Since early days of settlement which started nearly 180 years ago, rural Western Australia has made a significant contribution towards the state’s economic development by providing opportunities for the workforce who, through facing the challenges of our bush and through shear hard ‘yakka’, have founded major exports to countries worldwide. This is a short story of two of our greatest products.
The early settlement embarked on an enormous clearing of the Wheat-belt in the mid 1800’s and exported the Sandalwood that was felled to China. At its peak, more than 15,000 tonnes per annum were exported to Asia each year – this created the early income for the settlement. WA Sandalwood is still exported today but at a reduced rate and is controlled by the West Australian Government.
West Australian Sandalwood essential oil
In the mid 1990’s we saw a return to production of West Australian Sandalwood essential oil – Santalum spicatum – which is today exported to world famous perfume houses to produce the finest fragrances and attars. The need to wild harvest will almost disappear by 2021 when the first of more than 20,000 hectares of plantations commence harvesting. This investment in plantations will almost certainly protect the wild wood for the future as it’s harvesting will not be required to meet the growing demand for WA Sandalwood oil and wood.
By the late 1800’s Merino wool with the finest fibres measured to world class standards and producing exquisite garments of world acclaim had taken over as one of the leading exports. Grown in the drier climates of West Australian it is marked in our history books by shearing teams who wandered across the farming landscape to remove the fleeces and competing to discover the fastest shearer, surprising audiences with the passage of the Long Blow. Like Sandalwood, wool is still an important export for WA though at a reduced rate having been affected by the introduction of synthetic fibres.
These two precious, historic and proudly West Australian commodities are set to work together in the future to provide substantial income for many Australians. The production of wool and sandalwood essential oil have become sustainable industries, benefiting from the hours of research into their increased production.
In the next newsletter we will discuss a range of Sandalwood oils available today – their uses and characteristics and a special offer for our newsletter readers.