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Sugar in Central Queensland.
The Yeppoon Sugar Plantation is the only existing one in Central Queensland, and has only recently begun to emerge from the cloud of depression which has
for some years past enshrouded the In dustry. It Is situated on the coast, some thirty miles to the north-east of Rock hampton, and about four miles to the north of the Teppoon township. Tanby, on the Emu Park Railway, is the nearest railway station, and is distant about eleven miles from the plantation, which has hitherto been compelled to cart all sugar, machinery, and stores that dis tance. It is probable, however, that a railway to Yeppoon will be constructed under the guarantee system at an early date, and that the Yeppoon Railway Sta tion will be connected with the plantation by a tramway, which will mean a great saving of expense to the proprietors. The township of Yeppoon is most pret tily situated in a valley or basin formed by the conjunction of two ranges which meet to the westward of Yeppoon. the two highest peaks of which, known re spectively by the names of Nuncoobah and Barmoyea. form one of the most marked features in the Coastal Range, and present a conspicuous landmark both from land and sea. The population of the township itself is between three and four hundred, but during the summer months a large num ber of seaside visitors resort to the place, and from November to February It is no uncommon sight to see two hundred or two hundred and fifty people on the bench at one tim*\ the said bench afford ingl PDlendid facilities for bathing, riding, driving, and sports of various kinds. There are some eighty or ninety houses of all sizes, Including S*ate school, post and telegraph office, police barracks, church, three hotels, three stores, and sornp bnlf-do7*»n large and comfortable residences. The township Is within the Gogango Division, but the Y*>oooon Pro jrress Annotation, a locallv-aopolnted body, which, meets every month, looks after all the minor requirements of the tnwn«bln. Tt is the post town and tele graob o^ce for a Inrsre area of country, and in the rnnch terminus on the coastal road, the resldpnts In the neighbourhood who recognise Yennnon as their post town numherlng about fifteen hundred. The formation of the ransrp« In the proTlrnlty of Vepnoon is prlnrtDnliv vol cnnlc. the poll on the slor^s. espedallv on those fnHne the ocean, being of a dark chocolate hue. and varying In depth from a few ln"hps to elcM or ten f»pt. or even more. The cnmtrv Is w»ter°d by numer ous nermnnpnt springs of really e-xeeiient water, all alone the ranees, and. In the alluvial pnn1 sandy flats, which comprise the area between the hlerh ground and the j»pft, water can be obtained almost BTivwhe'"p within a dO7en feot of the sur face. The timber varies a. good deal. On the h|ll«Mn« are ironbark. cna'iarlna, mpsmatp. stringy bark, and bioodwood : on the plnn^s beneath the hills are the swi»*l<»-stlck tree. Moreton Bay ash. ma hoepnv. acacia, coral tree. &c.: and on the flats hine and white gum. ancle, tea tree, and swamp oak. excepting where the land Is covered with a dpnse growth of smth. when n*»lm trees, giant ties, and quonflones, Lelchhardt trees, and vines and crePTters of nil sorts abound. On the. sardy ridr-*** near the coast wild plum trees, cherries, flars, cinchona, beefwood. snndaiwood. and dosrwood are plentiful. To the north and north-west of Yeppoon. good agricultural land extend* for a dis tance of several mllps along the spurs of the coast range, and several thousands of n^rps of good farming land which are at present used only for grazing pur poses will doubtlpss before long be brought under cultivation. The road from Yeppoon to the planta tion run« along the beach .lu3t at the foot of the cliffs, a little above high tide mark, for about a mile, and then turns off through a luxuriant troDlcal scrub, whence it emerges into canefMds belong ing to growers of cane on the Yeppoon Plantation. The road Is level, and is metalled and kept In a good state of ren«ir. The land which is now under cultivation with suerarcane was originally a portion of the Woodlands Estate, and sugar-growing was first started in the district by the proprietor. Mr. W. Broome. in 1882, when, under the direction of Messrs. W. Robertson and E. liong, of Mackay, a site was fixed upon for an experimental patch of cane, and a few acres were planted by Mr. Broome with several varieties of cane which were con sidered most suitable for the soil and elirnate. The result was so favourable that in the following ypar he was able to float a limited liability comoany to carry on the concern, taking payment for the land in half paid-up sharps. Tbp capital of the company was£2o.ooo in 4000 shares of £5 each, and such faith was placed In the venture that In less than two months the whole of the shares were taken tin, and In 1883 Mr. Krtmund de la Rup Mplhui«h, lato manager of the River Estate. Mackay. waa appointed manager, and Mr. E. P. Llvermore. of Rockhamp ton. one of the largest shareholders, chairman of directors, and operations wer« commenced. Soon after this It was decided to double the canitnl of the com pany, and some two hundred shares of the npw Issue were taken up. and in the following year Mr. Broome proceeded to London with the intention of disposing of the balance. The depression in sugar had. however, begun to set In. and it was found Impossible to get the shares taken up. the total number sold being only eight hundred of the fresh issue, leaving a deficiency of £16.000 unsubscribed. In the meantime the machinery ordered from Glasgow was arriving on the ground, and. as the crop promised well, the comnany obtained an advance of £16.000 from the Bank of New South Wales agalnft the new Issue of shares.
