Bushland Conservation Management | NEWS
Australia’s very special Bunya Pine
By Kim Morris – Bushland Conservation Management
Every year from December through to March the Bunya Cones are crashing to the ground, with a bumper crop every three years.
Many years ago I was lucky enough to live and work on the Bunya Mountains. My spare time was spent walking the National Park trails, wildlife spotting and my determination to be a wildlife carer and work in the environmental field really took off. The first botanical name I ever learnt was the Bunya Pine – Araucaria bidwillii named after John Bidwill the botanist who first recorded this species. These football sized cones will come crashing through the branches to land heavily on the ground and can cause serious injury if under a falling bunya cone. Inside these cones are many segments that contain the bunya nut. The chef on the mountains would have us open up the nuts with a guillotine and he would grate them into his filling for a Chicken Kiev and pop a roasted nut on top for decoration. They are often enjoyed traditionally in a pot of salted boiling water and the shell splits slightly. Another popular way is to roast them and add a little butter or garlic butter. They can also be grated into baking and the Aboriginal people grind them into a powder to make bread. I find the nut similar to a chestnut with a potato starchy texture. Try them in pesto. These nuts are extremely good for you, very high in protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates and also magnesium and potassium.
During my time on the Bunya Mountains I had observed the Brushtail possums that absolutely loved feasting on these beautiful nuts which is something I have taken on into my own Wildlife Care of Possums and always have a supply in my freezer to supplement my possums while in rehabilitation.
A very special event in cultural history is the Bunya Bunya festival, a gathering of many Aboriginal tribes who would come great distances along the Bunya trail to the Bunya Mountains, the largest stand of Bunya Pines found anywhere in the world. The tribesman would camp for months feasting, trading, exchanging information and ceremonies. There is now a Bunya Mountains Murri Ranger program that ensures places of traditional significance are restored and maintained. Another important smaller feast was also held locally in the Blackall ranges at Baroon Pocket.
The Bunya Pine is an essential food source to many native animals such as Cockatoos, Possums and Rodents and holds a truly special significance for our local indigenous community.