National Arboretum Canberra


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Glenn McGrath Foundation

On 7 November 2011, Glenn McGrath from the McGrath Foundation; Matt Kilby from Global Land Repair (GLR); Beverly Hand, an Aboriginal Elder from the Bunya Mountains; Agnes Shea, a Ngunnawal Elder and breast care nurse Kerryn Ernst joined Ms Gai Brodtmann MP, Member for Canberra, in planting two Bunya trees, Arauacaria bidwillii, in the Bunya pine Forest 71 at the National Arboretum Canberra. ACT Minister for Women Ms Joy Burch MLA officiated at the ceremony. 

The planting of these trees marked the creation of 'Plant Pink Friendship', a partnership between the McGrath Foundation and Global Land Repair which raises funds for specialist breast care nurses to support women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Matt Kilby presented Glenn McGrath with a cheque to go towards providing more specialty nurses.

Image of Matt Kilby presenting Glenn McGrath with a cheque to go towards providing more specialty nurses 

As part of the partnership, Global Land Repair print the McGrath Foundation logo on their tree guards and donate a percentage of the profits from the tree guard sales to the McGrath Foundation.

The Bunya pine, Araucaria bidwillii

The Bunya pine, Araucaria bidwillii, is native to two small populations in south eastern Queensland. The trees grow to a height of 30–45 metres with cones the size of footballs which contain the edible kernels.

bunya tree  

It has been a sacred tree for indigenous Australians for a long time and an important source of food, timber and fibre.

Indigenous Australians eat the nut of the bunya tree both raw and cooked. Traditionally, the nuts were ground and made into a paste, which was eaten directly or cooked in hot coals to make bread. Indigenous Australians also ate bunya shoots, and utilised the trees' bark as kindling.

Fruit bunya tree fruit

Groves of Bunya trees were often under particular tribal ownership and as the fruit ripened, indigenous people who were bound by custodial obligations and rights, sent out messengers to invite people from hundreds of kilometres to meet at specific sites in the Bon-yi Mountains (Bunya Mountains) to feast on the kernels.

Many different tribal groups – up to thousands of people – would travel great distances from as far as Charleville, Dubbo, Bundaberg and Grafton to the gatherings. They stayed for months, to celebrate and feast on the bunya nut.

The bunya gatherings involved ceremonies; discussions and negotiations over law, marriage and regional issues; dispute settlements and the trading of goods.

Over time, most of the Bunya forests were felled for timber and cleared to make way for cultivation by non-indigenous settlers.

Indigenous groups such as the Wakka Wakka, Githabul, Kabi Kabi, Jarowair, Gooreng Gooreng, Butchella, Quandamooka, Barrangum, Yiman and Willi Willi traditional owners continue their cultural and spiritual connections to the Bunya Mountains to this day.

A number of strategies including the use of traditional ecological knowledge have been incorporated into the current management practices of the national park and conservation reserves with the Bunya Murri Ranger project currently operating in the Bunya Mountains.

Other uses

Since the mid-1990s, the Australian company Maton has used bunya for the soundboards of its BG808CL Performer acoustic guitars. The Cole Clark company, also Australian, uses bunya for the majority of its acoustic guitar soundboards. The timber is valued by cabinet makers and woodworkers, and has been used for carpentry and furniture for over a century.

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