Macadamia farmers celebrate 40 years of commercial growing
CHAMPAGNE corks are popping in Gympie as macadamia growers raise a "roast" to the nation's iconic native nut to celebrate 40 years of commercial growing.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of commercial production, dating back to when the Australian Macadamia Society, the industry body for growers, was first established in 1974.
There are more than 750 growers across the country, including Bauple husband and wife team Cameron and Tracy Wallace.
The Wallaces will be at the Sydney Opera House today as the Australian macadamia industry celebrates its birthday at a national media event, attended by celebrity chefs including Adriano Zumbo, Kylie Kwong, MKR's Karen Martini and Giovanni Pilu.
The Wallace's have been in the industry since 2005, and have become well known for their commitment to clean, green production and biological farming.
They have a 2000-tree plantation, and value-add to their business by roasting the nuts in their commercial kitchen to produce a range of flavoured nuts, muesli and gluten free slices, which are sold locally and in Brisbane.
Mr Wallace, a science graduate and former park ranger, says the last 40 years have seen a tremendous growth in the Gympie region, which now accounts for around 12% of the domestic crop, is home to a large processing plant and employs hundreds of people within the community.
"The macadamia nut was discovered in Bauple in 1858, and named the Bauple nut, and Mt Bauple has been widely acknowledged as the ancestral home of the nut."
It is from the genus found in this area that today's trees are bred.
"As growers, we're extremely proud of what we've achieved in such a short period," Mr Wallace said.
"We've developed a strong reputation for producing the world's finest macadamias and our industry is one of the major horticultural economic contributors to Gympie.
"We're really excited about what lies ahead for us."
Australian Macadamias CEO Jolyon Burnett said the phenomenal global success of the industry was thanks to talented growers like the Wallaces.
"We're lucky to have growers who are passionate about innovation, quality and sustainability and constantly invest in research and development to produce the best quality, best tasting macadamias in the world," he said.
Mr Burnett said indulging in freshly harvested home-grown macadamias was the perfect way for Australians to be part of the anniversary celebrations in May.
"Macadamias' reputation and appeal has been built on their creamy, buttery taste and versatility as a stand-alone snack or as a way of adding taste and texture to dishes, both savoury and sweet," Mr Burnett said.
"Macadamias are loaded with good fats and offer many health and beauty benefits, so devour a handful and raise a 'roast' to a global success story and the hardworking growers that continue to produce the world's finest nut."
Macadamias first evolved on the north-east coast of the country more than 60,000 years ago, growing naturally in the Australian rainforest.