Heavy bushfires have brought chaos and suffering to farmers in northern New South Wales, with thousands of hectares of farmland burnt and tonnes of crops scorched.
Banana farms burnt to the ground
The fire hitting the Nambucca Valley has two destroyed everything in its path on banana plantations at Taylors Arm, owned by the Spear brothers. Stephen and Michael grow bananas on adjacent farms where crops, packing sheds and other infrastructure have gone up in flames. Stephen Spear said it would take more than a year to return to full production and until then that meant no income.
"All the bananas have been burnt," he said. "I've also had avocados in and I think I've only got about 1 per cent of my avocados that haven't been touched by fire at the moment." Mr Spear said that he and his brother also both lost their packing sheds. "They've just collapsed in, so they'll just have to be bulldozed away and new packing sheds put in. The cost to me out of production is no income for 12 months. I've already been to see my local credit union about my mortgage so it's pretty serious. We will have some fruit before 12 months because there's probably suckers growing up there at the moment that are probably 10-foot high that we might get a bunch off."