New project explores Woorabinda’s wattleseed potential

Celebrating the launch of the new project. L-R: Lynise Wearne (Greening Australia), Josh Weazel (Mayor, Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council), Steve Kemp (Ghungalu Elder/Traditional Owner), Kalair McArthur (Rural and Remote Development Consultants), Duncan Kerslake (Queensland Government – Deadly Innovation).

Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council is working with Greening Australia, Rural and Remote Development Consultants and Advance Queensland Deadly Innovation to create a community owned and operated commercial-scale wattleseed plantation near the Woorabinda township in Central Queensland.

The launch of the wattleseed plantation project on Friday (5 February 2021) marked a significant milestone for the Woorabinda community in a journey towards self-determination, almost 20 years after the original feasibility study commissioned in 2002 by the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council under the guidance of Ghungalu Elder and former mayor, Steve Kemp.

This was made possible by invaluable in-kind support from Greening Australia’s Reef Aid and Native Seed Services teams, and $40,500 in Deadly Innovation funding from the Queensland Government. The Queensland Government’s Deadly Innovation Strategy supports Indigenous leaders to become agents for change, reflecting the understanding that it is the individual or group that drives transformation and mobilises the community to participate in emergent business opportunities.

Josh Weazel, Mayor of Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, and Ghungalu Elder Steve Kemp at the launch.

Adding to generational, cultural knowledge of wattleseed’s nutritional, medicinal and botanical qualities, this new project will analyse elements such as plant variety, soil type and water usage needed to launch scale-able production of the plant in the community. Designs will also be set in place to establish a trial 1 hectare plantation, and investigate possibilities for further business value-adds for different markets.

Initially the business would supply to seed services and mining rehabilitation markets, but the community’s aspirations also include expansion into native food markets; for example, value-adding by roasting seeds on site and grinding them into meal (creating a low-glycaemic, protein-rich flour from one of Australia’s own superfoods).

Wattleseed can be used for revegetation projects and also has culinary and medicinal qualities.

Currently Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council has over 80% unemployment with the majority of jobs in the public administration, health and education fields. This is an opportunity to create a local industry and employ people with agricultural, horticultural and food manufacturing interests.

Greening Australia is also working with the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, Woorabinda Pastoral Company, Traditional Owners and BHP/BMA to establish a Woorabinda Rangers program, which would complement the seed business through employment pathways in plant identification, seed collection and GPS mapping.

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