Are You Nuts, A story about Bunya’s
Before I start, I wish to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Bunya Country on which we live, the Jinibarra and Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi peoples. Bunya have been farmed and managed for millennia, they were and still very much are an important and scared source of food and culture. and we are lucky to have had this knowledge shared with us – thank you. Eating Bunyas is best with family and friends, a communal activity in which we can connect with and share the bounty of this land.
I personally rejoice when the Bunya cones start to fall, I don’t rejoice so much that the nuts are falling, but more that they are landing and available to harvest! You certainly don’t want to be under them when they are falling or for that matter waiting to catch them – as they can weigh up to 10kg!
The Bunya Tree (Araucaria bidwillii) is one of the truly ancient members of our local forests. They hark back to the age of dinosaurs and were once widespread across the Australian and are part of the Araucariaceae family, that still survive across many of the southern land masses and include Hoop Pines, Norfolk Pines and Monkey Puzzle Pine. These days Bunya Pine occurs naturally in one tiny patch of north Queensland and more locally as scattered populations between the Sunshine Coast and Kingaroy (Bunya Mountains). Not only are these trees ancient, but quite exclusive about where they live – so we are lucky to share their neighbourhood with them!
These delicious nuts are a great bonus to our diet. The simplest way to cook Bunya Nuts is to boil for twenty minutes, then let them cool down enough to handle. The husk on each individual nut is quite tough and requires a sharp knife and an equally sharp operator. Once you get the knack, you’ll get a taste for bunya that’s hard to keep up with your cutting abilities (Instead of a knife we use a polypipe cutter which for a few dollars is a great investment in saving your fingers).
Bunya Trees are relatively easy to grow. The starchy Bunya nut sends a root deep into the ground where it forms a thick tap root (like a radish) from which the tree shoots. They are a little bit slow to start off with but once they get going can grow a metre or two per year and can be fruiting at 12-15 years – just don’t plant them near your garage, shed, water tank, house etc. for what I hope are obvious reasons… Plant Bunyas now for future generations food and of course so that we will continue to be a home for Bunya’s for millennia to come!