Macadamias originated 60 thousand years ago in the rainforest on the eastern seaboard of Australia in far north New South Wales and south east Queensland.
Before European settlement, Aboriginal people congregated on the eastern slopes of Australia’s Great Dividing Range to feed on the seed of two evergreen trees, one of which they called ‘Kindal Kindal’ which was the macadamia. Aboriginal peoples had other names for Macadamia including Boombera & Jindilli. Macadamias were not staple fare; they were considered a delicacy and were treasured and collected wherever they were found. They were also traded between tribes and used as special ceremonial gifts at inter-tribal corroborees.
In the 1850’s these trees caught the attention of two European botanists, Walter Hill and German botanist Ferdinand Von Meuller, who were struck by the majestic beauty of the macadamia tree and the nuts it produced. From then on, they were known as Macadamia integrifolia (smooth shelled) and Macadamia tetraphylla (rough shelled) which also produces a nut that is edible, although not as good for roasting as Macadamia integrifolia. The genus Macadamia was named after a scientist and politician of that time, Dr John MacAdam, who was prominent in encouraging the cultivation of the species.
While the first plantation was established in the 1880s, it wasn’t until the development of successful grafting techniques and the introduction of mechanical processing that commercial production of the tough nut became feasible. Macadamia enthusiast Norm Gerber pioneered the grafting techniques that enabled the development of our commercial industry, and he is often referred to as the founding father of the Australian macadamia industry.
Macadamias are the only native Australian plant that has been developed and traded internationally as a commercial food product. The combination of its unique flavour, nutritional benefits, texture and heritage is a source of great pride for those involved in the industry.