Im re reading a great Australian classic written in 1959 by Dame Mary Durack – Kings in grass castles. I thought the biography of her Grandfather & other pioneering relatives may give some insight into CMTs but Gomeroi lands are too far south and east to be relevant to the story. Around the time that book was published there is a 50% likelihood that the small guest Quinine (the one I sent to the US for carbon dating) was being planted inside a bimblebox about a mile from here. Previous dates from the Waikato lab in NZ gave the likelihood of this little (4cm diameter) guest tree being over 60 years old as only about 2%. Alyssa Tate, M.S. Director of Laboratory Operations at DirectAMS Washington State USA, when referring to the Quinine’s carbon graph says “..both the late 1990s and that little blip in 1958/59 are equally plausible based on the carbon ratios.”
The problem with undocumented localized knowledge is that when a small group of people who were doing this or that or discovered this or that in a non-literate society and these people die, the practices & knowledge can be lost. Traditional practices & languages were not encouraged by the new European landlords and not considered relevant to modern rural life. Whitefella medicines, diets, housing & cultural mores were adopted throughout this area so why would the next generation be interested in bush tucker & bush medicines? It was common knowledge when I was a child that Aboriginal women were exceptional gardeners & could strike cuttings off any plants. With plentiful artesian water & new weirs to store the river water the art of growing trees inside others could easily have been forgotten.
Now the reason I think these carbon dates (costing $299 USD) are so exciting is that the anthropological argument re the TinTs (or at least this small Quinine TinT) is greatly strengthened. Allan Tighe tells me his family left the property next door “KeeKee” in the early 1960s & lots of people came to live at the Namoi reserve (aka Namoi village) in the mid 60s. If the Quinine seed/seedling was planted in the base of the bimblebox in 1958/59 and was only 4 cm across by 2020 this works out at a growth rate of about 0.6 mm per year. This is even slower than the Gidgee that grows at about 1 mm a year? Of course the guest Quinine has to compete for water/light/nutrients with its box host that was probably over 180 yrs old at the time… “Hollows of a medium size and suitable for animals such as parrots will take around 200 years to form, and the larger and deeper hollows occupied by glossy black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus lathami) and other larger animals such as masked owls (Tyto novaehollandiae) can take a lot longer “(Mackowski 1984; Menkorst 1984; and Scotts 1991).
Not just academics and public servants but all Australians have failed & still fail to see the intergenerational genius of these master manipulators of trees. I know from the Gingie manager’s diaries of the 1880s ( J.R.Fulton diaries April 1882 – Dec 1887 from the State Library) how much time went into taking levels and deciding where to site a new tank (dam). How much more time & labour went into digging out topsoil then clay with horse drawn scoops. Imagine if the white settlers/squatters had just sought out the Ringtrees on these flat dry north western plains that indicated the natural water catchments? Imagine if instead of trying to control invasive scrub with ringbarking & later bulldozers, the whitefellas had continued the burning practices of the traditional owners? Imagine if we had actually learned to respect what the people did to stay alive for thousands of years out here?
Speaking of recovering academics, Jen Silcock & Russell & Rowan will be back around Easter 2021. Jen tells me “peer-reviewed papers are the major currency of academia, so if we are able to get one published, that will be the best way of raising the profile and putting the case for funding”. She also says “I agree that lack of ethnographic literature/local knowledge does not mean much given the frontier history and how fragmented the early ethnographic record is, i.e. with the notable exception of Katie Langloh-Parker, mostly made by white men marching through on their so-called explorations. So the lack of any of these practices in this record is fairly meaningless, as so much would have been completely undocumented particularly if we are talking about specialised and very localised practices. And even more so if it was ‘women’s business’…”
What the Aboriginal people of NthWest NSW did with trees has to be seen to be believed. As there is no “oral” history relating to TinTs and no written ethnographic information, academics wont acknowledge they exist. Where has the ‘intelligentsia’ gone in this country? Instead of curious open minds now we have Universities paying lip service to our Indig. history but the learned Profs & Drs have no curiosity to actually come and see it? Public servants thanking the Elders past & present in every public utterance in whatever ‘nation’ they are speaking in / writing about is political correctness not actual engagement. Wooden ya think people would come and see Gomeroi history as its written on the trees? Well wooden ya?