Farleigh Sugar Mill

Mackay produces one third of Australia’s sugar and from July to November the mills purr into action during sugar cane crushing season. Farleigh Sugar Mill, 10 minutes north of Mackay city, opens its doors to show you during a two hour guided tour the process of turning cane into sugar and molasses within a working mill. Tours are conducted at 9am and 1pm daily from July to November.

Farleigh Mill was built in 1883 and has undergone many upgrades. You can see the age in the building. Learn what Bagasse is and how it is recycled to keep the mill going. Learn about the many products that come from the sugar cane. See the whole process from when the cane arrives, to the dispatch of the finished product.

The crushing season runs from about July to early December so plan your visit during this period. The off season provides a period for maintenance. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and was able to answer any questions about the process. There are a number of stairways to climb so it is advisable to be reasonably fit and not be afraid of heights. Due to OH&S regulations you are also required to wear covered footwear, long pants and long sleeves. As you are guided along in the process of sugar production you are given an opportunity to taste the product at various stages.

Tours are conducted at 9am and 1pm daily from July to November, bookings to be made through Reeforest Tours.

Farleigh Mill was built in 1883 by Sir John Bennett Laws, founder of the world's oldest agricultural research station at Rothamsted, UK, which is still functioning. The mill originally operated a plantation; however cultivation was suspended after a few years. The mill was sold to the Farleigh Estate Sugar Co Ltd in 1900 and improvements were made to crush cane previously crushed at several other Mackay district mills - Ashburton, The Cedars, Coningsby, Pioneer, Richmond, Nindaroo, Habana and Dumbleton.

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In 1921, Farleigh assumed responsibility for crushing cane from the Rosella district, south of the Pioneer River, after the CSR Company discontinued operations at the nearby Homebush Mill. The extra cost and commitments involved in this transaction, together with several poor seasons, forced the company into liquidation in 1926. The mill was then purchased by its growers and operated on a co-operative basis.

Farleigh Mill growers voted to merge with other Mackay district mills to form the Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association Ltd in November 1987.

Mackay Sugar committed $14 million to extensive upgrading of the Summit section of the rail line in 1997 to eliminate several kilometres of steep grades. The upgraded line is able to cope with increased tonnages and deliver transport cost savings and scheduling flexibility to the mill.

Extensive reconstruction and modernisation of the mill's plant and machinery has been undertaken since the 1940s to increase output and improve efficiency.

Location: Armstrong Street, Farleigh, Qld

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