John and Mary Walter had no idea that the small macadamia orchard they decided to plant in 2002 would end up attracting one of the largest macadamia nut growers in the world to their property.
Saratoga Holdings, an entity of the Zadro Family, headed by octogenarian Phil Zadro started noticing that the Walters Nogoa Valley Orchard nut crop that was processed at their Hinkler Park processing plant at Bundaberg, was increasing in quantity and quality each year. So he visited this new orchard in this new area to see for himself where and how the trees were growing.
And he liked what he saw.
So much so that he purchased the Nogoa Valley orchard and two other Yamala properties Cypress and The Bauhinias and began accumulating water licences to ensure that this Central Highlands macadamia project was well allocated with irrigation supply.
Cypress is now the home of a production line that has seen the creation of 50,000 new seedlings and which will build up to 260,000 seedlings housed under 12000sq metres of 30% shade netting.
The plants will grow out for 12 months before being grafted and ultimately planted out on the three properties. It will be 7 years before they begin bearing a commercial quantity of nut.
And already Phil Zadro is talking about expanding the nursery to help achieve a million tree planting programme that he believes will be necessary to cover his farms.
The Zadro family enterprise is another example of the incredible potential in non-traditional farming that exists in this Region and one that will build jobs and business opportunities. Manager Ian Walter said that since the start of the project that they had sourced local earthmovers, builders and agricultural machinery suppliers and had just purchased 7 new Tractors from Milne Bros.
Phil believes that they will ultimately plant about 2400 hectares in the local area over the next few years making it one of the largest orchards in the world. Dehusking plants will follow and when production begins to peak there will be a need for a processing plant. A truly exciting prospect for local businesses.
To ensure that our Region attracts these extraordinary opportunities, you need a Mayor who has the knowledge of his product and the overwhelming desire to expand our economic base with industry that complements our resources. Someone who can think outside the square and whose skills can turn prospect into reality for our communities. With your support I will continue to encourage and where necessary, invest, to bring sustainable new enterprise to our region.