Before visiting Tropical Fruit World, I had preconceived ideas of a huge plastic fruit landmark not dissimilar to the Big Pineapple in Nambour and the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour.
So with some reluctance, we decided to check it out as a tourist destination while holidaying in Cabarita Beach near Murwillumbah.
Tropical Fruit World
Well in one way we weren’t disappointed as there was a ruddy great big avocado out the front but we were also pleasantly surprised.
Once we got over the avocado, the day turned out to be a highly enjoyable tour full of fascinating information, tastings and side excursions.
Tropical Fruit World & Research Park began in 1972 as an avocado research centre.
Set on a hillside and enjoying the regional annual four metres of rain, it is now run as a family business with many long term employees.
Jason our guide had been there 17 years.
It has become one of the largest working tropical fruit farms in the world and boasts 518 different exotic varieties of fruit.
What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?
Well fruit have seeds, mainly on the inside except if you are a strawberry.
So there are many fruits that you may not know as fruits such as avocados, tomatoes and chillies.
After walking through the Magic Garden Avenue our tour began with a talk about fruit followed by a short Fruit Tasting Session thrown in for good measure.
I had made a pact with myself to taste things I had been too scared to try before.
So I had a go at white dragon fruit, longan, jak fruit, star fruit, pomelo and mamey sapote.
The latter particularly fascinated me as it tasted like a vegetable, not unlike a sweet potato.
For a driving holiday or touring on a motorcycle in southern New South Wales, Grand Pacific Drive near Wollongong has wonderful scenery and plenty of attractions along the way like these Kiama attractions.
Dragon fruit chocolate
Not only that, but it came in a black version which apparently tastes like chocolate and can be used as a chocolate substitute in smoothies or ice creams.
As they had black sapote-coconut-yoghurt ice blocks in the Fruit Market which we just HAD to try (in the 34 degree heat and 80% humidity), and boy, I was sold.
It’s a shame they weren’t in season yet or I would have bought up big time.
Jason took us all on his Tractor Train tour of the Tropical Fruit Plantation, all 175 acres of it.
The Gardens of the World included Indian, Aztec, Mexican, South Pacific and SE Asia gardens.
We saw so many fruit trees, varieties I had never heard of, from all around the world.
I couldn’t believe how anyone could amass such a collection of these rare fruits from around the world.
We tested our tastebuds on blue bananas and our hands at cracking macadamia nuts straight off the tree.
Old McDonald’s Farm
Part of our tour included Old McDonald’s Farm where we could feed kangaroos, emus, a very vocal (incessantly bleating) sheep and a draught horse (called Sherman, of course!).
Wildlife boat cruise
There was also a quiet peaceful Wildlife Boat Cruise on Water Lily Lagoon around a man-made island.
The only sounds were geese who once spotting our boat, made a bee-line for us from the banks for their cursory feed of white bread.
We spent a short time walking around Treasure Island.
A few amusements for children included a putt putt course, and a scary flying fox slamming riders into a large sand hill to come to a rather abrupt halt at the end.
Not one for any faint hearted, over sized adult wanting to have a go!
However, the inner child came out in me when it came time to sit aboard a miniature railway as we choo choo’ed our way around the island.
Complete with line changers, train yards and signals, I felt like a kid again!
Rainforest shop and cafe
Jason turned up with his tractor pulled carriages to take us all back up the hill to the Rainforest Gift Shop and Rainforest Café, to bring our day’s fun to an end.
Their exclusive selection of unusual food, condiments, beauty products and homeware goods was too much to take in.
There was something for everyone.
Unfortunately, the café had almost sold out of its cakes and the coffee machine was already turned off by the time we got there.
So much for being on the last tour of the day – so be warned, and go early!
Look out for tourist vouchers that offer reduced prices as you may feel that $45 per adult is a little expensive compared to other attractions in the area.
And allow yourself at least three hours for this action packed adventure and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.