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Australia's biggest banana producer expands north

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The Mackay family, Australia's biggest producer of bananas, has expanded its geographic footprint into Cape York Peninsula to avoid cyclones.

According to weeklytimesnow.com.au, the family had been looking to expand its operation ever since Cyclone Larry wiped out most of its Tully and Innisfail banana crop in 2006.

The Mackays spent $10m for the site at Lakeland, which is a former timber plantation 400km north of Tully and 70km south of Cooktown.

"We've got 250 hectares under bananas at Cooktown and a licence for 2000 megalitres a year for underground water," spokesperson Barry Mackay said.

Mackay said the soils at the Gold Tyne plantation are good, but water availability is a problem, and given Lakeland's remote location, so could labour.

"We will be employing 80 people at Lakeland. We already employ 400 at Tully, so we will locate some Tully people at Lakeland plus backpackers," he said.

He expects to be picking in 18 weeks.

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