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John Kearney, a founding member of Sweeter Banana and a pillar of Carnarvon's farming community, has left a mark on the Gascoyne region since his arrival in 1975. 

Having grown up in Perth, John's journey to Carnarvon was driven by his pursuit of a plumbing apprenticeship.


However, it was the charm and allure of Carnarvon's lifestyle that ultimately captured his heart.

“I came up to help work on the original Carnarvon Hospital. I looked forward to my days off though, I loved the fishing, community and how easy life was up here” 

John's fateful encounter with his wife, Christine, further solidified his bond with Carnarvon. 

Meeting at a local hostel, Christine, a true Carnarvon local, shared John's passion for the lifestyle and community of Carnarvon. 

It was serendipitous that Christine's father owned the very plantation that would become their livelihood, a legacy deeply entrenched in the family's history.

Christine's grandfather first came to Carnarvon as a respected blacksmith, his son - Christine's father-  choosing to move into farming and later, passing on the banana-shaped baton to Christine and John.


"Onwards and upwards. As long as everyone pulls together, as we do, I think we'll do well." 

Taking on the challenges of plantation life, John found fulfillment in the autonomy and tranquility it offered. 

"I enjoy the work I do," John remarks, "I've always loved it." However, he acknowledges the physical demands, particularly when it comes to harvesting the large bunches of bananas, as one of the toughest aspects of the job.

The resilience ingrained in John's character shines through when recounting the conception story of the Sweeter Banana co-op in 2001.

"We didn't like the way things were going for us as individual growers. At one stage it looked like the end for bananas in Carnarvon"

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He and other growers banded together seeking better market treatment and collective bargaining power.

"We realised as a group you get a bit more influence over where your produce goes and the pricing of your work”

This resilience was further demonstrated when John discussed the region's ability to bounce back from cyclone Olwyn.


A devastating weather event that flattened the plantations and halted business for 18 months.


"We really did lose everything but you bounce back and keep on going; you have to, it's a way of life" he states matter-of-factly.

Optimism radiates from John as he looks toward the future of Sweeter Banana. "Onwards and upwards," he declares, "as long as everyone pulls together, I think we'll do well." 

With a shared vision and a strong sense of community, John is confident in Sweeter Banana's prospects.

Beyond their agricultural endeavors, John and Christine have built a life together in Carnarvon, raising four children who have all remained in town and gone on to start their own businesses, bar their daughter who works away.

 "Living here and being members of the co-op, allows us to be involved with our kids and grandkids" John reflects, emphasising the importance of family and community ties.

As John reflects on the changes in Gascoyne's farming landscape, he highlights the advancements in technology, particularly in new value adding methods.

“The co-op has recently invested in a freeze-drier. We hope this offers a way to lessen wastage and the ability offer our product further afield”

In John Kearney, Carnarvon finds not just a farmer, but a pillar of the community whose dedication, resilience, and vision have helped shape the region's agricultural legacy.

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