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Australian agricultural and rural life

Fruit industry

Commercial fruit growing in Australia began with the First Fleet and can be said to be based largely on introduced species.

On the voyage to Australia, Governor Arthur Phillip obtained seeds and plants of fruit trees en route from Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope, which were planted at Farm Cove in Sydney, in 1788. Early settlers created a growing demand for fruit, vines and other plants for their estates, and many cultivated their own orchards and vineyards.

As the population increased so did fruit-growing to keep pace. Developments in irrigation, canning and drying techniques, and refrigeration during the late 19th century, all lead to an expansion in the industry and export capabilities.


Today, Australia's horticulture industry comprising fruit, vegetables and nuts, is one of the nation's largest agricultural industries. The industry, which is labour intensive and seasonal, comprises mainly small-scale family farms, although there is a growing trend towards larger scale productions. Production involves the growing of fruit and vegetables for domestic and export markets, as well large scale processing and canning operations. The industry has a long held reputation for quality primarily due to the high standards across all stages of the supply chain, from farmer to consumer.

The major fruit growing areas in Australia include the Goulburn Valley of Victoria; Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area of New South Wales; Sunraysia district of Victoria/NSW; Riverland region of South Australia; northern Tasmania; and the coastal strip of both northern NSW and Queensland. While fruit is grown across the country, Queensland is known for its tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapple and avocados, while the other states concentrate more on stonefruits, apples, oranges, grapes and vegetables.

Sweet & juicy fruit



This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

Supported by Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation