Our Brand Origins
The origins of the term Tea Tree dates back to the 1770’s. Captain James Cook came upon groves of trees, thick with sticky aromatic leaves which were used by the indigenous tribes and when boiled rendered a spicy tea, hence the name Tea Tree.
In 1925, Arthur Penfold, a chemist, published research from an independent study showing that the antiseptic activity of the distilled oil of Melaleuca alternifolia was up to 13 times greater than that of carbolic acid, then a well-known germicide. General practitioners used the oil in treating throat infections, uncleaned wounds and fungal infections.
In the outbreak of the second war in 1939, the Australian government commandeered all stocks of Tea Tree Oil for the military and supplied all Pacific troops with Tea Tree Oil in their First Aid Kits. Tea Tree cutters were exempted from military service.
After the war, synthetic penicillin gave rise to the belief of the wonder of modern drugs. Natural medicines and remedies were pushed to the back of the medicine cupboard and Tea Tree Oil became hard to come by. Eventually Tea Tree and its corresponding information on became nothing more than a museum record and many plantations were ploughed back into the ground.
Its reintroduction on to the world 30 years later is an extraordinary tale of one family in the face of adversity.
Tea Tree leaves have been used for thousands of years by the indigenous people of New South Wales for their healing properties. In the 1930s and 1940s, the oil was widely acclaimed as a near perfect antiseptic and in Australia, it was used in ammunition factories. In fact, Tea Tree Oil was considered so vital that Tea Tree Oil producers were exempt from military service. However, with the development of synthetic solutions in the 1950s and 1960s, the natural antiseptic was forgotten and Tea Tree Oil production collapsed … this was until Eric White set his mind to bringing the remarkable qualities of this amazing Australian product to the world stage.
The healing oil
In 1978, Eric’s step son Christopher Dean was trekking overland through Africa with a group of Australians. Somewhere on this adventure, Christopher contracted a severe infection in his toenail.
After five months of trying to get rid of this infection using the knowledge of pharmacists, doctors, and folk medicine from around the world, Christopher was advised by the London School of Tropical Medicine that the infection was incurable and would require surgical removal of the toenail and the infected tissue. Help then arrived from Australia when his brother Michael brought him some precious drops of the Australian Tea Tree Oil that was produced by their step-father, Eric White. Within ten minutes of applying the oil, the intense itching and agonising pain which had caused bleeding all around the feet started to lessen. Within four hours the swelling of the toes and the redness had subsided to a near normal colour. Within four days there was a total remission of all symptoms and the feet were completely healed. Christopher realised his step-father had an extraordinary product on his hands.
When Eric White’s health failed, Christopher Dean and his wife Lynda continued his mission of bringing the power of Tea Tree Oil to the world. They had no home, nor any money. Their first house was built from the scrounged remnants of a timber scrap heap and what could be found from the local tip. There was no power or running water, and the land was regularly inundated and cut off, sometimes for weeks at a time, by the floods of the region. Yet here Christopher and Lynda could feel the magic in the trees. Taking the seed and following the careful planning of his step-father, Christopher continued the work Eric had started. The Deans started to sell their Tea Tree Oil at local markets. People quickly discovered the remarkable results for psoriasis, sores, eczema and rashes and also everyday problems such as cuts, stings, burns, pimples and vaginal infections. The response was overwhelming.
Recognising that they couldn’t do this alone without funds, and also the importance of creating this product for the whole world, the Deans established the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association and lobbied the government to get involved in supporting research and building up awareness of the wonder and value of Australian Tea Tree Oil. The Australian government got behind them with agricultural research, followed by detailed scientific studies on the applications of the oil.
In the mean time, Thursday Plantation bought a degraded cattle and sugar farmland in Ballina to establish sustainable and ecologically sound Tea Tree production in 1988. The Ballina factory distilled its first oil in 1989 and scientists began work in the Research and Development laboratories in 1990. The oil was delivered to Los Angeles, Vancouver, Dallas, London and on through Sweden, France, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. At the same time tens of millions of trees were being planted and a magnificent sustainable industry was now underway, returning hundreds of millions of trees to the native lands. At last Thursday Plantation had begun to reverse the previous 200 years of deforestation of the Tea Tree.
With the benefits of Tea Tree Oil becoming widely recognised and scientifically demonstrated, Thursday Plantation has leveraged its expertise in nature’s oils to offer additional medicinal grade oils and plant oil based products to respond to the health and beauty needs of many families in Australia and around the world.
Today, the Ballina factory is still at the heart of Thursday Plantation product manufacturing. The brand is now part of Integria Healthcare, one of Australia’s leaders in natural health solutions.