Australia’s very own super-food, Gubinge, is reportedly the highest natural source of vitamin C on the planet.
Known across Northern Australia as Mardorr, Gabiny, Kakadu Plum, Billygoat and Killari Plum, Gubinge is the Aboriginal language name from the Nyal Nyal people of the Kimberly.
With 3000-5000mg of vitamin C per 100g of fruit – over 50 times more than in oranges, this anti-oxidant rich small green fruit has been a traditional source of bush tucker and healing remedies for thousands of years.
The gubinge fruit is packed with goodness, boasting everything from antibacterial and anti-viral qualities to anti carcinogenic effects. Even small amounts consumed daily will help boost the immune system, and ward off winter coughs and colds.
With so much going for it it’s little wonder that the Gubinge fruit is gaining worldwide popularity as a sought after ingredient in food and cosmetics.
But getting this product to market isn’t a straightforward task.
Efforts to cultivate the fruit have produced variable yields with fruit much lower in vitamin C than its wild harvested counterparts. With an irony that sees business bowing to nature and tradition, Gubinge thrives best in the remote and harsh environment of Australia’s Top End and its resistance to being tamed is providing indigenous communities with unique opportunities in this new and expanding industry.
Gubinge is wild harvested in remote areas during the wet season and provides an important occupation for Aboriginal communities during the low tourist season when there is little opportunity for other income. The Gubinge industry is also bringing a revival of traditional land care and a new respect for indigenous knowledge.
At the Twin Lakes Cultural Park in Nyal Nyal country north of Broome, traditional owner Bruno Dann (Winawaal) has formed a partnership to provide Gubinge to Melbourne organic food company Loving Earth.
Bruno Dann practices and teaches others the traditional Nyal Nyal fire burning techniques which help to protect the country and trees like the Gubinge. When the country is managed in the traditional way, fire is used systematically to manage the land in a way that considers all living things. It minimizes the possibility of damaging bushfires which pose a threat to trees, wildlife and special sites.
Wild harvesting and selling bush food is an important component of supporting the conservation and landcare aspirations of Twin Lakes.
Their first product, Nyul Nyul Gubinge was released through the Loving Earth company in 2010. The powder is made from Gubinge they have wild harvested themselves, which is dehydrated at 40ºC for 16 hours before being milled to a powder. The dried powder retains the nutritional goodness of the fresh fruit and can be easily added as an enhancement to juices and smoothies.
Although the market interest for Gubinge is growing, supply can vary from year to year depending upon conditions. Pickers must have a permit to collect fruit and picking is restricted to areas that are completely free from chemical contamination. Harvesting occurs in the wet season between December until May, but excessive rain and winds that are a feature of the region can hinder yields.
Just as the Gubinge industry is gaining recognition developments in the Kimberly, including the proposed Gas Hub at James Price Point, pose new threats. Although James Price Point isn’t the area where Dann himself picks, he has expressed concerns that the development will cause damage to the land and consequently to the fledgling Gubinge industry in the area.
The industry clearly has challenges but the partnership between Loving Earth and growers like Bruno Dann show that the Gubinge fruit can bring amazing health benefits for the consumer that are equally matched by the far reaching cultural benefits to the wild harvesting producer.