumed accordingly. Australian settlers were also quite fond of it and it’s rumoured that some trees could produce 40lb (20kg) of manna a day.

Manna is a sap excreted by the tree, wither naturally or with the assistance of boring insects, that would injure the tree and the sap would form. Once it was dry – it would drop to the ground, waiting for be picked up, by either human or animal.

Sugar Gliders like the sugar content, which can be as high as 15%, many other creatures also like it, including ants.

As a human child, only the pure snow-white ones where good. The slightly off-colour ones, although nothing was wrong with them, you learned they were not quite as sweet as the pure white ones.

Most pieces were the size of something slightly larger than a match head, other pieces were considerably bigger and they were like trophies.

The memories of growing up and a changing world, be it through development or advancement or natural disaster, hang onto those memories and teach your children. The old ways may seem foreign, but they are the simple ways and the simple things in life bring much pleasure.

(Unfortunately I’m unable to locate a photo for reference, but will try to source one sometime in the near future)


  1. How lovely of a story. i didn't even know this existed... how sad that it has now been all burned out. Will the trees grow back? So many questions... over coffee one day soon I'm sure.

    Enjoy the time off

  2. Trees will grow back - the ones i'm referring to were near the river and they have gone now. I'm sure other trees will replace them, in different locations, but it won't be something that I'll actively chase. Getting to old and silly to do that now.
    It was just something that I remembered and at the same time forget about if that makes sense.

    thanks for the comments - and YES having a ball!