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6 June 2005
Bush Plum
Visit Western Australia and find out about an interesting and healthy type of fruit called the bush plum.

CLAIRE MOODIE: At Willy Creek on the outskirts of Broome, this local family's on a familiar pilgrimage. They're heading for the gubinge trees, which in Aboriginal culture are considered a gift of the Dreamtime.

NEIL McKENZIE (Yawuru Man): It's important to our people because it's part of our culture. It's our way of life. It's been handed down generation to generation.

CLAIRE MOODIE: The McKenzie clan is one of many families who still swear by the wet season plums as a vital source of nutrition.

These humble nuggets of fruit are said to be the world's richest natural source of vitamin C.

Now, after centuries of growing virtually unnoticed to the outside world, the secret is out.

At this factory in Sydney, gubinge from the Kimberley is being processed into a powder form.

QUENTIN BLADES (Coradji Company): When we first found out about it, we just couldn't believe that a fruit could have that much vitamin C in it because it's just not natural in the native world - in the plant world.

CLAIRE MOODIE: Tests have confirmed what indigenous Australians have suspected for centuries:

QUENTIN BLADES: The typical vitamin C that we find in our raw plums is about 1.5 per cent by weight. To put that in some perspective, that's roughly about 500 to 1000 times higher than you would get in a normal orange.

CLAIRE MOODIE: Quentin Blades used to work for one of Australia's biggest health care companies. He's now a consultant with an ambition to develop the potential of gubinge and other native plants.

QUENTIN BLADES: We're also doing it to try to put something back into the local community of Broome, and particularly the indigenous community.

CLAIRE MOODIE: Under the biggest commercial harvest of the fruit so far, Aboriginal pickers, normally dependent on welfare, were paid $10 a kilo, but the operation angered other families who gather the fruit for their own household use.

Kim Courtney is among many who believe there needs to be more structure in the industry if it is to survive.

KIM COURTNEY: There's a need for research, and for people to work together and form a memorandum of understanding on how the industry should develop.

I think the macadamia nut was a great example: the macadamia industry developed in Hawaii, even although it's an Australian native plant. I think the way to be cautious so that it doesn't go elsewhere is to come together - to walk together, and to work together - and say, "Let's develop the gubinge industry. Let the local people develop it for the local people."

NEIL McKENZIE: We're not against the picking itself - I would encourage Aboriginal people to do this to earn extra money, and it would be a benefit to do it - but they need to do it in a careful and controlled manner.

story notes

 gubinge trees
The bush plums are called gubinge by the local people. They are also known as the Kimberley plum or Kakadu plum. The official name is Terminalia ferninandiana.

 swear by
To swear by something is to have a lot of confidence in it and believe that it is good for you.
Example: He swears by his teaching methods.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 humble nuggets
A nugget is a small, roughly shaped lump. And here, humble means ordinary or not special. The bush plum is a small, ordinary-looking fruit.

 world's richest
Richest is the superlative form of rich. It means to contain the greatest amount of a certain substance. Notice that we use superlative adjectives such as richest with the or a possessive like world's.
more information: superlative adjectives

 vitamin C
Notice that the reporter has a strong Scottish accent. She says ‘vitamin’ with a short vowel sound Australians usually pronounce the word with a long vowel sound.

hundreds of years

Virtually means almost.

 secret is out
A secret is something few people know. If the secret is out, then everybody knows about it. It isn’t a secret anymore.

The Kimberley is a region in the north of Western Australia.

 put that in some perspective
So to put something into perspective means to compare something to other things, so it can be fairly judged and understood.

 the biggest
Notice that we use superlative adjectives such as biggest with the.
more information: superlative adjectives

 so far
up to now
Example: She's the best student I've taught so far.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

 memorandum of understanding
A memorandum of understanding is an agreement about the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved.