Araucaria bidwillii| Tonewood Profile | “Bunya”
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Robin Russell added:”A. bidwillii was a sacred tree for the Aboriginal people. The vernacular name is Bunya, Bonye, Bunyi or Bunya-bunya, from various tribes or European variations of the Australian Aboriginal name for the tree. It is also often called Bunya Pine (though this is inaccurate as it is not a pine). The seeds are edible, are similar to pine nuts, and have been an important food resource for Australian Aboriginal people. They are eaten both raw and cooked. Traditionally they were also ground and made into a paste, which was eaten directly or cooked in hot coals to make bread. Groves of the trees were often under particular tribal ownership.”
Although populations of Bunya have been reduced through logging, dam construction and historical clearing, large populations are protected in reserves and parks.
Bunya has an excellent stiffness to weight ratio and is actually 10-20% stronger than Englemann spruce. It lacks differentiation in annular rings due to it’s sub tropical and tropical habitat provides less seasonal climate variation.
Robin Russell added:”Bunya was regarded as a viable alternative to spruce for aircraft manufacture & Bunya is used as a top wood by leading Australian makers including Maton and Cole Clark.”
Rapid growth Bunya maintains these physical properties and coupled with less visible annular rings allows for plantation growth of this topwood. It has a Janka of 650 lbf and a specific gravity of 1.3.
As a tonewood…
Bunya was pioneered by Bradley Clark during his period at the Maton guitar factory. The story goes that in 1998, Clarke discovered through paper research that Bunya had the lightweight and stiff characteristics of a good topwood. (watch for our upcoming Brad Clark interview!)
Bunya topped guitars characteristically have a direct, strong sounding instruments with more midrange compared to spruce guitars.
A plantation resource in South Queensland and Northern NSW ensures a continuing supply of Bunya.
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