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CURRENT MEDIA INFORMATION

Skybury is an incorporated company based near Mareeba, Tropical North Queensland.  We are an hour’s drive from Cairns’ central business district and international airport. Founded in 1987, Skybury is the oldest commercial coffee plantation in Australia.  Producing world class coffee and tropical fruit while ensuring sustainable and ethical production are the cornerstones of our success.

Our Story

Skybury’s successful domestic and international reputation has blossomed through the hard work, innovation and hands-on approach of its founders, Ian and Marion MacLaughlin.

Ian was born in South Africa and raised in Zimbabwe where he met his wife-to-be, Marion.  Leaving a career as an army captain after the onset of the Robert Mugabe regime, Ian and his family moved to Oman and then onto the United Kingdom. 

Australia’s culture and climate beckoned and the MacLaughlins emigrated in 1987, settling on the Atherton Tablelands at Australia’s oldest coffee plantation.  The couple share a passion for their adopted homeland and a deep connection to the land itself. 

Skybury Farms are now home to four generations of the MacLaughlin family.

Our Farms

Our farms are based in Paddy's Green outside Mareeba at the northern end of the fertile Atherton Tablelands. Skybury’s plantations now cover an area of 300 hectares and are made up of several separate properties. At around 500 metres above sea level, at the apex of the Great Dividing Range where sandy soils and the climate provide perfect growing conditions,  Skybury grows coffee, red papaya and other tropical fruit varieties. We produce approximately 40 tons of green coffee per year and over 2.5 million kg of sweet red papaya. Across the papaya, coffee and tourism operations, the business employs approximately 100 people. Skybury remains Australia’s largest exporter of Arabica coffee (about 50% of the Skybury crop is exported) and was the first Australian grower to export green coffee to Japan, Europe, Canada and the United States.

We are the largest papaya grower in Australia, producing 50% of the total crop. Our fruit is distributed across the Australian eastern seaboard to centres such as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and is available from good supermarkets and grocers. The farms source irrigation water from the Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Scheme, which is supplied from Lake Tinaroo on the southern Tablelands. The irrigation scheme supports over 900 farms and underpins the supply of a huge variety of produce, including avocados, mangoes, limes, table grapes, sugarcane and cotton. In 2018, Skybury acquired the neighbouring Maloberti Farm and its NQ Gold coffee brand choosing to retain the NQ Gold brand as a way of keeping an important part of Australia’s coffee heritage alive.

Sustainable Farming

We strive to lead in sustainable agricultural management principles. We farm not only for today, but for tomorrow, in ways which are both environmentally sound and economically dynamic. Our commitment to research and development, as well as our longer-term view for sustainable farming, has led to fundamental changes to how we farm. Measures we deploy include water conversion, renewable power, erosion control, integrated pest management and dual cropping.

Sustainability is more than the environment; supporting the local community is equally as important. We do this through employment, procuring goods and services from local suppliers, sponsoring events and becoming involved in the social fabric of our community.

Skybury’s people are our greatest asset. They drive the business forward each and every day.  Some stay with the company for six months, earning money and building friendships and experiences before they travel the world. Others have been with Skybury for many years and are the backbone of its workforce. Some join us from PNG, working under the seasonal workers program, gaining skills, experiences and the financial backing to make a real difference to the livelihoods of their families and their communities.

Agri-Tourism

In 2006, Skybury opened the Skybury Cafe and Roastery, further diversifying the business through a farm based tourism experience and building on Skybury’s strong brand recognition in the market. The facility remains a key part of the business, attracting over thousands of visitors each year and providing an opportunity to showcase the quality and versatility of local Mareeba produce.

With design that harks back to the bush lodges of Southern Africa and sweeping views across the Great Dividing Range, this stunning, award-winning timber building overlooks the plantations and is the heart of Skybury Farms. 

The Cafe & Roastery is open from Monday – Friday from 9am – 4pm and offers:

  • Memorable al fresco dining overlooking the plantation • A menu inspired by the produce we grow • Indoor and outdoor function and meeting facilities • Coffee and fruit tasting. • Extensive interpretive facilities • Unique merchandise.

Media Contact: Paige MacLaughlin T: 0402 627 290 E: paige@skybury.com.au