the next ‘superfood’ … Gubinge

Our project aims have now been pushed by the local media. The basic premise behind our plant nursery in Broome is a part of the ABC item below. We are steadily working this particular species of bush fruit, locally called Gubinge, into a viable business with Savannah Enrichment Orchard plantings:

Bush tucker researchers say the gubinge industry is about to take off, with the fruit tipped to be one of the next big ‘superfoods’ to gain international attention.
Terminalia ferdinandiana

Terminalia ferdinandiana

Terminalia ferdinandiana2

Terminalia hadleyana

A closely related species, Terminalia hadleyana

Terminalia ferdinandiana

Indigenous plants - 0734

Fruit of the Terminalia ferdinandiana, the Gubinge

By Lucy Martin

Bush tucker researchers say the gubinge industry is about to take off, with the fruit tipped to be one of the next big ‘superfoods’ to gain international attention.

Until now the remote location and unreliable supply of the fruit, also known as the Kakadu plum, has hampered efforts to supply it.

But now the fruit’s possible use in cosmetics and medicinal products is attracting fresh attention, with strong interest at a recent Californian food expo, and rumours Chinese interests want to buy 800 tonnes.

Kim Courtenay from the Kimberley Institute said it was inevitable that the fruit, which has been labelled a superfood due its to its high vitamin C content, would take off.

“There’s no doubt it is going to be an industry,” he said.

“I guess our priority is making sure it’s an industry that does give local people the most benefits.”

“After the expo, apparently there were Chinese interests who wanted 800 tonnes. And they said, ‘Well, look, at the moment there’s only about 20 tonnes collected across the entire north of Australia’.”

Kimberley woman Pat Torres, who runs a cooperative that involves local families supplying fruit to health shops and restaurants, said her family had been picking the fruit in the bush around Broome for as long as she could remember.

“If you eat it as a fresh fruit, it has a sweet and a sour sort of taste, and if you cook it, it’s like eating pears and apples cooked up. So it’s hard to really describe what it’s like. You need to taste it, basically,” she said.

“Our families, when we’re collecting it and we’re eating it, can pick for hours because it gives you an incredible burst of energy.

“The fruit has been eaten by locals in the region for 40,000 years.

“The demand by industry far outstrips what we can offer in terms of collecting it from the wild. So we’ve had people from overseas come and check out our trees. And they say they want 50 tonnes in order to do their cosmetics or their medicine.”

Mr Courtenay believes the demand will be met by planting new trees in existing gubinge patches across northern Australia, but thinks the challenge will be transporting it across vast distances.

Anne Shanley from the Kindred Spirits Foundation, which previously helped the Northern Territory community of Wadeye to develop its gubinge industry, is developing the answer to that challenge.

“We need to have fruit coming from Aboriginal communities which have a permit to pick the fruit and it needs to be quality assured. So we need to have proper freezers and proper transport, and be able to track that everything is going well,” she said.

The Kindred Spirits Foundation wants to build gubinge hubs in larger communities across northern Australia, and a central processing plant in Darwin.

It will also create a national co-op for growers, and Ms Shanley says the next step is securing funding from government and the private sector.

In Broome, Ms Torres says Gubinge is an incredible opportunity for Aboriginal people.

But she is anxious to keep the control in Aboriginal hands.

“So much has been taken from Indigenous people, and this is one of the few things left where we can do business with it,” she said.

“We understand the tree, we understand the seasons, we know how to protect it, we know how to collect the fruit.

“This industry can provide us with honest, hard work that we can connect to.”

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley)
This entry was posted in Broome/Kimberley, Environment, Health, science and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to the next ‘superfood’ … Gubinge

  1. dave trimble says:


    Would it be possible to get some seeds, plants, etc, delivered to California? The plant looks similar to a fig to me.

    Dave Trimble
    Sacramento, ca

    • Tom Harley says:

      No, it’s nothing like a fig. It’s semi-deciduous, so needs a dry cool winter and hot wet summer, though fruits longer with extra water. There are a dozen Terminalia species growing in the tropical Kimberley. I may be able to send a few seeds, though they don’t germinate easily, and only when hot.

    • Tom Harley says:

      Sent you an email.

  2. Pingback: boosting indigenous employment, business and profits … Environmental Horticulture | pindanpost

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