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Bunya Nuts at the Nursery

three people - two shelling bunya nuts

15 February 2012

A chance visit to introduce a longtime Annandale resident to the Nursery lead to a lesson and taste of Bunya Nuts. Bronwen brought in a bag of Bunya Nut segments from the Tree in Callan Park.

bunya nut segments in plastic bagAraucaria bidwillii is a sacred tree for the Aboriginal people. The vernacular name is bunya, bonye, bunyi or bunya-bunya..A. bidwillii has unusual cryptogeal seed germination in which the seeds develop to form an underground tuber from which the aerial shoot later

Each segment contains a kernal in a shell which can be extracted by hand. The kernal needs to be heated - boiled for 10 minutes or in the oven, which causes the shell to split open. The kernal can then be very easily extracted. The Kernal can then be eaten (and tastes like a Chestnut) or roasted.

fingers holding nut kernal fingers holding nut bunya nut kernal in segment of bunya nut red green vegetable material in plastic bag

The Bunya Tree grows to a height of 30-45 metres and the cone which contains the edible kernals, is the size of a football..more at Bunya Feast, Australian Plants Online (viewed 16 February 2012)] The trees fruit at three year intervals ( When the fruit was ripe, the people of the region would set aside differences and gather in the Bon-yi Mountains (Bunya Mountains and Blackall Ranges) to feast on the kernals.

As the fruit ripened, Locals, who were bound by custodial obligations and rights, sent out messengers to invite people from hundreds of kilometres to meet at specific sites. The meetings involved ceremonies, dispute settlements and fights, marriage arrangements and the trading of goods. The Aborigines’ fierce protection of the trees and recoginition of the value of the timber, led to colonial authorities prohibiting settlers from cutting the trees in the 1842. The resource was too valuable, and the aboriginals were driven out of the forests along with the ability to run the festivals. The forests were felled for timber and cleared to make way for cultivation.
Explorer Ludwig Leichhardt who visited the Blackall Ranges in 1843 enthused in his journals over the ‘remarkable mountain brushes, out of which the bunya-bunyas lift their majestic heads, like pillars of the blue vault of heaven’ (McKay and Buckridge 2002: 66). Source: Assimilating the bunya forests Anna Haebich Centre for Public Culture and Ideas, Griffith University, Queensland (viewed 16 February 2012)]


The intact cones are the size of a football. An exclusion zone should be created around the base of any tree that contains cones. -

The sole extant species in Section Bunya. This Section does, however, contain other fossil species, most notably A. mirabilis from the Jurassic Cerra Cuadrado forest in Patagonia. There are no Cenozoic fossils that clearly represent Section Bunya (Smith and Butler 2002).
Nineteenth Century writers called it by a number of quasi-scientific botanical names, including Bidwellianis Junus, Pinus Petrie, Araucaria bidwellia and Araucaria Bunya Bunya (Huth 2002). -

An Australian bunya-bunya tree (Araucaria bidwillii) growing in a park in Carlsbad, California (San Diego County)...The Araucaria Family: Araucariaceae Woods With Beautiful Grains (, viewed 16 February 2012)

Bunya Festival 2012

On this past Saturday we had the pleasure of being at the Bunya Festival. ..Aunty Bev is an elder of the Kabi Kabi people; the Sunshine Coast is their traditional land... Aunty Bev started the Bunya Festival in 2007 and the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre, funded by the festival, prepares and serves the food....It's an invitation only event - and invitations for family groups arrive by message stick. Hundreds of people come along and enjoy a wonderful alcohol-free family day in the sunshine, on the banks of the Baroon Pocket (13 February 2012) viewed 5 March 2012

This page last updated 5 March 2012