If you wonder how to grow delicious bananas, you can find out about it by visiting the banana plantation in Innisfail, North Queensland. One of the banana plantations is owned by the Gaia family. Mike, Rene and Brett Gaia operate Gaia Farms, a 95-hectare banana farm bordered by Cowley and Liverpool Creeks, south of South Johnstone River in the wet tropics region of Queensland. The farm grows Cavendish bananas on the 60-hectare property and supplies their product to large retailers.
The first banana plantations in this area were started by the Chinese migrants working in the goldfields. In the Tully area, bananas were shipped to market via the Tully River and, in Innisfail, on the South Johnstone River. The trade in north Queensland bananas stopped during World War I when there were restrictions on local shipping and outbreaks of plant disease.
You can visit the GAIA banana plantation every Tuesday and Wednesday, excluding public holidays. The tour starts at 9am and bookings are essential. We were driving to the pick-up point and Mike was there waiting for us with his big smile. Before entering the farm, we needed to clean our shoes and put a special plastic cover on our shoes as well as wash our hands to prevent any outbreaks of plant disease.
Mike's old Jeep helped us to go around the plantations. We could see some workers harvest some banana. During the tour, Mike explained what this farm does to work as one with nature in order to provide a top-quality product to the consumers. The Gaia family's goal is to provide high-quality, nutritious food to the consumer that is grown in an environmentally sustainable way. From planting and cultivating to picking and production, Mike explained all to us.
Mike also told us how the market and consumers are very picky. As a result, lots of bananas failed to pass quality control. But Gaia Farm can turn them into custom compost blend and sell them to other farmers.
We got off Mike's Jeep and went to the sorting area and then to packaging. The tour continues to Mike's verandah where a light lunch, cuppa and sweet banana treat are made and provided by Renee, Mike's wife. It's a very informative tour and gave us a great insight into the trials and tribulations of growing that delicious yellow banana.