It started in Bob’s garden
"IT'S the Garden of Eden for me," says Bob Brinsmead, the owner of the Tropical Fruit Research Station at Duranbah, which has been his family home since the 1970s.
The 80ha property hosts 500 species of fruit/food producing tropical trees and vines and has become a major tourist destination since it opened to the pub-lic in 1983.
But few people know the impact the property has had on the development of the national agricultural industry.
We can thank the 80ha property, which boasts panoramic views of Mt Warning and the Tweed Valley and west to the Pacific Ocean, for helping to evolve two popular fruits.
Bob says important trials took place on the property when it used to be an experimental research station.
"It's the birthplace of both the Australian avocado and banana industry," he says.
"Before that there was none; the trials on this property were the foundations."
In the 1860s Irish pioneering family the McKeefes cleared the land to ran cattle.
In the 1930s they leased the land to the Department of Agriculture, who formed a partnership between the local banana growers for trials and research.
Today you can sample such exotic fare contained in the Indian, bush tucker, Mexican and South Pacific gardens.
And Bob continues with his quest for even more exotic edible foods.
A recent success is the Asian dragon fruit, 10 varieties of which will fruit in a year's time.
"The original vision of trialling different species is an ongoing interest for me," Bob says.
His two university-educated daughters are intrinsically involved in the business.
One handles development and marketing, while the other whips up unique dishes from the home-grown produce for the station's restaurant.
I sampled a paw-paw from Ecuador and a white star apple which tasted like sweet custard.
I left with a tummy full of lamingtons. Not the CWA standard.
This one was full of chocolate from the sapote tree with their shredded coconut, and more chocolate than the Cadbury's factory.