UniSQ 26 January 2024
Highlighting to Study Toowoomba’s International student, Hasara Silva, and local residents Jen and Ben the extraordinary food survival techniques and diversity of First Nations people of the Darling Downs region was a very respectful way to start Australia Day 2024.
The Gumbi Gumbi Plant Trail is a wonderful initiative open to the public to the right of the main entrance to the University off West Street. Car parking to the right of the avenue of flags is easily accessible and allows direct access to the Information Board and the beginning of the trail.
Being conscious of the January summer heat it was important to start the walk early in the morning and to have plenty of water on hand – though the bubblers throughout the trail are very convenient. The recent rains had given a nourishing growth spurt to the well- established gardens, and the diversity of flowers and fruits was on display – enticing birdlife to the ecosystem which has become such a familiar and respected Toowoomba attraction.
Hasara was able to share comparative examples of similar plants and fruits with her native Sri Lankan ones, and it was a relaxing stroll through this often overlooked landscape. As well as appreciating the information boards at the base of the trees, we learnt of the uses and things to avoid of the many varieties which have been grown here. From the crunch of the Lilly Pilly, the interesting cycles of the Macadamia and Bunya nuts to the native rosella and abundant figs, the trail opened our eyes to how these would have sustained the local peoples for thousands of years.
While learning about the uses for weaving containers to fishing and tool making from the various rushes etc, we meandered along the trail to the Yarning Circle where groups gather to share stories carried down through the generations and to provide a truly democratic system of listening to everyone, mulling over the issues of the day or taking in quiet moments of reflection. The thoughtful design allows for many places of meditation and walking lightly upon the earth. This was a very gentle way of introducing native flora and First Nation cultural ways to our international students and locals as well.