The Sugar Industry on the Capricorn Coast
Life at Farnborough
Pay and Rations
The first South Sea Islanders for the Yeppoon Sugar Plantation came from the Solomon Islands in September 1883. The mill manager had reported to the Company that he was hampered by shortage of labour; he was offering good wages of 30 shillings a week to European workers but could not get good ploughmen or horse-drivers. Islanders were paid only six pounds a year and were supplied with rations and clothing as listed below. However the Islanders were traditionally gardeners and fishermen and had no difficulty in supplementing their rations, catching fish and growing their own vegetables.
Food and clothing issue

Beef or mutton  
Bread or flour   
Molasses or sugar  
Or rice    
Or maize meal  


1lb daily
1lb daily
5oz daily
2lb daily
4oz daily
8oz daily
1.5oz weekly
2oz weekly
4oz weekly

2 yearly
2 pair yearly
1 yearly
1 pair yearly
Although European style accomodation had been provided for them, they preferred the thatched island-style huts that they built for themselves in a camp beside a lagoon near the cane fields, The lagoon is still there but all trace of the camp has vanished. By 1900 the Yeppoon Plantation employed 200 people, mostly Islanders. Most of them were from the New Hebrides but people were known to have come from as far away as Manus Island.
Yeppoon was considered to be one of the best areas to work in and the plantation had a good health record but in 1884 after three Islanders died mill manager E. D. Melhuish was prosecuted for neglect by the Inspector of Pacific Islanders and Immigration Agent for Rockhampton W.F. Thurston. Efforts were also made to protect the Islanders from illegal traders and the licensee of the Pacific Hotel in Yeppoon was prosecuted for supplying liquor to Islanders working on the Yeppoon Sugar Plantation. In 1897 it was reported in the Morning Bulletin that unemployed South Sea Islanders were reluctant to move to Mackay as employers there were offering only £16 to £18 a year whereas they were accustomed to getting £26 around Rockhampton.
Image provenance unknown
The indentured worker's camp at Farnborough
Image provenance unknown
Worker's vegetable gardens
Image provenance unknown
Female indentured workers
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