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Our Story

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About Bush Balm

Our Story

The Bush Balm social enterprise is run by Purple House, an innovative Indigenous-owned and operated health service based in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory that runs 19 remote dialysis clinics in the NT, WA and SA, and two mobile units called the Purple Truck. Bush Balm provides employment opportunities for patients and their families and no cost bush medicine for Purple House patients year round. We support ethical, fair trade practices and respect Indigenous intellectual and cultural knowledge.

The Bush Balm rubs, moisturisers, soaps and lip balms were first produced by and for the growing number of Indigenous dialysis patients and their families around Central Australia. Forced to leave their country indefinitely for treatment, many longed for traditional bush remedies to remind them of home. Helen Martin and Marinka Bennet asked their family to bring in bush medicine plants to town so they could make some traditional medicine to compliment their Western treatment. They cooked up small batches in the backyard of Flynn Drive, over the fire in a billycan. Helen and Marinka made enough Irmangka balm to share with some other patients whilst telling their stories and memories of the past. Other patients and community members started hearing that you could get bush medicine from Purple House and so we decided to bottle the balms and the Bush Balms were born.

Today we pay traditional owners to wild harvest the Irmangka Irmangka and Arrethe and we grow Native Lemongrass in the garden of our Bush Balm store. We still make it in the same way except using a herb grinder instead of a grinding stone and cooking it over a stove instead of a campfire.

As Purple House’s core business is ‘keeping all our families well’, our primary focus as a social enterprise is making sure that our patients and family members throughout remote Australia have unlimited access to free Bush medicine. The retail trade also allows us to support Indigenous employment, training and the passing on of vital knowledge.

Created by people with an unbroken tradition of Indigenous intellectual and cultural knowledge, Bush Balms are truly made from the heart.

Local, Natural, Ethical

Locally made in Alice Springs NT​

Bush medicine plants wild-harvested on country in Central Australia

Bush Balm has won awards for its ethical and sustainable practices.

Our Testimonials

Hear from our customers