The Pindan walnut (Terminalia cunninghamii), also known as the “Kalumburu almond,” is native to the north western coast of Australia above the Tropic of Capricorn and has been in existence for millions of years, a native of the super continent Gondwana. Known and used by indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years, it is a relatively recent discovery by Europeans and their descendents.
The local Karajarri people call the nut “Kumpaja.” Eaten raw, the kernel of the nut tastes like almond, but when roasted it tastes like cashew nuts. It is mostly eaten raw. Around thickets of wild trees, it is not unusual to find a carpet of nutshells next to a stone “anvil” with a depression in it and stone “hammers” nearby used to conveniently crack the nuts.
It is largely harvested from the wild, with no necessity for picking. When ripe, the nuts fall from the trees, where they can remain on the ground and viable for many months, even years in drier areas. For this reason, the nut is an important and prized food as it is available virtually all year round.
The process leading to extinction of these plants, which have now been reduced to isolated pockets, is still occurring, even accelerating. Massive industrial expansion, mainly mining and the increasing incidence of wildfires across the landscape due to the cessation of traditional Aboriginal burning practices have placed its contemporary habitat under severe threat.