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Bush herbs the best medicine

Sandalwood, soap bush, eucalyptus and wattle are just some of the native species collected by a former Brookton lady, making a name for her self specialising in bush medicine.

Vivienne Hansen runs Binyaarns Bush Medicines from Kelmscott, a family business with a focus on collecting bush herbs for health remedies.

“I’m a Balladong girl who grew up in Brookton and spent a lot of time in Quairading, so I have a strong connection to the Wheatbelt,” she said.

Her products range from soaps, ointments, bath salts and a collection of tea bags, all using plants and herbs collected from the Wheatbelt and Darling Scarp.

She is also the author of a book soon to be published by the University of WA on bush medicine.

Mrs Hansen is one of a number of Aboriginal people having input into a new, four year project designed to meet the growing demand for bush tucker and other native species in the Wheatbelt.

The Australian government is funding the project, through natural resource management group Wheatbelt NRM.

“There is a big market out there when it comes to demand for the plants and herbs that already exist in our surrounding bush land,” Vivienne Hansen said.

“I can’t keep up with the demand I have for my products and I’m only a little fish in the ocean.

“We are operating using word of mouth, but already we have customers overseas and throughout Australia, including footballers and country music stars who keep coming back for more.”

Mrs Hansen said she wanted her business to remain a cottage industry, with extra help called in from family when things got busy.

“We have a pickers license through the Department of Parks and Wildlife to collect these plants, but we only take what we need, so there’s some left for next time,”

Mrs Hansen said. Wheatbelt NRM’s Aboriginal NRM Facilitator Kerry Horan said the project was still very much in its infancy, with the first community workshop held in Northam last week.

“We already know there is demand for bush tucker and bush medicine, what we’re doing now is giving the traditional owners of this land the opportunity to make the most of this,” Kerry Horan said.

“That maybe in the form of commercial crops, demonstration plantings or re-stocking remnant vegetation, where these species are already growing.

“We really want the Aboriginal people of the Wheatbelt to drive and own this project, so it will be focused on using Aboriginal held land.

“We’re hoping to start the journey with them so they can benefit from the growing popularity of bush tucker and bush medicine.”