Fly at the right time and you’ll enjoy a lemon myrtle coconut slice for morning tea. Here’s the story behind the Indigenous entrepreneur who produced it.
One of Herb Smith’s fondest childhood memories is the scent of lemon myrtle in his grandmother’s biscuits. As a young boy growing up in Wellington, 360 kilometres north-west of Sydney, Smith often spent school holidays at his grandparents’ place. “I used to watch my grandmother make lemon myrtle biscuits in the kitchen,” he recalls.
Half a century on, Smith wants to share a slice of his childhood with Qantas passengers. His Wellington-based boutique company, Dreamtime Tuka, has collaborated with a bakery in nearby Dubbo to come up with the lemon myrtle coconut slice now being served as a morning snack on Qantas domestic flights.
Before he entered the food industry, Smith spent more than 30 years as a police officer. When he retired, he “didn’t want to just sit down and do nothing” so he launched his company in 2013, specialising in Aboriginal-inspired-and-influenced foods such as macadamia nuts with cinnamon myrtle and wild spearmint-flavoured spring water.
Smith doesn’t produce the goods himself; he sources from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal manufacturers in NSW and beyond then supplies them to the wider Australian community. “In a way, I’m the bridge between the Aboriginal food-makers and consumers,” says Smith.
While Dreamtime Tuka has worked with a number of corporate clients, supplying lemon myrtle coconut slices to Qantas is its biggest project to date. “It’s an enormous opportunity for my small company and will change the way it operates.”
And Smith doesn’t want to stop there. If he has his way, Qantas passengers will soon be tucking into muffins with wattle seeds – just like the ones his grandmother used to make.