The Bogong Moth Story
Bogong Moths are a common sight in Canberra during spring when adult moths migrate from the breeding grounds on the plains to the cooler mountain ranges. The Bogong Moth (Agrotis infusa) is brown with unique dark markings and a wingspan of about five centimetres. The moths fly at night and hide in dark crevices during the day. Clustered together like roof tiles, they sleep through the summer in caves. Adult moths feed on nectar from flowers like Grevilleas and prepare for the summer by building fat reserves of up to 60 per cent of their bodyweight.
Bogong Moths were an important source of protein and fat for Aboriginal people in this region. Some say the moths were roasted in hot ashes to burn off the wings and legs, and then mashed into a 'moth meat' which had a nutty walnut taste.
There is evidence of hunting for Bogong Moths in the Tinderry Ranges to the south of Canberra (Eyre 1845) and in the Brindabella Ranges behind Uriarra Homestead (Gale 1927).
Gale reports: ‘I was a caller at the home of Mrs John McDonald of Uriarra who said, "You know the big flat rock, out by the stables? Well, that is Uryarra, which means in local language - running to the feast”.
Aboriginal tribes would gather at the foot of the mountain range. An advance party would hold a ceremony which included much noise making, shouting and activity using bullroarers, after which all the collected tribes would break up into smaller groups and ascend the mountains.