Bowl of exotic tropical fruit used for the fruit tasting Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm at Cape Tribulation
Bed and Breakfast accommodation on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest  at Cape Tribulationand white-lipped tree frog
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About Alison and Digby Gotts - Cape Tribulation

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DECEMBER 2000 NEWSLETTER

Hi folks. Digby has just completed his second three month contract in Samoa and we have returned home to Cape Trib for 5 weeks over Christmas to work on the orchard, before returning to Samoa at the end of January for the final 3 month contract.

The time in Samoa has been interesting with a consolidation of the progress made in the first 6 month contract. Digby has organised many workshops on tropical tree care and diversity in villages through the Women’s Committee network over the last 3 months and now takes a back seat and leaves the workshop delivery to the local Samoan staff he has trained – and they do a wonderful job, with all the teaching in Samoan, and lots of raucous jokes and laughter.

He has had many requests to go and visit individual farms and provide advice on a variety of topics – and built up good relationships with local farmers – it has meant he has had the opportunity to explore the remote nooks and crannies of the two islands, as many of these farms – or plantations – are well off the beaten track. The generosity of the Samoans is legendary, and their gifts of fruit and honey are really appreciated. He has instigated the planting of orchards in the grounds of the village hospitals, and now the opportunity is available for free fruit trees to any community organization who wish to establish an orchard. So the fruit is getting out to the people.

The Samoan Observer – the local newspaper – has published a series of articles Digby has written about fruit from a local Samoan perspective, and this has raised his profile, as ‘Digby the fruit tree man’.

Meanwhile, while we have been away the orchard at Cape Trib is thriving in the wet conditions – the area has had over 7 metres annual rainfall this year, and the trees have grown markedly. The main excitement is that our Mangosteens are fruiting for the first time – about 20 trees have fruit – each tree has up to 30 fruit. The sad news is that they may not be ripe before we have to return to Samoa. These trees are eleven years old. The capital city markets are currently paying $100 a tray for the early season Mangosteens. The Salak palms are also bearing quite a crop for the first time – of the 1200 plants I would estimate that about 60 palms have a crop, usually just one or two bunches.

Many of the trees that suffered badly from the cyclone nearly 2 years ago have now grown so much new vegetation that it is difficult to believe that they were stripped bare. Some of the Durians which we pruned back to a stump have now sent up a large number of new shoots and formed a dense tree canopy.

There are a number of trees fruiting for the first time – the Keppel from Indonesia, and the Rambai which is hanging in long strings. There are Jakfruit dropping off trees at all times of the day with a big splot when they hit the ground, and there are passionfruit and bananas everywhere, and the abius are loaded with fruit, including damaged trees from the cyclone which now have fruit on the new suckers. Two seedling Durian – Montong variety from Thailand – which we collected as seeds in Bangkok in October 1988 are now fruiting for the first time.

Our caretaking arrangement on the farm did not work out, and we asked the caretakers to vacate the property. There are some interesting lessons to be learned from the experience. Our advice to anyone in a similar situation is to install tenants on a rental arrangement, and then use the money from the rent to pay someone to work on the farm, and organise a property manager to oversee the whole situation.

The tourist season at Cape Trib has been poor this year – a good time to be away. This has been put down to everyone heading south to the Olympics. It seems that there are expectations for a bumper year in 2001. So we are doing our best to complete our first Bed and Breakfast Cottage in readiness for next July. The pressure is on, as we already have our first booking – a neighbour’s mum and dad who are arriving from Scotland in August.

The farm website at www.capetrib.com.au continues to attract about one thousand people a month, mainly people looking for information on exotic fruit. We have added a discussion board to the site so people can ask questions, and it seems to be attracting some interesting questions.

Some of you may not be aware that we had a major house fire in July while we were overseas – cause unknown and put down to spontaneous combustion by the fire inspector. It started in the carport and most of the farm tools were destroyed including my whippersnipper. The new whippersnipper is much lighter than the monster which was burned and is a delight to work with – a stihl – and instead of plastic cord I can use plastic butterfly wings, which seem to slice through anything less than 2 cms thick – what joy!

This year has also seen the passing of our loved Rottweiler Jessie, in June, again while we were overseas. For those of you who have visited our farm, I am sure that you will remember her escorting the fruit tasters around the orchard and supervising the ducks. She was 12 years old, and she arrived on the farm as a new puppy six months after we did. Her apprentice, Mia has now taken over full responsibility for guarding. At 2 years old her energy is boundless.

We are now working flat out in the orchard – the bananas are so dense that we are having to use the chainsaw to get them back under control. Hopefully by the time we leave at the end of January, the orchard will look fantastic and last until we return in June.

That’s all the news we can think of - happy new year to the 80 people who choose to receive this newsletter and all our ramblings!

Alison and Digby

 

 

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Bed and Breakfast accommodation on an exotic tropical fruit orchard at Cape Tribulation in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest
Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm, Lot 5 Nicole Drive, Cape Tribulation, Queensland, 4873, Australia - Tel: 0740 980057 - Fax: 0740 980067
info@capetrib.com.au.

Last updated December 19, 2013