Piccies are baskets made out of Piccabeen (Bangalow) Palm fronds. Indigenous Australians made piccies to carry water, food and tools. They are relatively easy to make and are a great project to connect kids to nature and Australia’s indigenous heritage. There are several different ways to make a piccie, here is one way.
Piccabeen Palms on the Blackall Range. Photo by Laurent, Flickr CC BY -ND2.0
1. Find a large, fallen, dry Piccabeen Palm frond. Do not bend a dry, fallen frond as it will just crack and break.
2.Cut off the leafy section so that you just have the smooth, brown stem (sheath) section, which will be about 40-70 cm in length depending on the size of the frond. Get an adult to help with the cut as sharp secateurs or a pocket knife is needed. Try not to crack the stem when cutting.
3. Soak the stem either in a creek or large bucket for at least one whole day.
4. Bring the stem out of the soak and place on the ground or table with the inner stem facing up. Measure 20 cm from one end, mark a line, and then fold it over flat. Do the same for the other end.
5. Now for the tricky part. Fold one end at the 20 cm line and let it stand straight up. Take the middle of this upright section and pinch a section so that there are two folds on either side of the middle, with a V section sticking out (away from the stem). Then fold the two sides in, like a concertina, so that the top of this upright section looks like a M.
6. Hold the concertinaed end together with a cable tie or string.
7. Pierce a hole through the concertinaed end using a wooden skewer. Then thread some string or a strip of soaked Piccabeen Palm stem through the hole and tie it off.
8. Repeat steps 5-7 for the other end. By concertinaing both ends, the sides should rise up forming a basket.
9. If you want a handle, tie a piece of string or a strip of soaked Piccabeen Palm stem between both ends.
10. Decorate your basket with string patterns or gumnuts by piercing holes in the side of the basket and threading string through.
11. Dry your piccie in the sun.
Mapleton State School students, Cassie (left) and Ellen (right), with teacher Anne Ellrott, proudly show some handmade piccies.
Drawing by Ellen (aged 8)
Along with 42 other primary schools in SEQ, Mapleton State School is a member of the Land for Wildlife program.
Photo by Stephanie Reif.