This native Australian food comes from the football sized female seed cone of the remarkable bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii). The bunya pine grows primarily in Southeast Queensland. It grows to a height of 45 metres (148 feet), has a straight slender trunk and a distinctive dome shape to the upper foliage. The cone itself is huge, weighing up to 10 kg (21lb) and made up of 70-80 individual seed pods, giving it a slight resemblance to a pineapple. The cones have a deadly habit of falling silently, garnering them the oft-used nickname, widowmaker.
Although the pine produces bunya nuts each year, it is only every three years that the tree will produce a sizeable crop. It was during this "bunya season" that local Aborigines would put aside tribal issues and gather the bounty. Andrew Petrie made the first European discovery, around 1838 and gave a specimen to John Bidwell who provides the tree with its botanical name.
Once the cone has been broken down into individual segments, the seeds need to be removed and peeled. No easy task I can assure you. This step can be made a little easier by soaking the nuts in warm water. The nuts can be roasted, or boiled and pureed (imagine a nutty mashed potato). I have also successfully dried out the nuts and made a meal (flour) out of them. It made a pleasing substitute for buckwheat flour in blini.