“People don’t even realise Australia has a native pepper,” says Rebecca Sullivan, who runs Warndu with husband Damien Coulthard, an Indigenous Australian man from Adnyamathanha country. Warndu started out as a range of herbal teas made from wild and cultivated Australian native ingredients, expanding a year ago to include spices after they released a cookbook – Warndu Mai – that’s peppered with recipes featuring those goods. “We always tell people to go spice first. It’s the easiest way to start learning to cook with native ingredients,” says Sullivan.
Based in South Australia, their roasted, whole wattleseed and freeze-dried quandong come from the Flinders Ranges, while the powdered Davidson Plum and ground strawberry gum are sourced from New South Wales. Sullivan says that as an Indigenous business, they prioritise working with other Indigenous businesses, wild harvesters or women’s groups first before ordering from growers. However, demand for native Australian food products is now consistently outweighing supply, and seasonal variations mean sourcing is constantly in flux.
“We need more growers in the industry, but we need more respectful growers who are going to ensure that the IP of the plants remains with Indigenous Australians,” says Sullivan. “The industry has a bit of a dark past, as does spice trade generally. We’ve spent years building relationships with people before we buy from them and before they sell to us.” warndu.com; @warndu ●
Gourmet Traveller June 2020