Sandy & Wayne Allwright, Outback Desert Rose

Katherine NT | June 2019

What is your business? How long has the business been operating?
We sell plants, mostly desert roses. We have 8,000 plants ready to be replanted, we have 2 major shadehouses, we have close to 100 different colours. People love the colour and the size of the tree.

We’ve been doing this for 4 years now as a business. We’re getting our crops up, selling more plants, including things like hibiscus, frangipani. We’ve sold over to Townsville, Mount Isa. We’ve had a bloke take some back to Tasmania!

To sell interstate, have to spray them, put a certificate on them. Kill the bugs, give them a chance to die, use fresh soil or can take them in wet papier mache.

Mostly selling to customers, not many wholesale nurseries.

What were you doing before you made contact with Many Rivers? What was your previous work experience?
I was growing trees, only had 4 colours and someone said, ‘There’s more than that out there’ and we started chasing things around to find more colours. Then a nursery fellow said, ‘Why don’t you try do this yourself?’ We did more grafting, then started getting stock up to get things moving.

Who referred you to Many Rivers? When?
Through IBA meetings, networking. They had people come in and that’s where I found out about Many Rivers

What services did you receive from Many Rivers? How did it help?
They helped us with a grant application, helped with our business plan and all that.

What did you find the most useful about the assistance from Many Rivers?
Getting things done more than anything, letting us know what’s out there, chasing things up, who’s around to talk to. It’s been really good, having them there to talk to.

Did you get a loan from MR? How did you use the loan?
We didn’t get a loan but they helped us get a grant to get started. Sandy deals with all that.

Do you have any current employees? If so, how many employees? Are they full time or part-time?
Just do it myself. Sandy does most of the book work. It’s good when Sandy’s out planting seeds with us. The bloke who has the shade house helps us as well.

What has been the biggest challenge to date?
Having issues with the man with the shade houses. He’s selling so we need to sort out the yard at home to get as many as we can here or we’ll need to buy his block. We’re getting things potted while we can. So we can move them out.

A big thing is people want to come and see the plants and sometimes we’re at home. And we need to go out to the plants. That can be hard.

What has been the biggest success to date?
Most we got was $1,250 in one day. We’re selling all over Australia but I need to get them out on the internet, get people further away looking at our plants.

What has been the biggest change for you/your family since you started your business?
I’m working a lot. I get home at 10, then I’m out in the yard getting it ready.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I’d like to have some staff, have things up and going. Would like to upgrade equipment and shade houses.

Gotta keep moving, gotta keep going. Right now I’m just one bloke doing it.