Sharman Parsons sells bunya nut soup and damper at the Stroll and Swing during Jumpers and Jazz 2019.
Sharman Parsons sells bunya nut soup and damper at the Stroll and Swing during Jumpers and Jazz 2019. Elyse Wurm

Protein-rich native food put back on the menu

A NATIVE food laden with nutrients that used to grow in abundance across the southern part of our state has long been diminished, but Sharman Parsons is serving up modern dishes to help revive its use.

Ms Parsons says the bunya nut is a well-known native indigenous food that used to prompt a ceremonial trek among her ancestors.

Some would travel from as far as South Australia to join the journey.

"Every two or three years they used to go to the Bunya (Mountains) to feast," she said.

"It's a really ceremonial food. They used to walk along the Murray River and up to the Condamine to feast on bunya nuts."

Rather than a long trek to seek out the bunya nuts, Ms Parsons made the food accessible to hundreds at the Celebration of Local Flavours event today.

Serving up bunya nut soup, bunya crepes, bunya marble cakes and more, Ms Parsons said it felt good to share a part of her heritage with others whilst also supporting their health.

Those who used to embark on the trek for the bunya nuts would return with glowing skin, she said.

"Bunya are rich in protein and they have anti-bacterial properties, it's like a legume," Ms Parsons said.

"I love giving bunya to everybody because it's rich in nutrients and it's connected to my ancestors."

Ms Parsons said south-east Queensland used to be covered in bunya trees, but now most of them had been lost through deforestation.

At her home in Maryvale, there are still about 10 trees left, one of which is about 80 years old and a couple of others are about 30 years old.

The bunya nuts for the food she served at the Celebration of Local Flavours, as part of Jumpers and Jazz today, were harvested from her very own trees.

Ms Parsons considered herself lucky to have access to such old trees, as she said bunya nuts could not be harvested from trees until they were about 30 years old.

She said she would love to see the bunya trees returned to the land and she will continue serving the food as a way to connect to her indigenous culture.

"It strengthens me and what I do as an indigenous person," she said.

"It's part of my ideology that if you look after the land, the land looks after you and bunya teaches you that."