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. Bananas are also grown in Kununurra in WA, but this is a tropical region.
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. One of Australia’s oldest festivals is the Tweed Banana Festival which held its first event in 1955 and continues to be a major annual event in Murwillumbah in the Tweed Valley.
There are now about 267 plantations of greater than 0.5 ha in New South Wales.
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.
In 2016 there were 47 banana plantations in Carnarvon, covering about 120 hectares and producing bananas primarily for the Perth market. The plantations are located in the Gascoyne irrigation district, along the Gascoyne River, where a variety of horticultural crops are grown.