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Issue 17, Autumn 2001

Ringwood Lords

The Bellingen Valley is unique in many ways. Whenever you mention 'Bellingen' to anyone, they always comment on its beauty. Well, there's nothing new about its beauty - Bellinger has always been beautiful - but, there is definitely something very old here.

There is an old growth forest in a valley that few human eyes have seen. Protected by its seclusion, this forest of Ringwood giants - some 40 metres tall with a 5 metre girth - is an ancient reminder of a former glory. These lush rainforest trees exist nowhere else in the world, and although there are several other remnant populations in the valley, there is none so grand, so awe-inspiring, as the Old Growth Forest, now under NPWS jurisdiction. 

These "Ringwood Lords", once Kings of the Valley, Protectors of the Waterways, have a familiar but unusual quality.

Lucky enough to find yourself amongst a stand of these magnificent trees, you will sense the unmistakable scent of aniseed. Nature works in mysterious ways and I, for one, never cease to marvel at Her wizardry. How is it possible, for instance, that unrelated plants from different parts of the world can look so different yet possess the same aromatic qualities?

Common to all aniseed-scented plants, such as Fennel and Aniseed from Europe, and Star Anise from China, is the organic compound, anethole. Australia's very

own Ringwood (Backhousia anisata, commonly known as Aniseed Myrtle) is particularly high in this compound. Anethole has a sweet refreshing scent and is a stimulant with antiseptic, antiviral, and bactericidal properties.

Interestingly, a recent study cited in the September 2000 edition of the 'Natural Health Review' magazine, showed that Backhousia anisata essential oil inhibits the growth of several species of bacteria.

M. Blewitt and G. McIntyre

The aromatic potential of this rare Australian native was first investigated in the 1940s (by the NSW Forestry). Sixty years later, renewed interest is flourishing.
There is an increasing awareness in the agricultural community that growing native species makes logistical sense; they are  perfectly adapted to the local conditions, such as soil type and annual rainfall, and do not need huge inputs of fertilizers, etc. Encouraged by the potential of our local Ringwood, and in search of a sustainable 'tread softly' approach to the environment, two of the valley's farming families have recently developed a product range that captures the true spirit of Bellingen.

Bellinger Valley Bushfoods and Auntie Myrtle's Spice Factory have been growing Ringwood trees in hand-tended plantations for two to three years now.

This poem by S. Cadman is an ode to this magical place.

Forest of Aniseed
Forest of Aniseed - stately and grand
Tucked away safely, away from demand
Fills the air with parochial scent
And carpet the floor with leaves that are spent.
Beautiful forest of medieval feel
Whispers of passing time and things that are real
Visions of otherworlds or a universe complete
In the palm understorey and ferns at your feet.
A precious place is this forest so rare
Such a privilege to know that its there
In an uncertain world of chaos and dilemma
This place creates the ultimate centre.


Canberra Organic Growers Society Inc.

COGS is a non-profit organisation providing a forum for organic growers in the Canberra region. COGS encourages the community to adopt organic growing methods. Members have access to community gardens, meetings; and receive the COGS Quarterly publication.

For further information, contact:

Canberra Organic Growers Society, PO Box 347,

Planting Rainforest Fruits?

A professional nursery growing exclusively east coast bushfood plants

Larry Geno announces increasing availability of plantation tested, rainforest bushfood trees for commercial growers. The nursery is linked to a consulting service for farm design, planning, species selection, marketing surveys and planting assistance, based on plantation experience.

Please ask for our species list. No hype, promises or promotion, just sound trees and experienced advice at low cost.

We buy seed!
Ph/Fax for species list: 0754 788 815

Ringwood Lords cont'd

These plantations are sustainably harvested and the leaf distilled to yield a high quality pure essential oil.

This oil is sold locally as" Silks" 100% Pure Aniseed Myrtle Essential Oil. "Silks" also have an Aniseed Myrtle Massage Oil and Bath Foam and are adding the food product, Aniseed Myrtle Syrup, to their range. It is hoped that initiatives like these will collectively and surely change the face of agriculture in Australia to the mutual benefit of man and environment alike.

For product enquiries contact: Auntie Myrtle's Spice Factory, PO Box 483, Bellingen,

NSW 2454,

Ph: 026655 2073 maree@midcoast.com.au Bellinger Valley Bushfoods, Ph 026655 9544 or

026653 7146,

Full Moon Natural Health Products, PO Box 91, Bellingen, Ph/Fax 02665 52696,


Wattle Seed Foie Sale

(Acacia, victoriea)

Raw seed: $20 kg.
Roasted and ground to your specification: $40 kg

Prices negotiable on the roasted and ground seed

depending on quantity required.
Contact Lyle Dudley on

08 8666 2013 or Caroline Dudley on 08 8643 6055
PO Box 104 Wilmington SA 5485

email: oldsbend@telstra.easymail.com.au