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Maria River Plantation
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Maria River Plantation
Maria River Plantation Maria River Plantation
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Background Top Of Page
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The first plantation in the Maria River Plantation group was established in 1994. Since then other plantations have been established and we now have 5 plantations that we manage between Port Macquarie and Lismore. The plantations have an agricultural base of livestock, with our key focus being the production, research and development of various essential oils for wholesale distribution and having application in the personal health and animal care industries. We also look to be a leader in our industry and set new benchmarks in plantation management, agricultural processes and quality control through responsible innovation.

Entry to the Maria River Plantation
Entry to the Maria River Plantation

With about 600 ha of tea tree under plantation, we believe that our plantations make us currently the single largest producing plantation in the world. Our wholesale focus and tight management structure ensures that we are a cost effective and convenient entity to deal with. The business owners control all aspects of the plantation including planting, plantation management, production, sales and customer service. As such, our customers enjoy direct access to the decision makers in the business.

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Plantations Top Of Page
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Our largest plantation is the Maria River Plantation and it is from here that our group derives its name. This plantation is situated approximately 14 km north of Port Macquarie with access being by the tar sealed Settlement Point Road, vehicular ferry over the Hastings River and Shoreline Drive and then by the gravel surfaced Maria River Road.

The property is 567 hectares in size and has over 5 km of river frontage. There are two large and modern homes located on the property which are occupied by the plantation managers.

The soil is generally of high quality and there is an abundant supply of water available from streams that run through the property, enhanced by water channels. Prior to its conversion into an essential oil plantation, the property was used for cattle grazing.

The plantation is a haven for native species and supports visiting koalas, kangaroos, kookaburras, a huge variety of aquarian & bird life and numerous small marsupials. We pride ourselves on our policy of ecologically sustainable agriculture.

There is a total of 257 hectares of tea trees planted here with an additional 30 hectares to be planted in 2011.

Limeburners Plantation is located approximately 8 km North of the Maria River Plantation on the Maria River Road. The property is 160 hectares in size and is bounded on the West by three water courses and on the East by the Limeburners National Park.

The property is mostly level and open with views and access to the Maria River. The exception to this is “Dicks Hill” which is located on the property. “Dicks Hill” is a local landmark and one of the few elevated sites in the lower Maria River Catchment. The elevation gives uninterrupted views of the plantation and surrounding area.

Whilst the plantation does have an irrigation licence it has never been used as the Tea Trees have natural access to ground water throughout most of the year.

With watercourses, a national park and natural elevation the property supports an abundance of local flora and fauna. There is a total of 125 hectares of tea tree planted here.

Heritage Farms Plantation is situated just 5 km north of Port Macquarie and just 500 m from the Settlement Point ferry on Shoreline Drive. This property is approximately 312 hectares in size with a large portion of the land under reserve. This property was also once a dairy farm and poplar tree plantation until 1984. The property is just 1 km away from the unspoilt “8 Mile Beach” and has charming views across the Limeburners Creek. There is a total of 110 hectares of tea tree planted here.

Woodburn Plantation is located on the Far North Coast of New South Wales. The property is 60 hectares in size and approximately 10km west of the township of Woodburn. The property is located on the Bungawalbyn Creek and helps form part of the Bungawalbyn Catchments levee system.

The property is approximately 500 metres wide and 1000 metres long. It has been set up as a dedicated flood irrigation plantation with symmetrical blocks, laser levelled and drained. This plantation has been established with high yielding trees developed by the ATTIA and RIRDC Tea Tree Breeding Program.

Early production results have been very encouraging. The plantation is expected to become one of the highest yielding ever seen in Australia. It currently has 42 hectares planted with the remaining 11 hectares to be planted in spring 2011.

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  • Lemon Scented Tea Tree shrub ready for harvest

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  • Limburners Plantation.

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  • Planting at the Woodburn Plantation.

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  • Irrigation at the Woodburn Plantation.



