Multi-generational, family-run business GR Davis Pty Ltd has been producing high quality Australian plant-based oils for over 50 years. Established in 1964 by Geoff Davis, the company is now Australia’s largest producer of certified organic Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oil.
After finding himself without work, Geoff Davis started GR Davis Pty Ltd out of the garage of his Sydney home, before purchasing a property at West Wyalong, NSW – an area renowned for its Blue Mallee Eucalyptus – a few years later. Considered innovative for his time, Geoff began modernising the production process and developed the world’s first completely mechanised operation to harvest and distil Eucalyptus oil.
Geoff’s son, Richard Davis, currently runs the family business with help from dedicated team members, including Factory Manager Scott Bool, who has been with the company for over 15 years. Niki met with Scott at the company’s purpose-built Eucalyptus and Tea Tree processing facility in Queanbeyan, just outside of Canberra. Built in 2007, the facility now houses the company’s head office, laboratory, processing and distribution.
GR Davis Pty Ltd prides itself in producing only the highest quality oils, successfully achieved through careful management of the production process from start to finish.
This begins with the sustainable, organic management of its plantation. Located in West Wyalong, the plantation covers over 7,000 hectares, with almost 3,000 hectares certified organic for over 25 years. Although the majority of the oil is found in the leaves, GR Davis Pty Ltd endeavours to use the whole tree – trunk, branches, leaves and all – to ensure nothing is wasted.
Once the trees reach a couple of metres in height, they are cut to the stump at ground level. The whole tree is then broken down to begin the distillation process, where it is added to the boiler and heated to 100 degrees Celsius to draw out the oil. The extracted oil is then refined through a multi-step distilling process to produce the clear, delightful smelling Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oil that we all know and love.
By-products from the distillation and extraction process are re-used to minimise waste, including the creation of Eucalyptus and Tea Tree mulch which acts as a natural weed deterrent. An annual harvest yields approximately 10 tonnes of organic Eucalyptus and 2-3 tonnes of Tea Tree, and the company has planted over 4 million trees in the last 10 years.
GR Davis Pty Ltd’s organic certification journey began in the early 1990s. After being approached by several customers wanting to make the switch to organic oil, the company contacted BFA (the foundations of Australian Organic and ACO Certification Ltd) to learn more about the requirements for organic certification.
Fortunately, the protocols for organic production were already being employed by GR Davis at its property in West Wyalong, after the plantation was left to its own devices and began to thrive without the use of herbicides.
Richard Davis recalls, “We gained organic status right from the first inspection as, not only had we not used any chemicals for over 5 years, we had also incorporated a nutrient cycle whereby the health of the soil and the plantations was actually improving each season.”
Although minimally affected by the 2019 bushfires, the plantation has suffered from long-term drought. Unable to irrigate the property, with water cartage to the property only available for seedlings, the property is reliant on regular rainfall. However, due to high rainfall and a long hot summer, GR Davis Pty Ltd experienced a great growing year in 2020.
This has provided ample opportunity for the company to expand its export markets, with increased interest from the USA, Canada and Japan. GR Davis Pty Ltd agrees that domestic regulation will help to streamline the export process, as it currently requires multiple certifications for both the domestic market and each country they export to. GR Davis Pty Ltd is also looking to add COSMOS certification to its list to help companies wanting to use their products in organic cosmetics and skincare.
Learn more about GR Davis Pty Ltd on their website: grdavis.com.au