Few plants are hardy enough to survive the red desert plains of central Australia, where the sands can reach 50 degrees and rain evaporates as soon as it falls. But one does more than just survive – spinifex thrives.
The grass is thin, strong and barely needs any rain. Its remarkable properties have long been known to local First Nations communities, who have used the grass to make shelters and beds and its plastic-like resin as glue for spear points. Its tensile strength has since been revealed as five-times that of stainless steel.
First Nations science recognises the value of such knowledge built up in Indigenous communities over tens of thousands of years.