For more on his story featured on SBS, please read on.
For thousands of years our iconic Boab trees have provided Indigenous people with food, shelter and medicine. The tree is symbolic of Australia’s north-west and its fruit is now on the menu at some of Australia’s top restaurants.
Like many Indigenous kids in Australia’s top-end, Robert Dann would often feast on boab nuts.
“When we were small and hungry, we’d walk around and if it was in season get the boab,” Broome local Robert Dann recalls.
“We’d climb the tree, break it open and eat it straight up. Sometimes we’ll take the fruit back home and put it into a pot and make ice tea or porridge,” he added.
Decades later, a business idea evolved out of his tour company, Kimberley Cultural Adventures.
“I would make my version of boab iced tea and a customer tasted it and said you should take it to next level.”
Robert also runs the bush-food business Bindam Mie, grinding boab nuts to create a powder that can be added to cakes or muesli, iced teas, even boab ginger beer. It has a slightly tangy, lemon flavour.
In the boab nut season from March to October, Robert processes and packages the flesh at a workshop in Broome, employing young Indigenous workers.
“With the knowledge I am teaching younger ones, it empowers them to take it further as well,” Robert added.
“It’s creating economic development for the whole of the Kimberlies. It’s caring for country.”
The market for Boab nut products is growing steadily, with scientists reporting on its health benefits. Robert says it’s high in vitamins, iron, potassium and calcium.
Robert still runs a tourism business in the Kimberley, teaching people about Indigenous history and local cultural practises. By alternating between businesses, and moving down to Perth during the wet season, Robert’s work continues year-round.
He also plays music and sells his own DVDs to tourists on Saturdays at the local markets.
Bindam Mie is growing steadily and Robert has big plans for the future.
“It’s a young business so it’s got a lot of potential, like Kakadu plum, Gubinge which is going out of this world at the moment, hopefully boab is in the same category”.
With a one kilogram bag of ground boab nut powder retailing for $400, Robert hopes his business will soon turn a profit from harvesting nature’s bounty.
Robert is definitely a man of many talents and we look forward to supporting his businesses to continue to grow.
To read the full story, The Indigenous entrepreneur hoping to take Australia’s iconic boab tree fruit to the world, click here.
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