Wild Blak Arts – The school experience

Wild Blak Arts: Celebrating Culture is a project between Taungurung woman Cassie Leatham and PeeKdesigns. We are privileged to be on this journey with Cassie.

To prepare for a cultural presentation to schools Cassie spends time making new artefacts that she can use to showcase what she’s all about. She even whips up a batch of roasted wattleseed with lemon myrtle and strawberry gum bush toffees that she can hand out to the students.

“I hope they have a sweet tooth,” says Cassie as she packs up the toffee. We soon find out just how much of a sweet tooth the kids have.

After setting up tables filled with artefacts and bush foods that Cassie has either made or harvested, we sit and wait until the lunch break is over and the kids pile in. The display is impressive and it is great to see this seasoned presenter at work.

To begin with the kids aren’t sure about how to take Cassie’s sense of humor – all sitting back and being quiet. But it doesn’t take long for them to start hanging onto her every word and laughing along with the ‘gammoning’ (joking) going on and after their first taste of her bush toffee they were more than hooked.


First on the hit list is a teacher who is giving some aniseed myrtle to taste… hilarity ensued after Cassie informed everyone that it could induce diarrhea. Second on the hit list are a couple of boys who Cassie paints up in ochre – one with a man symbol and the other boy with a woman with child symbol. This is made even funnier when she tells them the paint wont come off for two weeks. Last on the hit list was the head teacher who took the ‘heat’ test with tasting Mountain pepper berries – to the students disappointment he handled it with ease.

The end of the session was open to the kids who wandered amongst the tables, touched the artefacts and tasted some more of the bush foods (by the end there was no toffee left). They were all so interested in what was around that the kids had to be told that the school bell went off… they just didn’t want to leave.

Some students stayed behind and were given some special treatment – one boy even received one of Cassie’s hand made Stringybark fishing lines with rock sinkers and snake rib-bone hooks. He was suitably shocked with such a generous gift. The girls were so keen for more that they were invited to participate in a women’s weaving workshop the following day.

“It was Deadly! It was amazing,” says Cassie. “I loved it and felt so connected with the community.”