Beyond Bunya Dieback – Hinterland Bunyas

 In About My Work, Exhibitions

The silhouette of a magnificent Araucaria bidwillii, or bunya tree, crown against the skies of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is an iconic sight.

I have lived in Maleny, the heart of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, for nearly 15 years and will never tire of their statuesque grace. But there is a problem …

Bunya Dieback

In South East Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland and the Bunya Mountains, bunya trees are experiencing dieback. This dieback is a concerning trend attributed to environmental stressors like climate, habitat disturbance and invasive species. These iconic trees, vital to the local ecosystem and Indigenous culture, face heightened vulnerability due to drought, heat, flooding rains and human activities. Dieback threatens biodiversity and cultural traditions reliant on Bunya trees for food and ceremonies. Conservation efforts including monitoring and community involvement aim to address the issue, but comprehensive strategies considering environmental and socio-economic factors are crucial for ensuring the long-term health and resilience of bunya trees in the region.

Local Maleny business Brush Turkey Enterprises are passionate about conservation and restoration of native vegetation, and spearheaded the inaugural Bunya Dieback Symposium in Maleny last week. The symposium bought together Traditional Owners, soil pathologists, conservationists, researchers and government and international representatives to share insights and collaborate about shaping the future of bunya conservation. Brush Turkey wrote about the dieback problem in 2021 in an article Are We Facing Bunyageddon!

The photo above shows 1 of my favourite groupings of Bunyas in the Hinterland. The photo below shows the tragic outcome of 2 trees not far from my home that have succumb to the dieback problem. I don’t know how old those trees are (I do know they can live for 600+ years), but they went from seemingly healthy to this state very quickly over the past 12 months.

Beyond Bunya Dieback

Complimenting the Symposium is a group art exhibition at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, ‘Beyond Bunya Dieback’.

Beyond Bunya Dieback - exhibition

The exhibition brings together 16 artists to showcase the majesty and uniqueness of these iconic trees.

Printmaking, painting, textiles, interactive sound and 3D artworks are on show.

Exhibition dates: 29 February – 17 March, 10am-3pm
Venue: Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Mountain View Rd, Maleny – Jinabara Country
FREE Opening event Saturday 2 March 2-4pm

I submitted a few works for this exhibition. I adore these trees, and was thrilled to have been invited to participate. Below is some information about my works.

Hinterland Bunyas

I have many, many, many photos of bunya trees from in and around the Hinterland. I created a series of small metal plate etchings of my favourite tree profiles, then printed a small variable edition of 3 prints with different plate compositions.

The plates were inked intaglio, then rolled with a relief ink on top before printing them with Pauline, my etching press. Once printed I ran the print through the press again to emboss a silhouette of a dead bunya tree. As tragic as the death of these trees is, I can’t help but marvel in the beauty of the striking sculptural skeletal remains of the dead tree.

Title: Hinterland Bunyas
Size: 56cm x 38cm
Printed: 2024 on Pescia 300gsm printmaking paper
Edition size: Limited edition variable of 3 prints

Below are some process photos for my Hinterland Bunya prints. I enjoyed playing around with different plate configurations and compositions.

Sunset on Burgum

Still working with the assistance of Pauline, my etching press, I took a different process approach and created a series of monotype prints. There are 12 in the series.

I cut several stencils of trees near my home – both dead and alive. These stencils were used as printing plates and masks, printing multiple layers of print and ghost print to achieve the striking monotype results.

The colours used are the colours of the sunsets I enjoy from my home.

But the soft pinks and blues of a hinterland sunset can’t soften the sadness in the decline of the magnificent bunya.

Title: Sunset on Burgum
Size: 28cm x 28.5cm
Printed: 2024 on Stonehenge 245gsm printmaking paper

Hope for Bunya Conservation

There is hope! Through the tireless efforts of individuals and different entities, private, government and overseas, the conversation has started.

There is hope that all parties can and will work together to conserve these cultural icons.

If you are located in an appropriate growing area, you can plant bunya pine seedlings. Individuals can buy a bunya tree to plant from Forest Heart ecoNursery in Maleny. Business and wholesale enquires can be made with Brush Turkey Enterprises, located at Reeseville, just 10 minutes out of Maleny.

Below are bunya seedlings … ready to plant to see in a new generation of these magnificent trees.

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  • Joolie Gibbs

    Kym, I love your bunya work. The sight of those trees dying is heartbreaking.
    I also have a love affair with the Bunyas, the Hoops, the kauris….. and on it goes.

    One day I will make it to your studio, but I hear lots from others who have been there.I am also in Papermakers of Queensland, so Ann has mentioned her workshop with you.

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