Management Top Of Page
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The Maria River Plantation's daily management, maintenance, harvest and distillation is performed by John Seccombe (Australian Essential Services Pty Ltd). John has been involved in the Tea Tree industry since 1995. Over this period he has accumulated an extensive machinery & manpower base and gained valuable practical & research experience in the maintenance, processing and maximization of essential oil plantation yields and profitability using industry best practice.

John is the 5th generation in his family to farm in Australia with his youth and roots in grazing and cropping on the Far North Coast of New South Wales. John was educated in Lismore then attended the University of Newcastle where he was awarded a Diploma of Education. After further studies at the Southern Cross University in Lismore John was awarded a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Accounting.

Prior to moving back into farming in 1995 John travelled the world extensively for three years working in England and throughout Europe.

John is a partner in the Maria River Plantation.

The marketing, sales and corporate functions of the Group is managed by Jerome Chopard (JG Chopard Pty Ltd). Jerome is a financial adviser and partner in a financial advisory firm located in Sydney. Jerome’s initial involvement in tea tree dates back to 1994 when he assisted with the funding of the Heritage Farms plantation. In 2000, Jerome arranged the re-structure of the various tea tree plantations ownerships in the Port Macquarie location to form the Maria River Plantation.

Jerome was educated in Singapore where he completed his Bachelor of Arts. He is a Senior Associate of the Financial Planning Association of Australia and a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia. Jerome has extensive experience as an adviser to family business and individuals having worked in Singapore, Indonesia, China, India, USA and UK.

Jerome is a partner in the Maria River Plantation.

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  • View of plantation equipment



Production Top Of Page
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The combined Tea Tree oil production of the plantations will range between 70,000 kgs to 100,000 kgs per annum depending on the season.

In addition, the company produces over 1,000 kgs of Lemon Scented Tea Tree oil.

Probably the most important point in our production is our ability to guarantee the source of our produce right down to the block on each individual farm. Source of origin is becoming a critical point in purchasing by multinational companies whose Corporate Governance requires them to ensure purchases from identifiable locations which support sustainability, humanitarian and ecological advancement. Raw materials produced to high quality standards and environmental benchmarks are MUST points in the essential oil industry.

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Code of Practice Top Of Page
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The Maria River Plantation group is fully accredited under the tea tree industries code of practice. This includes accredited Field Recording Systems, Pesticide Control, Crop Harvesting, Distillation, Oil Handling, Filtration & Drum Filling and Shipment & Export.

All tea tree oil produced by the Maria River Plantation group is done so under this accreditation and will be supplied in accordance with it.

The Code of Practice has been developed to bring the industry to a common standard of quality management. This has come about from the increasing pressure placed on producers of tea tree oil by declining profitability and an increasingly difficult regulatory situation. The adoption of the code will see producers better equipped to face these challenges.

The quality management outlined in the Code of Practice starts on the farm and continues throughout the processing and the supply chain. This code was developed using a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) type approach to identify quality hazards and also compliments ISO 9001:2000 quality management systems." (Extract from the Code of Practice "Foreword") A copy of the industry code of conduct can be obtained via the ATTIA website (See links)

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Machinery Development & Workshop Top Of Page
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The tea tree industry presents many challenges in mechanization as it is both relatively new and small when compared to other commercial crops. As our industry would best be described as a hybrid of row cropping and horticulture, one of our biggest challenges is having access to appropriate machinery for harvesting, distillation and plantation maintenance. Most of the equipment available to our industry tends to be used for row cropping in such crops as corn, soya bean and sugar cane etc. All these crops are of course different in many ways but most noticeably, none of them are made up of a large component of wooded parts as tea tree is.

Given this, our industry is often faced with two issues, high wear and breakages and extensive modifications to "off the shelf" machinery.

For this reason the Maria River Plantation group has established an extensive workshop where we repair and maintain most of our own equipment. Over the past four years we have also been heavily involved in the development of "off the shelf" machinery including a purpose built harvester, plantation maintenance implements and the development of innovative distillation bins and materials handling operations.

Having our own machinery ensures that we determine the best time for our plantation management, harvest and distillation. This provides our customers with a high level of comfort in knowing that they can rely on us to supply to any purchase order we accept.

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