In Australia, bananas are grown in both tropical and subtropical regions. This ensures the industry is diverse in terms of:
- the geographical location of banana farms
- farming practices
- the size and type of farms that grow bananas
- banana varieties and
- the flavour of the bananas grown.
Where are the subtropical regions?
The subtropical growing regions are in south-east Queensland, northern New South Wales and the Carnarvon region of Western Australia.
New South Wales
Northern New South Wales was the home of the first major commercial banana plantations in Australia and the region is still an important growing region.
The Coffs Harbour area and further north along the far north coast of NSW were the main growing regions for bananas in Australia through the 1900s, up until the late 1900s when north Queensland began to increase production.
In 1891, Herman Reich started plantations in Coffs Harbour and surrounding areas. Other pioneering growers included Chinese and Italian farmers in the far north and Indian Sikh families north of Coffs Harbour, around Woolgoolga. The Italian and Sikh communities continue to be actively involved in growing bananas across Australia.
Currently, the main growing regions of NSW are in the Tweed and Brunswick valleys in the north, west to Lismore and south to Ballina, through to Coffs Harbour and further south to Stuart’s Point, which is south of Nambucca Heads.
Fruit is sent to the major markets of Sydney and Melbourne and is also enjoyed locally. NSW accounts for about 4% of the national industry.
The subtropical banana growing districts in south east Queensland provide fruit for local markets and shops with fruit also going to the Brisbane Markets at Rocklea.
In south east Queensland, the main banana growing areas are now Bundaberg, the Sunshine Coast and in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Carnarvon is Western Australia’s largest banana growing area, with some fruit also grown in Kununurra. Carnarvon bananas are typically smaller and sweeter than bananas from eastern Australia. A number of growers in the Carnarvon region are now part of the Sweeter Banana Co-Operative, supplying WA markets.