Clayton Donovan and Gavin Hughes
Clayton Donovan and Gavin Hughes

Bush tucker fare at Byron Resort’s Jaaning Tree

THE Byron at Byron Resort and Spa is hosting The Jaaning Tree as part of an Indigenous Food Weekend on July 19 to 21.

Clayton Donovan, owner and Chef at the Jaaning Tree in Nambucca Heads is the current darling of the food world.

With an Australian Good Food Guide's Chefs' Hat and his own television show, The Jaaning Tree, airing this year, Clayton's effusive charm and passion for native foods has won admirers the world over.

"We are a bit behind here," Clayton says. "Other countries celebrate their native foods but in Australia people don't understand the abundant food that's all around them. We need to get the ball rolling and bring native foods into mainstream cooking."

According to Clayton, the recent growth of the food miles movement has seen an increase in the appreciation for native bush foods. However it was not long ago that more of our bush foods were being exported than consumed domestically.

"There is a huge range, from a desert truffle to lemon aspen and quandong, wild carrots, lilli pillis, geebungs, wild raspberries and appleberries," he says.

"My aunty took me out when I was four or five and introduced me to bush foods."

After completing his training Clayton worked at Watermark in Balmoral Beach and at Aria before travelling to work in England's finest hotels and restaurants.

He now blends indigenous ingredients with Asian themes to produce unforgettable dishes such as citrus-cured crocodile and hot-smoked kangaroo in lemon myrtle.

"We still sell more kangaroo than beef" said Clayton.

"Jaaning Tree is an experiment," he says. "It's my man cave. I named the restaurant after the black wattle tree whose sap is used as a bush lolly.

"When I got in trouble as a kid that's where I used to hide, the Jaaning Tree.

"In there I created a lot of stuff in my head. And that's what my restaurant is; a place where I can develop ideas.

"I'm looking forward to working with Gavin Hughes at The Byron at Byron. He's really funny and apparently he's going to wear his kilt. He's proud of his heritage also."

Clayton will be using Brookfarm's macadamia products during the evening and will be ably assisted by the effervescent Pam Brook.

Bookings are available for the weekend or dinner only.

The weekend will feature a rainforest bush foods walk and talk, a cooking demonstration and a celebratory Indigenous dinner.


The Jaaning Tree Indigenous Dinner Menu


  •  Salumi Roosciutto with cauliflower and quandong
  •  Citrus cured crocodile with wasabi creme fraiche, pickled ginger and coconut
  •  Cheese and macadamia nut beignets with apple and Jaaning tree aniseed myrtle onion relish


  • Cartouche of market fish fillet with Warrigal greens dressed with Brookfarm lime and chill macadamia nut oil with Israeli couscous and finger lime


  • Lemon myrtle smoked kangaroo loin with beetroot, carrots, caramelised pear, Brookfarm macadamia nut oil and a chocolate jus


  • Davidson plum, rhubarb and custard with Brookfarm lemon myrtle oil

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