On Friday we were so very lucky to be able to join a Homeschooling Group day out. They had organised the Farleigh Mill Tour some time ago so I didn’t think that we were going to be able to join them. Yet at the last-minute I had a great email from the wonderful lady who was in charge of the event. She let us join the 8.00am tour.
Yeah I had to be awake super early, but I was so keen to be there that it didn’t matter what time I had to get up, and we made it (Only five minutes late due to the road works that seem to be always on going!)
Farleigh Mill Tour Guide
At First we watched a DVD and then it was time to get our safety gear on. From hair net to goggles, to hard hat to even ear plugs. It was taken care of. With strict instructions to hold onto our little ones hands, as well as hand rails going up and going down the many different level of stairs.
Dressed With His Safety Gear!
It was wise advice, and one that I was happy to use! Kyle’s hand has never been gripped so much in his short life. Those stairs were very steep and there was many. What we first noticed was the smells, and then the heat. We had to wear long sleeve shirts while on the tour. And we did. But gee it was so very hot ~ sweeet was pouring off us in big amounts. Lucky I had taken long sleeve shirts to only wear while on the tour ~ as soon as we were finished they were taken off. OH and long pants was also a must.
The tour was fascinating and I am surprised with how much Kyle does remember. He took a lot in that day.
The Sugar Cane Comes in ~
and is weighed before being tipped out!
Facts and Figures::
- Number of farms that supply Farleigh Mills is about 395
- Number of farms that supply the 3 Mackay Sugar Mills is about 1540
- Number of growers for the three Mackay Sugar Mills is 1030
- Estimated Tones of Cane to be Crushed at Farliegh ~ 1, 577,000
- Number of Employees at Farleigh Mill in the Crushing Season is 112
It was so hot inside ~
but it was so good to see how it all works!
Background Information On Farleigh Mill
- The mill was built-in 1883
- By Sir John Bennett Laws
- It was in operation for a short time but was stopped for a few years
- Sold to the Farleigh Estate Sugar Co in 1900
- It assumed its roles once again in 1921, taking care of the District south of the Pioneer River
- With extra costs and commitments along with poor seasons meant the company was forced into liquidation in 1926
- Growers then purchased the Mill, operating it on a co-operative basis
- In 1956 construction work began on the mill’s own rail line to the north coast areas
- In 1997 Mackay Sugar committed $14 million to upgrade the summit section of the line
- This upgrade means its able to cope with increased tonnage and deliver transport cost savings
- Giving flexibility to the running of the mill
- In November 1987 Farleigh Mills growers all voted together to form the Mackay Sugar Co-operative association
- Since 1940’s there has been reconstruction and modernisation to the plants machinery to help with the increase of the sugar.
- Today it’s very successful with over 115 employees in the crushing season
The Outside of the Sugar Mill ~
There are 7 Main Steps in the Milling Process ::
- Weigh Bridge and Tipper :: this is where the sugar is weighed and then is tipped into the cane carriers, where it is taken to be shredder ~ to be chopped up and shredded.
- Crushing Mills :: Rollers crush the cane twice ~ crushing the cane and processing it into raw sugar. The remaining material is called Bagasse and is used as a fuel in the mill boiler furnace
- Clarifier :: the impurities are removed with adding lime and then boiling the limed juice. The clear juice runs off from the top of the clarifier. The muddy juice is extracted from the bottom of the clarifiers and then its mixed with the fine bagasse. Then gets filtered.
- Evaporators :: Clear juice from the Clarifier is concentrated to a syrup by evaporation. There is a vacuum that is connected to vessels called evaporators.
- Vacuum Pans :: About 65% sugar syrup is boiled again ~ in vacuum pans and more water is evaporated. When it reaches a certain concentration than raw sugar crystals form and grow. Once the crystals reach a good size the mixture of syrup is released through the pans.
- Centrifugals :: Syrup is separated from the raw crystals ~ in huge baskets which spin at a high-speed. The dark syrup surrounding the crystals is thrown off through the spin. The spun-off syrup is boiled again. More raw sugar crystal is recovered. This procedure is repeated until the amount of sugar which can be obtained is too small to make further financially sense. Molasses, the syrup from the final stages, is used mainly as a stock food! And is also used in distilleries to make industrial alcohol, rum and carbon Dioxide.
- Driers :: raw sugar from the centrifugals is dried by being tumbled through a steam of air in a rotation drum. Then transferred to short-term storage in bulk bins
The Machinery Inside ~
was old but still worked so well
What Kyle Can Remember ::
They spin the molasses to get the sugar out. They have a drop hole for the sugar cane. They do not waste it, they put it in the drain and it takes it back up to the conveyor belt.
Tour Guide ~
Showing us how it all works!
The Farleigh Sugar Mill Tour took over an hour to see it all, and was worth the money we spent! We actually would like to take our whole family back there.
Have You Been To A Cane Sugar Tour?
New Life on the Road