Preservation of Carved Trees in the Queensland Wet Tropics

04th December 2013

Buhrich etal 2013Dendroglyphs are rare in northern Australia. In 1989 a recording program in the Queensland Wet Tropical rainforest led by Gordon Grimwade located only six sites, mostly single trees in the Jirrbal and Mamu cultural estates. This project investigates the preservation of the dendroglyphs by comparing records of two sites over time, a cluster of carved trees on the Mamu cultural estate and a single carving on the Jirrbal estate which had been cast in 1991. In the Mamu cluster, seven carved trees were identified by Forestry in 1969, but only three carved trees were found in 1989. Four were presumed to have been destroyed by Cyclone Winifred. This area has borne the brunt of two major cyclones since, and was considered a good place to explore the impact of extreme climatic events on this rare cultural resource. A cast of the Jirrbal carving was made by Grimwade and his team in 1991. We directly compared the cast with the living dendroglyh to measure how the carving is regrowing over time. The results show how important it is to monitor sites before making assumptions about preservation. All of the original seven carved trees were found on the Mamu estate, suggesting they are more resilient to cyclones than expected. Measurements of the Jirrbal carving shows the width is essentially stable over 22 years.

Citation for this poster:

Buhrich, A., Mamu and Jirrbal Traditional Owners 2013 Preservation of Carved Trees in the Queensland Wet Tropics. Poster presented at the AAA Annual Conference, 2-4 December, Coffs Harbour.

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