Australia is the birthplace of world’s revered sandalwood species and spread across the world we know today when the ancient supercontinent Gondwana separated million years ago.
The ancestors of Western Australian sandalwood came of age between six and nine million years ago and for more than 1000 years its descendants, which spread across the globe, have been renowned for its spiritual, therapeutic and healing properties.
Western Australian sandalwood began its journey in the outback (isolated desert) millions of years ago. The slow-growing desert tree continues to prosper and regenerate in a harsh environment and spends more than 100 years creating its superior timber.
Genuine Wild Western Australian sandalwood uses this time to refine its unique aroma.
It all started with Sandalwood
It is said that the early settlers of Western Australia founded the economy off the enchanting smell of Western Australian Sandalwood, during the mid-1840's Sandalwood granted Western Australia with its first real gateway into the East (Asia), giving Western Australia a name on the map and in turn paved the way for roads, infrastructure and much more.
Nearly 175 years on and today more than ever before people’s daily lives are touched by this unique fragrance, from the regional communities that harvest the Sandalwood in outback Western Australia, high end perfume houses in Europe to incense manufactures and devout Buddhists throughout Asia. Just like the long history and vast reputation of the sacred commodities the story SS Champion around the world too grows stronger with every life it touches and eternal friendships it forms.
History of Western Australian Sandalwood
The commercial viability of Sandalwood in WA was only first aroused during the year 1843. It was only confirmed 2 whole years later in year 1845, when the first shipment of wild sandalwood left Western Australia’s shores onboard the schooner "Champion" to Bombay India to test the market.
The colonial schooner was carrying 4.5 tonnes of precious sandalwood. Later that year the "Champion" returned to Fremantle. It was greeted with enormous excitement at the news that the wood would fetch 10 pounds per ton in Bombay (and would fetch 20-30 pounds per ton if taken direct to Canton).
This shipment laid the foundation to a prosperous and respectful 170 year trading relationship between China and Western Australia that continues to flourish today.
For more of the history on WA Sandalwood click here.
Sandalwood has been used for thousands of years and the East's cultural appreciation of authenticity and quality means that still to this day they are still easily the globes largest admires of Western Australian sandalwood.
Traditionally, China has had strong cultural links to sandalwood and today, it is still used in Chinese medicine, payer articles, carvings, status ornaments and high-class incense.
India still use Sandalwood for incense, religious ceremonies, prayer sticks, perfume, cosmetics, medicinal treatments, aromatherapy, insect repellence, furniture and carvings, and most of all chewing tobacco.
In the past 10-15 years we have seen a large swing from many perfume houses in Europe and Americas switch from using Indian Sandalwood (santalum.album) to using Western Australian (santalum.spicatum).
This has largely been achieved through educational programs based on the sustainability benefits of WA sandalwood when compared to Indian Sandalwood and the benefits given to some of the aboriginal and regional communities of Western Australia.
Why choose Western Australian Sandalwood?
Choosing Western Australian sandalwood is a choice for health.
It’s a premium 100% all natural product, grown wildly in a pollution and chemical free environment in the isolated deserts of Western Australia. Importantly, it is collected under strict government control to ensure admirers of quality are rewarded with excellence.
Western Australian Sandalwood (santalum.spicatum) is the worlds last standing commercially viable Wild sandalwood resource. It has been around long enough to enable the global industry time to transition towards a sustainable plantation based industry that will reduce the reliance on all wild harvests and enable regional aboriginal communities access to Sandalwood for traditional purposes, regional upliftment and most importantly preservation.
Regeneration driven by FPC
The Forest Products commissions currently have two main driving forces to ensure sufficient sandalwood is being regenerated each year "Operation Woylie" and "Sandalwood Dreaming".
These practices are part of an ongoing Integrarted Management System and go through rigorous, independent environmental review processes.
In the past 2 decades The Forest Products Commission and Murdoch University researchers investigated the role of woylies in the regeneration of sandalwood. In 2005, they confirmed that the animals were collecting and hoarding seeds in shallow diggings, a behaviour known as scatter-hoarding.
Based on this knowledge, the FPC designed a mechanical process to mimic the role of the woylie in seed dispersal. This process evolved into an annual regeneration program named Operation Woylie. Each year, we now disburse more than five million seeds across approximately 20,000 ha of the Rangelands. FPC also works with land managers to identify potential areas on pastoral leases suitable for seeding and, once identified and planted, the FPC supports land managers to protect regenerated areas.
Sandalwood Dreaming is an FPC initiative to expand the sandalwood regeneration program. It engages Aboriginal people to collect and plant seed as part of FPC’s sustainable harvesting operations.
The project works with Aboriginal communities within the natural distribution area of Western Australian sandalwood. Aboriginal knowledge of Country is critical to the re-establishment of Western Australian sandalwood.
THE AUSTRALIAN SANDALWOOD TRADE - SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT
by Pamela Statham, Department of Economic History, R.S.S.S., Australian National University and The University of Western Australia Discussion Paper 87.09 September 1987
MARITIME HERITAGE ASSOCIATION JOURNAL Volume 6, No.4. December, 1995
page 9, H M. Colonial Schooner CHAMPION
by Roy Dedman