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Banana Farmer Ross Lindsay Looks Back on 50 Years as a Grower

Posted: 9am 31 Jul 2019

The banana industry has changed dramatically since Ross Lindsay started growing crops as a 15-year-old on his Wamuran farm. Here, Ross shares his story.

“I can’t ever see myself retiring. I couldn’t think of anything worse than just watching the waves roll in, or something like that. This is it.

The old boy, my father, bought the place in the early 1940s and he was a dairy farmer mostly when he bought it. My old man liked cows about as much as I do, so he said it would make a better banana farm.

Having said that, the Lindsay mob has been growing bananas in southeast Queensland since 1880. We just seemed to like growing bananas.

I left school just before I was 15, so I’ve been farming bananas on this farm for 50 years. Dad started me off and I’ve been basically operating in my own right since I was 16.

Dad, mum and my uncles had a ripening room complex at Toowoomba and we used to grow bananas, put them in the box, put them on a truck and send them off to them.

Then the world changed, we had supermarkets. Basically the supermarkets said, back in the mid 90s, we don’t want subtropical bananas anymore.

So, all us South East Queensland growers had to find other markets. What do we do now? We supply hospitals and nursing homes, farmers markets, people who do fruit boxes, sell some out the gate stall. We’ve diversified.

I don’t actually mind that because when you just pack them and put them in a box and send them off, you never had any contact with who actually ate them. Now, you have people come along for a chat and I quite like that.

Why do we grow bananas up in the hills here? Because we hide in among the timber and it gives you little microclimates. We’re above frost level and we don’t have too much drama with wind. It’s just a good subtropical climate. You can grow anything here.

I thought about moving away a couple of times, but here, we’re right on the market.

At the end of the day what you put into it, you get out of it. Sometimes you put a lot into it and you get a hailstorm or you get it blown over, so you get don’t get a lot out. Other times, it’s good.

The worst natural disaster I had was a hailstorm on December 15, 1980. All these things stick in your brain. That particular storm, I actually made it on TV.

Channel 7 flew a helicopter up here and landed. Pat Welsh got out and did an interview because all the bananas around here, everything you see, was blown over. I wasn’t the only one. At that time, there would have been about a dozen growers in the area, who were hit. The whole crop was pretty much decimated.

I still enjoy it, I like the challenge of it. I’m trying different types of bananas, we’re always trying different things. You win some, you lose some. My son Tony’s on the farm. I’ve got five grandchildren, three live north of Rockhampton and two are here. I’d like to see them continue it on, but only if they want to. I enjoy it, but they might want to do other things.

I eat bananas all the time. I just peel them and eat them, or have banana and custard.

People should eat more bananas. Find local bananas — there’s a lot of local bananas sold at Caboolture Markets.”

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