Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yes, we have no Bananas!

On my recent trip to North Queensland we passed through the town of Innisfail on the "Great Green Way". Innisfail was severely devastated by Category 5 Cyclone, Larry, in March 2006. The town has a population of about 8,000, and is the centre of the Johnstone Shire, which has a population of around 19,000 all up. It is located on the Cassowary Coast (named after the rare local native bird - more about these in a future post )between World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

This region today is Australia's largest producer of bananas, rivalling sugar as an income earner. Tea, Papaws and exotic tropical fruits are also grown.
Beef cattle are processed in a modern abattoir near Innisfail for domestic and overseas markets. Aquaculture also plays an important part in the region's economy, ranging from prawn, barramundi and fresh water crayfish to crocodile farming.

After more than two years life seems to be getting back to normal although there are still the odd one or two wrecks of houses remaining. We were told by a local tropical fruit winery owner that most of those would have been under-insured and if they hadn't rebuilt by now they had no plans too. The winery's crop of passionfruit was entirely wiped out too, so now they buy all their fruit in. Their Passionfruit wine is rather a nice drop too I might add, think it would go down mighty well with Strawberry, Mango and Passionfruit Pavlova. yum!

I was utterly amazed at the number of houses that have bright shiny new roofs in and around the town, it must have been terrible, almost every house seems to have been damaged. Innisfail is also known as the Art Deco capital of Australia. Many of these buildings can been seen in the centre of town. These were built after the town was devasated by a cyclone in 1918, so the town was rebuilt in the style that was popular at that time. There are many examples of Art Deco design facades including Spanish, Sicilian, Moroccan, Italian and Anglo Saxon.

I was also interested to see how the Banana crops were coming along. Things have improved somewhat as not that long ago, supermarkets were charging around $10.00 kilo for bananas. Now things have improved they're back to their pre cyclone prices.
Lots of green fruit appear to be hanging from trees all brightly bagged to keep fruit flies away. The bags reminded me of brightly coloured balloons of red, yellow blue, orange, silver and green hanging from the trees.

The pic above was taken on the way to the Tully Gorge a popular spot for White Water Rafting.


Maryanne Villalba said...

Hi Bernadine - My ILs live in Innisfail, and we saw the place not long after Larry had gone through. It's amazing just how it has come considering the devastation. Your post reminded me of the lovely quaint things that Innisfail portrays.
Thanks, Maryanne (mranne on BF)

Bernie said...

Hi Maryanne,
Lovely to hear from you. I have to say it had been many years since I last visited Innisfail. When I was a child living at Port Douglas we often drove to Halifax (north east of Townsville) to stay on my grandfathers farm. This last trip bought back many childhood memories, I did miss having to bypass some of the small towns that are now off the highway though and was sad to find that great little fish and chip place at Fishery Falls is no longer there.
That's progress for ya I guess.