Centennial Parklands is home to about 15,000 trees across Centennial Park, Moore Park and Queens Park. There are Australian figs, evergreen oaks, exotic pines, eucalypts and paperbark trees peppered throughout the Park that visitors enjoy all year round. Many people ask us about one of the more unique trees planted in the Park, the Bunya Pine. Our long-standing volunteer, Diana Picone, put together a quick guide to help visitors get to know the Bunya Pines that can be seen in the Parklands.
What is a Bunya Pine
Bunya is a large evergreen tree that grows to at least 35 metres and can live up to 600 years. The leaves are dark green, glossy, very hard and sharp and as the tree ages it will develop a distinctive dome-shape. The very large cones can grow to 20 – 35 centimetres wide and 10 kilograms. The species is “monoecious” with both the male and female reproductive parts growing on the same tree.
Bunya seeds are released and dispersed as the mature cones disintegrate. They are also dispersed by animals such as cockatoos that have the strength to open the cones. Native bush rats and possums have been seen carrying the seeds around – probably storing them to eat later. It is thought that extinct large animals such as dinosaurs, and later, large mammals ate the seeds, playing an important role in the dispersal of the species.
Aboriginal significance of the tree
Araucaria bidwillii is known as bunya, bonye, bunyi or bunya-bunya in various Australian Aboriginal languages. It is a sacred tree for indigenous Australians and an important source of food, timber and fibre. Traditionally, the nuts were eaten raw or roasted, ground to make bread and also fermented to be eaten as a delicacy.
Groves of Bunya trees were often under particular tribal ownership. As the fruit ripened, the people who were bound by custodial obligations and rights, invited people to meet at specific sites in the Bunya Mountains to feast on the seeds. Up to thousands of people from many different tribal groups would travel great distances to the gatherings and stayed for months to celebrate and feast on bunya seeds. The gatherings involved ceremonies; discussions and negotiations over a range of issues, dispute settlements and the trading of goods. Some traditional owners continue their cultural and spiritual connections to the Bunya Mountains to this day.
A valued resource
Bunya seeds can be bought in grocery shops and stalls around southern Queensland. They are made into a range of foods such as pancakes, biscuits, breads and ‘bunya nut pesto’. The flavour is similar to a roasted chestnut.
The timber is valued by cabinet makers and woodworkers. The trees are hardy and have been planted in parks as far south as Hobart. Bunyas were originally abundant and widespread in south-east Queensland, however, due to agriculture bunyas are now less common. Most wild Bunya populations are now protected in reserves and national parks. Grand Drive near Homestead.
Discover the trees of the Park on a nature walk
Over the next four weeks, we will be hosting Nature Walks inspired by the Japanese art of Forest Bathing. We’ll explore different parts of the Park to reconnect with nature or you can find Bunya Pines growing along Grand Drive near Centennial Homestead.
Help care for our green space
We encourage park visitors to explore and discover the wide range of trees, shrubs and plants growing in the Parklands. Whether you’re on the go, at a picnic site or at one of our food outlets please dispose of rubbish thoughtfully. By being considerate of other visitors and the Parklands wildlife, we preserve the beauty of our green space.
Many of our visitors and several corporate groups have also helped to beautify the space by caring out planting, weeding and rubbish removal in the Parklands. If you are interested in starting a rubbish removal event visit our volunteer website here.
Or become a plogger! The new trend has recently become popular with runners in Australia. Plogging is essentially running, with the additional challenge of picking up any garbage you might see on your way. While the main purpose of plogging is to help beat plastic pollution in your local environment, the activity provides an additional fitness benefit by breaking up your routine.
Learn more about our Sustainable Parklands Project here.