My name is Ysola Best. I’ve only been living on Tamborine Mountain for twenty years. I live in-between my mother’s country and my father’s country. My mother’s country is to the east, to the sea, and the name of my mother’s family group was Kombumerri. My father’s family group was the Mununjali, when they lived over Beaudesert way.
I came to live on the mountain with my husband and two sons and we came here to get away from the hectic development occurring on the Gold Coast. We lived on acreage at Mudgeeraba. But the city was fast encroaching on that particular area so we thought we would like to live up here. We think it was a very good decision because it’s still relatively peaceful. We’re not bothered by neighbours and we manage to keep ourselves surrounded by beautiful trees, and hardly see a fence, and we like that.
THE ABORIGINAL PAST
Ysola has been doing a lot of historical research…
Some families who’ve lived here on Tamborine for many, many years have it in their history books that Aboriginal people didn’t use the mountain. I have to disagree with that. The mountain is really significant as far as my family history goes.
My husband is a builder and has worked on jobs all over the mountain and he and my son have found evidence and stone axes that have been worked. We talk to various people who have lived here for a long, long time, about Aboriginal issues, and they reveal that they’ve found lots and lots of evidence themselves that Aboriginal people used the mountain to a great extent. So much so that they’ve left their food-gathering instruments on the mountain.
The mountain’s significance to Aboriginal people was its incredible resources. These are still evident today, which is quite surprising if you think about all the changes to the mountain with development. You can just imagine how many wonderful resources there were here, prior to Europeans moving onto the mountain and rearranging the landscape, so to speak.
Most of the evidence of Aboriginal occupation and use of the land has been collected in very recent years. The stone material, in the form of axes and modified scraping tools, was used for thousands and thousands of years by Aboriginal people. Quite obviously the axes were left in place, which is the habit of the people. They have sites they come back to on a regular basis, to either live in or use. They leave all their cooking implements there, and stone materials for cutting trees and plants.
These materials can be dated back thousands of years. They were used for harvesting plants such as macrozamia and lepidozamia. There’s a very big seed that grows out of this incredibly ancient plant and the seed was cut out with a heavy axe and it went through several processes before it was converted into a flour-like substance to be made into bread.
So there was occupation prior to Europeans coming into the area. I’m not quite sure when the earliest farmers came. The wood-choppers preceded them, in the late 1820s. It would have taken quite a long time to cut the timbers off Tamborine. But it was done. And that in fact began the altering of the landscape.
The thing I remember about these lovely trees, even more than the grandness of their size, is the seedlings . . . Winged seeds that come down in great showers in November. They come twirling down, spiralling down with the sun glinting on them through the tops of the trees. A wonderful sight. I remember my father used to bring them home. Perhaps he was cutting scrub and he’d bring them home for us, the seed on the end of a little wing, and he’d throw it up to the ceiling and down it would come, spiralling down to the floor, and we would try to catch it. Wonderful, and somehow it was like laughter.
There’s some good ones in Palm Grove National Park. It’s mainly those I remember, in that area; that’s where I grew up and therefore I know it. But there are not so many there, and they are not so big, as in the Knoll National Park – simply because Palm Grove was accessible to the early cedar-getters who got cedar and beech from there, back in the 1860s probably, before anybody lived on the mountain.
In fact there’s a wonderful old beech-butt left there from those days, just slowly rotting away. But in the way of beech it’s a dry rot and there’s still solid wood, from 130 years ago. It lasts so wonderfully; it’s a glorious timber. Mostly all gone now. A rare timber.