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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

North Queensland

Sugarcane!

Okay so not that much of a tourist attraction but there's just so much of it to see in north Queensland. According to our guide to the local region the sugarcane stretches south for over 2,000 kilometres. (That's a lot of sugar!) Australia gets all of its sugar from sugarcane, I was surprised to learn years ago that Europe gets theirs from sugar beets. (It seems there's not a lot of tropical weather for the growth of sugarcane!!)




Sugarcane used to be harvested by hand, with men going out into the cane fields and slashing at the cane with machetes. It was hard and slow work, and one that provided employment for immigrant workers. It's interesting to see the amount of north Queenslanders who farm sugarcane that have Italian surnames and yet speak English with broad north Queensland accents! Their fathers and grandfathers first went up north to earn money by cutting cane, some then earned enough money to buy their own places and their descendants continue to grown sugarcane.

The cane is now cut by a mechanical harvester which was invented in Australia. From the harvester it gets loaded onto large bins which run on railway lines, there are railway tracks running alongside the road. It's currently harvesting time so I saw quite a few sugarcane bins, either full or empty on the tracks. A train then transports the full bins to the mill.

Returning back to Port Douglas, we were stopped at one train crossing as a loaded up train was going into the mill.



At the train crossing in Mossman, with the old country hotel in the background. Mossman is an agricultural town servicing the local area.



This shows the size of the train carrying the harvested sugarcane to the mill (which is just further up the picture, there's some feint smoke in the centre which was coming from the chimney at the mill) The train with all its carriages was incredibly long, it really made an impression as to how much sugarcane is harvested 'up north'.

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