Photo report - Helen Hill

Australian Tropical Fruit Paradise

Each year tropical fruit growers, aficionados and the public gather in the small Far North Queensland town of Innisfail to enjoy a week long celebration of tropical fruit, Feast of the Senses. Each year the seasons change and the variety and number of fruit available in that week varies.

A Gala Dinner is held for several hundred people in a beautiful Art Deco Hall where the menu includes tropical fruit prepared in many innovative ways. The last Sunday is Market Day which attracts a large crowd some visitors travelling large distances to attend. These are the people who are interested in meeting growers, asking questions and seeing a colourful display of many familiar and rare fruit.

Helen Hill an enthusiastic Achacha grower and marketer in Australia can be seen at many markets and festivals promoting the fruit. A couple of weeks ago she was at the Feast of the Senses tropical fruit festival.

She took some photos to share with FreshPlaza. There were over 50 varieties gathered from orchards, collectors and rare fruit trees from northern Queensland. At the end of the market day the fruit display is auctioned off to an eager crowd; the Durian, even with its powerful and sometimes overwhelming odour, usually reaches the highest price.

Fruit growers set up stalls early on Sunday morning and at 9am the public start to pour in.

Peter Saleras has a large variety of fruit on his plantation near Mission Beach including pomelos, rambutans, starfruit, bananas, lychees and jackfruit. Here he is seen holding a Buddha Hand, a most unusual tropical citrus.

What would we do without vanillas pods which create vanilla essence. Fiona George, and her family, are experts in growing these vines which need a special technique to hand pollinate each flower early in the morning. She grows Bourbon vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) at the foothills of Mt Bartle Frere with up to 600cm of rain in the summer season. Broken Nose Vanilla has a range of gourmet products sold through specialist delis.

This year the Achacha season had drawn to a close so only a few boxes were available from sampling but the Achacha honey was sold on the stall.

Where would the world be without bananas? Feast of the Senses is an opportunity to try many varieties of this very popular fruit which are not found in fruit shops. The banana stall is probably the biggest and always includes a competition to guess the weight of a large banana bunch. Banana smoothies a very popular as the weather is usually quite hot and they are very refreshing.

Davidson plums and finger limes are native Australian tropical fruit. Davidson’s make beautiful sauces and jams and fingerlimes are like a citrus cavier wonderful in sorbets and sprinkled over fish.

One fruit which was notable in its absence is the mango. Even though each plantation’s harvest last for approximately three weeks the season lasts for almost six months. Plantations stretch from the Northern Territory to North Queensland down the Queensland coast to northern New South Wales. This image was on Peter and Paul Lefeuvre’s Acton Plantation in the Burdekin area just south of Townsville.

Many stalls feature fresh drinks, smoothies and ices made from this wonderful bounty.

"We can’t wait for next year!" concludes Helen.

Helen Hill
Tel: +61 417 275 457

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