The Sugar Industry on the Capricorn Coast
The Sugar Industry at Farnborough
The local industry began on William Broome’s Woodland property north of Yeppoon, Broome had undertaken experimental plantings and, impressed with the results and potential, he offered 1203 acres of his property for sale to establish a plantation in 1883, the Yeppoon Sugar Company was officially floated in April 1883 and the company took up Broome's land offer. The company prospectus described the estate of Woodlands as "1000 acres of magnificent land, splendidly situated on a gentle slope with a fine exposure to the sea-breezes and permanently watered from springs in the adjacent hills".
The sugar mill began operations, in the 1885 season with the production of 25 tons of sugar but by 1887 the company had 1000 acres under cane with some of the land returning as much as 60 tons, however a good average crop was considered to be about 20 tons to the acre.
The Company's mill was a proprietary one working on the principle of a central mill with independent farmers growing the cane and selling it to the mill owners however the growers were predominantly Sugar Company tenant farmers, although Europeans were employed at the Farnborough mill indentured South Sea Island labourers did most field work. The cane was taken to the Farnborough mill for crushing, then the raw sugar sent to the refinery at Bundaberg for further processing.
The only means of transport for the first sugar from Farnborough was by bullock wagon round the Yeppoon Bluff (using the beach at low tide) and, after 1888, twelve miles on to the nearest rail point at Tanby. The company had considered constructing a tramway and a jetty on the coast to allow direct loading onto cargo ships, but the estimated cost of £3000 proved too much for company finances.Yeppoon Sugar Company was continually plagued by lack of finance and investor interest but struggled on until 1888 when the Bank of New South Wales foreclosed and the company went into liquidation. New owners kept the mill going under the management of Rutherford Armstrong until its final closure in 1903 when all machinery and holdings were sold.
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A view of the mill from the managers residence
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The mill managers residence
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European overseers celebrating an occasion
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