• Staff from the Aboriginal owned and run cafe Thulii Ngemba. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Aboriginal woman Trish Frail is using culture to promote healthy food, with every dish in her Brewarrina cafe incorporating an Indigenous twist.
Bernadette Clarke

25 Mar 2021 - 4:59 PM  UPDATED 25 Mar 2021 - 5:00 PM

Aboriginal owned and run cafe Thulii Ngemba has been open for just over a month, with the goal of providing healthy food to the community.

Ngemba woman Trish Frail is the proud business owner and manager of Thulii which means 'sand goanna' on Ngemba land in Western NSW, Brewarrina.

"I wanted to go into my own business. I wanted to reflect my own culture. I've been on a wonderful journey learning about native foods."

"It's been fantastic because I've been able to take my knowledge and pass it back into the community and pass it back to my staff."

Everything on the menu is cooked with a native twist; the menu includes steaks that are marinated with strawberry gum, wattle seed or bush tomato, lemon myrtle chicken and salad dressings with their own herbs and spices.

Ms Frail says it's important to have healthy food in her community, especially when so many people are so used to eating unhealthy, deep-fried food.

The cafe is getting some online attention after Ms Frail's proud daughter Charlee-Sue posted a Twitter thread. 

Multi-billion dollar company Coca Cola has approached Ms Frail up to three times asking her to sell their products. Each time she has politely but firmly declined.

"Coca Cola is rich enough, they don't need me and more importantly our community doesn't need them, we don't need that type of sugar," she told NITV News smiling.

She's glad that she's been able to help the community think differently about what they consume.

"We have some people that come here on a daily basis that I know for a fact were eating hot chips every day. They're slowly learning not just to get back into our own traditional foods, but look at a healthier options to eat."

Also at the front of Ms Frail's mind is keeping her Country healthy.

"I am a Ngemba woman. I love my culture, I love my Country. I can't be a hypocrite and talk about Country and then use every plastic product that's around, so I try to use as many biodegradable products as what I can get. We don't need to make more of an impact on the environment."


Ms Frail spoke broke into a grin each time she reflected on her business, particularly when asked about the two staff members she hired who have never had a job before.

"It's just wonderful watching these young girls - just seeing these girls who don't have any confidence, who've never worked before go and serve a customer - they didn't have that kind of confidence before but they're slowly getting it."

"My community to me means everything regardless of who you are or what you are. To be able to get the community to start thinking about different ways about how to eat, to me that's just one of the biggest honours I've been given."