AUGUST  25 2017



Western Australia has been given the go ahead on a new sandalwood project that is forecasted to earn more than 40 million in export dollars.   

Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils (DSO) has announced that it will commence supply of sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) oil in December this year.

Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils will take its first delivery of sandalwood from a 10 Year West Australian Government (FPC) supply agreement.   This supply agreement is linked to a 10% royalty into  an Indigenous Foundation that is chartered to maximise Indigenous equity in the Australian sandalwood industry.

Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils has emerged as a new player in the multi-million dollar West Australian sandalwood industry.  DSO is a   company backed by Dutjahn Custodians, Kutkabbuba Aboriginal Corporation and the founders of W. A. Sandalwood Plantations Pty Ltd.  

Negotiations are underway for the company’s  distillation facility to be built in the heart of the WA sandalwood industry near the  Kalgoorlie airport.  

The distillery is expected to produce an annualised minimum 3,000kg of oil in 2018, with substantial increases forecasted in the  following years.  

This is a win-win story for West Australia, the maturing native plantation sector and the local indigenous community.

The partnership offers a new level of security and supply to all current and future users of sandalwood oil. DSO will provide access to a full range of sustainably and ethically sourced sandalwood oils, a welcome reassurance in a market that has had its own issues of late.

WA  Sandalwood  Plantations’  founder and Managing Director  Mr Keith  Drage said:

'When we met the Dutjahn Indigenous stakeholders we immediately identified with their philosophy, vision and dedication to Australian sandalwood. We both seek to reinvigorate Australian sandalwood (spicatum) oil, to assist our customers compound and communicate exceptional perfumes and active cosmeceutical bases that rightfully demand world’s best practice in the supply chain.'

The facility will employ a small team from January 2018. But this number is expected to rise during 2018 depending on the completion of the expansion. In addition the facility will supply roles for local contractors and nearly all of the distillation equipment is being made in regional WA or Perth with only the boiler being brought in from Victoria.

The project also has the support of the Western Australian Government.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Treasurer, Ben Wyatt has welcomed the State Government’s delivery of sandalwood to Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils:

'The McGowan Labor Government is committed to supporting Aboriginal businesses and creating jobs in Aboriginal communities. The joint venture between Dutjahn Custodians and WA Sandalwood Plantations will result in a commercial processing and marketing capability in the Goldfields, which will sustainably use the vast and pristine central desert sandalwood forests to create employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.   This is a fantastic opportunity for the local Aboriginal community, ' he said.

This new venture is expected to receive the support of the global essential oil industry and sets a new benchmark for Indigenous participation and ownership in this traditional West Australian sandalwood essential oil business.

DSO Chairman, Darren Farmer, a  traditional Native Title Holder from the Central Deserts of Australia  said:

'Our people trace back our link to this sacred species to the dawn of humanity. The Central Deserts are the last untapped virgin forests of Dutjahn (sandalwood). This is  more  than  a sacred plant to the Martu and Wongi Nations, it is part of our soul and a key link to our spiritual identity'.

David Brocklehurst, former General Manager of Mt Romance and project manager, said:

'This is an exciting project as it is not often you get the opportunity to build a modern distillation facility with the capability to meet a significant amount of the market demand from inception. This venture will broaden the supply and give buyers, brands and the aromatherapy market a new, quality supplier. The Indigenous partnership in the business makes it a compelling story'  

Media release ends


Traditional Indigenous desert nomads are custodians of the “Dutjahn” - the sacred sandalwood tree of the central West Australian desert.

Unique in the sandalwood arena, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils Indigenous participants are 50% stake holders in the distillery, selling their wood to DSO at full market price and are also beneficiaries in the profits the new venture creates. Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils, as a 50% indigenous owned company, will also reinvigorate Indigenous Certification that was formerly pioneered in Western Australia.

Ken Farmer (deceased) was a first contact Martu Aboriginal man who first came out of the Gibson Desert as a young man in the 1950’s. In the year of his son’s birth (Clinton Farmer -1977) he began harvesting sandalwood (Dutjahn is the Martu word for this sacred tree) from the Gibson Desert.   He inspired second contact Indigenous leaders to pursue his vision.

The Martu and Wongi race have the worst life expectancy in the world. Martu and Wongi men born in 1962 (ABS) will die at an average age of 38 – a number that is a shocking contrast to the rest of society.  The central desert people have lived in harmony with this desert environment for over 20,000 years and so the creation of this new venture is important on several fronts but probably the most important one being their capacity to now have a significant role in the WA sandalwood oil industry.

In August 2017, the Indigenous desert nomads negotiated a large injection of capital into their company - Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils - from the founders of Australia’s largest spicatum sandalwood plantations growers, W.A. Sandalwood Plantations Pty Ltd. This new relationship is built on mutual respect and the knowledge that the old wild trees from the desert areas need to be merged, in production terms, with the new plantation industry  for it to continue to offer a consistent and credible long-term supply of sandalwood oil. This offers a level of security for buyers, brands and perfumers that has not been seen before in the WA sandalwood oil industry.

Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils also successfully tendered for a long-term supply agreement for spicatum wild harvest timber from the WA Government, to complement their own high-grade desert sandalwood from the vast desert homelands (500,000 square kilometres). e supply chain from the spicatum resource in Australia.

Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils new equity partners are Perth businessmen Keith Drage and Ron Mulder who founded WA Sandalwood Plantations in 2001. Working with Australian farmers and investors, they have built a debt free structure that manages 13,000 hectares of spicatum plantations that provide vital mitigation of salinity and other key environmental benefits to regional Australia.

Their pioneering efforts and dedication to Australian sandalwood has resulted in the creation of the world’s largest sustainable spicatum plantation resource that compliments the vast and pristine central desert Dutjahn (sandalwood) forests that have recently been awarded to the Indigenous Central desert people under Native Title Rights.

In 2000,  Dutjahn Custodians worked to establish a chain of custody for sandalwood oil, via a set of protocols and objectives defined by the Indigenous custodians of this vast uncontaminated desert. Implementation of this vision was given streamlined supply chain support to establish Indigenous plant property rights based on the principles established by the United Nations to prevent bio-piracy and enhance bio-diversity.

Indigenous Certification was championed by US beauty heavyweight Estee Lauder in 2004 and subsequently by Givaudan in 2006, leading to the UN Bonne Material Transfer Accord 2006 and the creation of the Natural Resources Stewardship Circle in 2008.


DSO has engaged an expert team, specialised in sandalwood production to work with and liaise with global perfume companies and other appropriate clients.  The team includes Steven Birkbeck, who founded Mt Romance in 1990 and is regarded as a pioneer of Australian sandalwood.  Also joining the team is Mr David Brocklehurst, formerly a General Manager of Mt Romance, with a wealth of experience in distillation plant design, project management and oil sales.


For more information and images, please contact:  

Claudia Bertorello-Kell at Claudia B Promotions

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 0433 114455