This all started with a letter from the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland, asking if the Rare Fruit Council of Australia Inc. would be interested in entering a rare fruits display in the 1990 show.
I thought it was a good idea and my wife Margaret and I were nominated as R.N.A. Show organisers.
After numerous phone calls and letters back and forth to the R.N.A., we started then on a sign, using every spare evening in the month prior to the show. I cut out a polystyrene sign, using our newsletter heading and multiplying the size 20 times by 4 inches thick. We painted the sides of the letters dark green and the face yellow.
Organising the fruit was also a blind stab, as even though people had been saying they would donate fruit, nothing was certain and the uncertainty was always there. No one knew what fruit would be available. But anyhow, we had placed in the freezer, months before, some immature fruit, hoping they would be suitable. There were durians, mangoes, breadnuts, santols, jaboticabas, mamey sapotes and lychees.
After a lot of phone calls, letters to all branches and to people who had volunteered fruit, the collection started. Two weeks before the Show we travelled to Wheatleys at Gordonvale to pick up pomelos. Wednesday, 1st August, we travelled from Tolga up to the Grays at Julatten, then down to the coast and into Cairns and picked up fruit from Geoff Parker, then back to Sheila for some books and on to Kuranda where Marjorie Spear had fruit, on to Cherryl Hawes in Mareeba for dried mango and fruit, then back to Tolga and collected all varieties of citrus from the Kajewskis. We then raided ours and Bill Smart's orchards.
Thursday, 2nd August, was spent packing all the fruit on a pallet and a trip to Don Kajewski who supplied about 40 trees for the display, as at this time there was still no guarantee trees would be available in Brisbane. These were packed into large cardboard bins for the trip south. Trees and fruit were loaded onto Heathers Refrigerated Transport and taken to a cold room at Rocklea Market, Brisbane.
Margaret and I left Friday, 3rd August, at lunchtime, driving down and taking our time.
We arrived at Brisbane about 2 p.m. Sunday and went straight to the Showgrounds and almost had a heart attack when we saw the mammoth job ahead of us. A restless night and Monday morning arming ourselves with cleaning tools, paint and brushes, we were joined at the Showgrounds by Joyce Allen, and made ourselves busy.
The trees were picked up from Rocklea and given a watering; only a couple were wilted, mainly because some roots were broken before leaving.
As most of the fruit is perishable, it was left as late as possible to start laying out the display, so all day Wednesday was busy. At 7.30 a. m. we were waiting for the gates to open at the markets, then we picked up the fruit and began the ordeal of writing up names for all the fruit.
Len Hampson arrived in the afternoon with a trailer load of monsterio leaves and plants for decoration and we were all kept busy. Joyce and Len got off to the Brisbane Branch meeting about sundown to organise some help to man the exhibit, where all volunteers received a free entry and meal ticket, while Margaret and I finished off at about 9 p.m., tired and wondering whether the work was all worthwhile.
Thursday, and the first day of the Show judging started early, and at lunch with the stewards and judges, we were told the Rare Fruit exhibit was 5th of 6 competitors and being the first year for us, I was surprised we got a place at all, as all the other exhibits were professionally done. The biggest boost of all was at Trophy Presentation on Saturday afternoon when the steward in charge of the agricultural hall publicly stated The Rare Fruit exhibit was the best crowd pleaser they have had for a long time. We were also presented with cheques for $870 and $106.
Sunday 12th, there were 5 tasting sessions where carambola, star apple, abiu, black sapote, pomelo, dried mango and rambutans were devoured. Joyce and I had to give extra help to the three ladies, as there were much larger crowds than at other fruit tasting. Margaret Thursby, the nutritionist from the C.O.D. was in charge of fruit tasting, and is most anxious to do in-store demonstrations and sampling with rare fruit. The object is for growers to get a big enough supply into a supermarket or hypermarket so sales can make it worthwhile.
On Tuesday, after each session of the citrus tasting, I was allowed to open a jakfruit, which drew a large crowd. As the interest shown in jakfruit was encouraging, I feel there would be a large market there to be tapped, and the same for black sapote where there was a lot of interest.
On the last day of the Show at 4 p.m., all stands were allowed to sell everything, and by this time a lot of our fruit was getting very ripe and all sold very fast.
Saturday, I met Wendy Higgins, Secretary of the Brisbane Branch and handed her 73 names and addresses of prospective members and she will invite each one to their next Branch meeting.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all workers at the Show for their help and the donors of the fruit whom we couldn't have done without: Joe and Ivy Zappala, Colin and Dawn Gray, Don and Irene Kajewski, John and Cherryl Hawes, Don and Chris Gray - Mossman Branch, Geoff Parker, Bill Smart, Mike Peninsular Nursery, Marjorie Spear, Bruno Fighera, Jack and Wilma Wheatly, Brian and Jan Dodds, Mike and Lindy Alba, Roger Goebel, M. and S. Rowell, Aub Taylor and not forgetting H.E. Heather Refrigerated Road Transport who transported all the trees and fruit free of charge for the Rare Fruit Council of Australia.
DATE: September 1990
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