Tribal Scent

Documentary / Lifestyle Entertainment

This is the story of sustainability and science through two parallel narrative arcs:
1. The ongoing sustainability of the exotic and endangered Sandalwood species in the deserts of Western Australia intertwined with the sustainability of a group of traditional aborigines.
2. The resultant ongoing sustainability of the French perfume industry as we know it.

Sandalwood is the basis of most of the world’s most expensive and exotic perfumes. Once prolific, 80% of it now comes from only one location, the outback of Western Australia. Tribal Scent follows the journey of choreographer, dancer, didgeridoo player, activist and tribal leader Dr Richard Walley. He joins forces with scientists and the world’s major perfume makers in Grasse, France. Together they work toward their shared goal of protecting one of the few remaining indigenous Sandalwood reserves in the world and, at the same time, protecting the harvesters in the outback deserts of Western Australia and thus protecting the sustainability of the high-end perfume industry itself.

But all may not be rosy. Illegal poaching has decimated the Indian industry. In Australia, poaching has been documented previously and it was thought to have been eradicated. But now, with the prices sky-high, there are new persistent rumours about poaching gangs. In the outback, Richard and his team go in search of evidence and proof.

Filmed from the ancient deserts of Australia’s outback to the modern cities of France, from New York to Bombay, from Fifth Avenue to the main street of Wiluna – Tribal Scent will also unravel the science behind the scents and the mystery behind the making of iconic perfumes.

View Tribal on the ABC here; Tribal Scent