Although thousands of people are paid large salaries at our universities and museums & publicly funded bureaucracies like AIATSIS and the ABC none provide help & mostly don’t even bother to reply to emails. The exception is the NLA (National Library of Australia) that archives this website so the CMTs will always be accessible on TROVE via the “waybackmachine”. Scar Trees | Scar trees has been saved 43 times between Jan 2017 & June 2022 so all those nearly 15,000 photos will be within reach as will my blogs. So I say this to you negligent academics & public servants, for posterity – Why don’t you spend less time on acknowledgements to country and more time answering emails? Less on fancy website graphics + brand promotion & more on research. Less on political/ moral virtue signaling & more on doing your actual job?
The worst offenders here would be the ABC – None of these programes have responded -ABC Science Online: The Lab, News in Science, Catalyst, Landline (many times), All in the Mind, Conversations & The country hour. AIATSIS website answers nothing & DEADLY SCIENCE doesn’t get back, ditto the KOORI MAIL. Don’t you reply to whitefellas? Women? Farmers? If you have never googled ‘scartrees’ or ‘scarred trees’ & you work in this space you are simply not doing your job. The people here scarred trees, fashioned them into rings & planted other trees inside them. Sometimes they even did all of these things to one tree. The ancestors should have their skills recognised and their descendants should benefit. If the referendum on the ‘voice’ fails this parliamentary term you have only yourselves to blame for promoting a political agenda over publicising the most awesome & longest surviving culture in existence.
Enough cranky business – now Ive coughed that up Id like to spend the rest of this blog writing about my favourite thing – the Trees in Trees. Ive been wondering if you’ve been wondering how I could have missed seeing the 400 or so TinTs under my nose when I first started this website in 2016? At first I didn’t actively look for CMTs but they are so in your face I couldn’t help running into them while mustering sheep. Then I started to look around the scar tree clusters & discovered ringtrees were often there too. My love affair with ringtrees cooled when I started recording the TinTs. The best camps are along the paleochannel because the underground water was permanent. More reliable even than the rivers that failed in extreme drought.
The thing with the paleochannel / subterranean river country is that it’s a different ecosystem. Plants & trees grow in the sand that don’t grow on the claypans & floodplains. Like the Australian Indigo – Indigofera australis
And the broad leaf Hop bush – Dodonaea viscosa seen here with Allan Tighe.Trees in the sandhills grow much bigger when their roots are down in the underground water. Redgums also thrive in some spots and these eucalypts are normally never found away from the river.
Redgums can be both hosts & guests in the TinT alternative universe, as can leopardwoods & belar trees & all 3 can be coaxed into forming ‘rings’ . Nature is strange but Aboriginal science is even stranger!
Trees in the sandhills grow much bigger when their roots are down in the underground water & they are essentially drought proof. All these big trees & thick vegetation make it hard to keep livestock together in a flock/ group. Like the Man from Snowy river poem, you “may bid the mob good day” if you linger in the sandhills. Graziers ie sheep/ cattle/ goat ‘ranchers’ to use the USA term, look under & around the trees when searching for livestock. If there was an elephant wearing a pink tutu dancing above a bunch of trees we probably wouldn’t see it. Telinebone paddock, with its long defunct wells, is over 5000 acres/ 2000ish hectares with thousands of trees, so mustering requires concentration. Unlike the ranchers in America we have bugger all labor so mostly Im mustering on my own. Not making excuses but we have thousands of trees & not much time. Im a farmer – we can grow a dozen different crops, have several different sheep breeds & various types of cattle. If you are a botanist & growing trees in other trees is not your ‘exact’ field – then I suggest you branch out.
Our eyes tend to see what they expect to see or rather our brains interpret the images through the filter of our experience. Different species of trees here like to grow in very close proximity so you get used to seeing their different foliage mixed in together. There is a whitewood growing in a box tree here for example – hidden in plain sight. I have driven past this TinT a hundred times but only saw it when I got bogged there mustering Cumbul this week.
I think this is why I didn’t find the dozen or so TinTs leading up to the main camp at the wells until 2020. It soon became bleeding obvious that these TinTs were man-made not a product of birdshit. So I have been trying to get help & recognition for the TinTs ever since but have been ignored by the very people who claim -or their websites claim- to empower Aboriginal people. The “shoulda beens”, some of whom belong to the Kamilaroi (Gomeroi) nation have let me & more importantly their own mob down. Botany is a science – as is growing trees in other trees for memorials, for directions, for trade, for X-breeding or simply because they liked the look of them. This has been done by brilliant Aboriginal citizen scientists in the past– you don’t need a white coat & specs to be a scientist you know…. you just need to be curious.
One last thing – for those of you with a botanical background or are just curious about gomeroi culture – there are 4 eucalypt species here & they all support guest trees. I know of only 1 redgum host living in the sanctuary but at least 20 coolabah hosts on Gingie & 100 or so blackbox hosts over the river on Wailwun land. The vast majority of TinT hosts here are bimble box or poplar box as its known in Qld. The most populous guest species are wilga & peach bush, yet none grow in coolabahs – there are some peach bush suckered up into dead coolabahs but not live ones as far as I know. So I ask you this: do eucalypt hosts discriminate in some way or did the ancestors only attempt certain tree combinations? Is there something intrinsic to coolabah crotches that only allow currant bush, bumble, whitewood, rosewood, boobialla to live within? Or are box trees just less fussy about their guests? Get involved, get curious & do your goddam job …