Meet the people behind Australia’s macadamia harvest

Australia’s macadamia industry is home to around 800 growers, primarily located in rich and fertile growing regions extending along the country’s east coast. Right now, it’s their busiest time of year with harvest in full swing.

The industry’s growers are hard-working, passionate and highly skilled at growing the world’s best macadamias. From seasoned veterans to aspiring newcomers, these growers hail from diverse backgrounds, each contributing their unique journey to the fabric of the industry.

Australian macadamia grower Glen Uebergang

Behind every delicious Australian macadamia nut lies a story of perseverance, resilience, innovative thinking, and unwavering dedication to quality. Today, we’re putting some of our industry’s remarkable growers in the spotlight, offering a glimpse into the heart and soul of Australia’s macadamia landscape.

Anthony Sinnott: Bundaberg

Anthony Sinnott bought his macadamia orchard near Bundaberg back in 2006. Previously an old sugar cane farm, the 16.6 hectare orchard is now home to well over 5,300 macadamia nut trees.

Anthony moved into full time macadamia farming after a career as a supervisor in the mining industry, and it’s been a positive transition that has seen him win awards for both the quality and productivity of his macadamia operation.

“I love being my own boss, and working outdoors,” says Anthony. “I like the hands-on work in the shed and around the trees, and then in the heat of the day enjoying the air conditioning in the tractor”. 

Anthony Sinnott in his macadamia orchard

Anthony pays close attention to soil health and nutrition and believes this is one of the keys to the quality and yield his macadamia trees produce. He uses compost made from recycled green waste around his trees.

During harvest, Anthony aims to complete harvesting rounds every 14 to 18 days to help maximise quality. He uses a double-row pinwheel machine to collect the nuts from the ground, and also brings in a tree shaker at the end of the harvest season each year to ensure any nuts still left in the trees are collected.

Anthony also highlights precision irrigation technology as a critical component of his orchard management regime. “My irrigation system allows me to monitor soil moisture with the use of moisture probes, and I have an automated irrigation schedule that operates my water pumps and changes valves between blocks,” he said.

Australia’s macadamia industry has long been characterised by a strong spirit of collaboration, and Anthony emphasises the importance of this. “I source as much information from as many people with experience as possible. I work closely with my processor and listen to advice from experienced consultants and other growers,” he says.

And the all-important question, what is Anthony’s favourite way to enjoy macadamia nuts? “I love salted and chilli macadamias and also the salted macadamia nuts in shell with the key in the packet to crack the shell open,” he shares.

Glen and Ally Uebergang: Clarence Valley

In their five years growing macadamias near Yamba in NSW, Glen and Ally Uebergang have faced no shortage of challenges. But they have overcome them using technical know-how, innovation, and a positive outlook.

Glen and Ally had experience in broadacre mixed farming before they bought a sugar cane farm on the lower Clarence River in 2019. They decided to convert the farm to a macadamia orchard and planted around 7,000 trees over the next three years. 

The Uebergang family

However the orchard’s coastal location soon presented some unique challenges.

“We needed to do something to support the trees because due to our proximity to the coast, we get a lot of wind, and the soil gets very sodden when it gets saturated,” said Glen.

They developed a support wire system for the trees, connected to the irrigation system. “As the trees grow, the support wire gets raised, lifting the irrigation line with it,” Glen explains. This innovation proved critical during the devastating Northern NSW floods that hit in February 2022, just as the Uebergangs had finished planting.

The entire farm flooded for five days, and the water was 30 centimetres higher than any previously recorded flood peak, according to their neighbours who have lived in the area their whole lives. 

Floodwaters in the Uebergangs’ macadamia orchard

Fortunately, most of their newly-planted trees had some leaves above the water, and the support wire ensured the trees didn’t fall over during the flood. This helped them to respond more quickly when the ground finally dried out. 

A second flood in April 2022, followed by a mini cyclone, once again tested the resilience of Ally and Glen and their on-farm innovations. 

“The support wires stopped trees being blown over. Also, because the irrigation line was raised it wasn’t damaged by the flood and didn’t need maintenance,” they said.  Despite a difficult couple of years, Glen and Ally remain extremely positive, saying that they didn’t go into the industry expecting there wouldn’t be challenges. 

“We see a long-term future in macadamias. We love the lifestyle and the opportunity to grow macadamias as a family and we are really enjoying our journey so far.”

Ann and Andrew Leslie: Northern Rivers

Ann and Andrew Leslie in their macadamia orchard

The Leslie family moved to the New South Wales macadamia-growing region in 2008 after many years living and working further north in Brisbane. Ann, a former teacher and Andrew, a former accountant, bought a working macadamia farm. For Andrew this was a return to his roots as he grew up on his parents macadamia farm.

“Andrew’s parents’ farm was one of the early macadamia farms in this area”, says Ann. “He has memories of planting and harvesting macadamias by hand with his siblings.”

After working in different industries, the pair were able to bring a new perspective and practices to the farm. In particular, Ann brought a passion for quality, beneficial skincare. She is evangelical about the benefits of macadamia oil in skin care. “People love it as a food. Not many people know it as skincare, but when they try it, they love it. It mimics the natural oils of the skin, is super nourishing and repairing and is suitable for most skin types.”

This passion has led Ann to craft a range of six face and body products, all containing premium quality Australian macadamia oil, as well as other proven beneficial ingredients like Kakadu Plum and Manuka Honey. In the food world, the term ‘Paddock to Plate’ is commonly used. Ann has coined the phrase ‘Farm to Face’ to communicate the idea that her products are produced using all-natural key ingredients from Australian farms. 

Avilla Farm Macadamia Face Oil

It’s not just skin care recipes that Ann crafts. She also dreams up macadamia inspired meals in the kitchen. “Crumbed salmon with a macadamia sourdough crust is probably my favourite way to enjoy them,” she says

And as for her favourite time of year, Ann loves Spring. “I actually love it when the macadamia trees are in flower – it’s quite stunning. And then of course when the trees are full of nuts. It’s always a good feeling to see the year’s crop there.”

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