Continue on from the common or narrow-leafed Lilly Pilly and in the path on the left is the biggest of three Bunya Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii) in the gardens. Bunyas are famous for their delicious nuts, borne in the large female cones at the top of the tree. They were gathered for feasts by the Aboriginals every three years when the heaviest crops occurred. They naturally occur in subtropical rainforests in QLD and since early settlement have been widely planted in southern parts of Australia because of their hardiness.
“Ouch! You’re standing on my roots! Back up, would you? Have a bit of respect – I am a living fossil you know. Oh, I see…that BWA sent you over here to try and cheer me up, didn’t they? Well, I’m fine.”
The Bunya Buyna Pine tree: "Ouch! You’re standing on my roots! Back up, would you? Have a bit of respect – I am a living fossil you know. Oh, I see…that BWA sent you over here to try and cheer me up, didn’t they? Well, I’m fine. So, you can go now. Go on – off you go. Stop fooling around and trying to play jokes on me. I know that you don’t want to listen to me. You young people are always playing pranks and using modern day slang to confuse us elderly people. Well, I’m not going to budge now stop bothering me.
You’re really persistent, aren’t you? You really want to know what an old grumpy tree like me has to say? Well, perhaps I don’t want to say anything. Perhaps I want to just stand here silently like I always have and watch it all unfold. Or maybe what I have to say won’t be what you want to hear – have you ever thought about that?
We bunyas have always been a tree of great celebration. Aboriginal people said we were sacred. When I was younger, I loved nothing more than to give shade. To dance in the wind at weddings. I loved the music and the festivals. Loved the families and the best friends with their new babies laying in the sun or their grandparents in a wheelchair. I’ve seen first dates and last ones. I’ve seen sunrises and sunsets through all the seasons. Oh, how I wish I could do that again. I loved it so much – I would give anything to go back. But now… well I haven’t always been old and grumpy you know.
Those lily pillies and roses, they are always about the blossoms and the blooms. They don’t want to know about the dirt and the grit, so I simply don’t tell them. They think that I’m rude but I’m just protecting them. So, what about you? Do you want to hear it? The truth? Do you really want to know the big secret that all the trees are whispering about? Well ok, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We bunyas grows slowly and live for a long time, sometimes six hundred years or more and sometimes not. Seems that my time is up. Well, heading that way anyway. The truth is…. I’m sick. Like proper sick. It’s in my roots. My roots are rotting. They don’t absorb things like they used to. My leaves aren’t lush anymore. They’re all crumbly and prickly and simply not good. My branches are thinning, and I can’t find the happiness that I used to have anymore. Oh, don’t go getting all sad about it. It happens. Trees die all the time. Circle of life and all that. Everything has a season they say. Well, you know the secret now. Thanks for listening. Feels good to get it off my chest actually. You better go now – keep your fingers crossed, because we might not see each other again. "