Eucalyptus oil has been produced in Australia since 1852 when Joseph Bosisto commenced production in a small still at Dandenong Creek in Victoria. It was hard work, with the raw eucalyptus leaves cut by hand with special sickles and slashers. It was collected and carted in by wagon to distillerys where the leaves were dumped into vertical iron stills set into the ground below wagon level for easy filling. A lid was then put on and sealed with mud. Steam from a nearby boiler was turned on and after it had carried over the volatile oil, the spent leaves were hoisted out by derrick.
These days, production is a little more refined. The “Blue Mallee” which is considered to produce the best oil is slashed using tractors every two years. It is put straight into a mobile still which is towed behind the tractor. It takes 5 kilograms of leaf to produce enough oil for a 50ml bottle of oil.
Several of these old stills exist around Wedderburn. Ask a local for some directions to a few or at the Tourist Information Office in Wilson St.