Bunya Dreaming

Bunya Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Dreaming

Using Trees as our teacher has led to the Bunya Tree (Araucaria bidwillii), the iconic tree of South East Queensland. Known as Bunyi/Bonyi in local Kabi Kabi (Gubbi Gubbi) language. The tree is a mighty teacher and holds the story of the history of this place, Tamsin Kerr wrote a beautiful piece about Beverly Hand and the Bunya Dreaming “Today’s lesson is brought to you by the letter B: Botany, Beverly, Bidwill and Bunyawww.sagemagazine.org 2016

Beverly Hand Photo by James Muller Beverly Hand Photo by James Muller

The Bunya Dreaming is a long tradition, and has been celebrated for centuries. Mostly, we know about it from the written reports, letters, and laws from the nineteenth century. By the early 20th century, institutionalisation of the Cherbourg reservation had decimated the bunya gatherings. But despite claims of the last gathering being in the 1840s, the 1870s, the1900s, and the 1940s, both the inhabitation and the celebration of country continue, dependent as always upon a strong personality determined to keep tradition alive: Fred Emery revived and created new songs and dances in the 1940s; his great granddaughter Beverly Hand adds her contemporary energy for reconciliation to this long practice.” Read More 

There is also a small section relating to the traditional stories of this tree in the book ‘In the Tracks of a Rainbow’ by Robin A Wells.

“The Bonyi (bunya) and the Kuloloi (Cypress pine), being rivals, at one time had a great fight. Kuloloi said, ‘Wenyo ngalibo bun-go nyanandigo?’

‘Where (are) we the fight going to have?’

Bonyi replied,

‘Korange nyanandi Korawiga’

‘There is the place at Fraser Island’

Then they began to fight and Bonyi speared Kuloloi low down, and hence all the lower branches are like spears. As for Bonyi, it was speared high up which accounts for the lower part of the stem being clear of branches to this day.

Bunya Inspiration Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Cone Artist Cathy Keys Photo by Tim Johnson

The Bunya Dreaming Festival, became the inspiration for a Tree Place collaboration of artists, stories and culture that was held in the first week of May 2017. The purpose was to create Bunya inspired sculptural work that can be used in the Wan’din’in (Eumundi 2017) Tree Place community exhibition, and also used at the Bunya Dreaming Festival in January 2018.

The collaboration took place at the Cooroora Institute in Cooroy Queensland, on the Saturday of the Collaboration we began the day with ‘Language of Country’ a program of six talks by Beverly Hand sharing contemporary and ancient words and stories about Kabi Kabi Country. As part of this, she shared some of her knowledge about the Bunya tradition, this was a beautiful way for the work to evolve, and highlighted the importance of celebrating and learning about the place of this special tree, and the people that have cared for country and place for thousands of years.

The other artists were Ross Annels (Fine Furniture and Contemporary Wood Artist), Bill Dorman (Metal and Jeweller), Tim Johnson (UK Basket Weaver), Bianca Beetson (Contemporary Indigenous Artist), Mel Stannard (Contemporary Indigenous Artist), Jim Martin (Emerging Artist) and Anne Harris (Contemporary Artist).

Bianca Beetson Photo by Tim Johnson

Bianca Beetson Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Leaf 2 Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Leaf 2 Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Cone Photo by Tim Johnson

Bunya Cone Photo by Tim Johnson

Photo by Tim Johnson

Photo by Tim Johnson

Mel Stannard Photo by Tim Johnson

Mel Stannard Photo by Tim Johnson

A special thanks to Sunshine Coast Council for a RADF grant that helped fund this project.
Arts Queensland

Other References
Cookbook: Parsons R (1999). Creating with Bunya Nuts. From Rosella’s restaurant, Bunya Mts National Park.
http://australianfoodtimeline.com.au/bunya-nut-gathering/
https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/bunya-mountains/culture.html
https://library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Heritage/Indigenous-History/Maroochy-Region (this has a great reading list and links)
https://library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Heritage/Oral-Histories/June-Bond

Oral History
https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/collections/language_bibs/gubbi_gubbi_kabi_kabi_gabi_gabi_dec2014.pdf Selected bibliography of material on Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi / Gabi Gabi language and people held in the AIATSIS Library

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