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Bananas to Beautizone: Coffs' Changing Summers

BY Coffs Harbour Regional Museum | 18-Dec-2018
From hard work on the banana plantations to booming tourism on the coast, the experience of summer and development of industry has changed in Coffs Harbour's recent history.
Bananas to Beautizone - Coffs Changing Summers
This exhibition explores how the experience of summer has changed in in the Coffs Coast region. In the first half of the 20th century, summer was a time of hard work for many residents of the Coffs Coast. Tropical fruit was one of the mainstays of the local economy and it ripened in the summer months. Growers, labourers and carriers laboured in the heat to get crops picked, packed and transported by rail to capital city markets.

After the Second World War however, the local business community recognised the potential of tourism as a major industry for the region. The late 1950s and early 60s were a boom period. A Mid North Coast Tourist Authority formed in 1956 and the area was christened the “Pacific Beautizone”, the catchy title chosen as the winner from over 1400 entries in a competition to name the area from the Clarence to the Nambucca.

The two industries were sometimes in conflict. Promoters of the Beautizone, for example, were not in favour of the Big Banana and the idea of agri-tourism, they wanted to promote sun, surf, relaxation and the natural assets of the area. To them, a giant artificial banana was not a thing of beauty - it was something that “might be seen in Hawaii or Queensland” they complained. Despite their protests, the Big Banana opened in time for Christmas 1964 and was an immediate success. In its first week of operation there were 2000 visitors each day. The Coffs Harbour Advocate reported that the “horticultural mammoth … held the spotlight”. The Mid-North Coast Tourist Authority had in fact shut down a few months earlier. The concept of the Beautizone went with it.