several of the principal shareholders be coming bondsmen for the amount. Mr. Melhuish worked hard, and by the winter of 1885 the mill was ready for work, and a hundred acres of cane ripe for crushing. This gave a yield of slight ly over 200 tons of sugar, about half of which was made into first whites, the balance into counter and lower grade sugars. In the following year 200 acres of cane produced 320 tons of sugar, but unfortunately Mr. Melhuish's health broke down during the crushing, and he was compelled to tender his resigna tion of the management, leaving, how ever, a good crop corning on for 1887, in which year a return of 520 tons of sugar was taken off 300 acres of land. Mr. H. Ross, of the Cedars, Mackay, succeeded Mr. Melhuish as manager, a position which he held till the middle of 1889. The yield for 1888 was 330 tons of sugar from 350 acres of land, that for 1889 only 160 tons from 240 acres, the wet season not commencing until March having given a poor and late growth to the cane. This exceptionally bad year and other causes brought about the collapse of the com pany, and under pressure from the bank the guarantors took possession and worked the property themselves, the 1890 crushing giving a yield of 390 tons of sugar from 420 acres. In June, 1889, the property, on which over £40,000 had now been expended, was put up to auction, and purchased by two of the principal shareholders, Messrs. E. P. Llvermore and Q. Tuson, both Rock hampton gentlemen, to whom the pro perty still belongs, for the sum of £10,000. After the sale, Mr. J. Highet took charge of the plantation until March, 1891, when Mr. Rutherford Armstrong was ap pointed to the position of manager, and it is owing to his energy and persever ance and a thorough system of cultiva tion, coupled with the judicious expendi ture of several thousands of pounds, that the plantation has since trebled its out put, the area of cultivated land has in creased, scrubs have been cleared, the water supply enlarged, double crushing, triple effet, and numerous other Improve ments added to the machinery, and a number of hard-working farmers settled on the land growing cane for the mill- It may be added that the present pro prietors have spent fully £20,000 more on the property since they purchased It. and up to the end of 1894 they had ab solutely no return whatever, all the pro fits having been swallowed up in work ing expenses and Improvements. Ap parently they are now about to reap the benefit of their pluck and perseverance in going on with the venture under most disadvantageous circumstances. The situation of the plantation is one of the prettiest and most pleasant that can well be imagined, being close to the sea. and commanding from the high ground a splendid view of the Keppel Islands and the coast towards Port Bowen, with the Pacific Ocean stretch- Ing far away to the eastward, on which mail steamers and coasting boats may frequently be seen passing. The manager's house is situated on slightly rising ground immediately above and overlooking the mill yard. There is a well-kept garden both of flowers and fruit trees, and a first rate tennis lawn, which receives a good deal of attention from visitors, chiefly on Saturday after noons. The land consists partly of scrub and partly of forest soil, the latter being either dark red voldanlc or black allu vial. The scrub land is admirably adapted for cane-growing, the yield from some of it being as much as 60 tons of cane to the acre, the forest land giving from 15 to 30 tons. The rainfall for the past ten years shows an average of 67in. annually, fluctuating between 961n. and 39in. Prior to 1891 the cane to supply the Yeppoon sugar mill was grown almost entirely by plantation labour, only two or three settlers growing cane on their own account, which was paid for at the mill according to the number of gallons of Juice yielded, and the density, a system which has since been found too trouble some to be continued. Now a large number of settlers have taken up cane growing for the mill, several renting areas of from twenty to thirty acres each from the plantation, paying a yearly rental of £1 per acre, or, if they prefer doing so, a royalty of la. per ton for every ton of cane delivered at the weigh bridge. The price paid by the pro prietors Is 12s. per ton of cane delivered on the weighbridge at the mill, which price appears to be giving a satisfactory return to the growers, while it should also leave a fair margin of profit for the mill. THE MILL is a fine large building constructed of hardwood and Iron, with brick and con crete foundations, 350 ft. In length and 45ft. wide. It is surmounted by a mas sive brick stack over 100 ft. in height, which stands immediately over three furnaces which generate the steam for the sugar factory. At present the cane Is all carted to the mill on drays, each capable of carrying up to three tons, but It Is expected that before long a tramway will be constructed to the mill, which will considerably decrease the expense and labour of carrying, and still more the heavy cartage of the sugar to the railway station at Tanby. At present each sugar waggon carries a load of 5 to 6 tons weight of sugar, requir ing sixteen horses to draw It, and even then at one or two steep pinches on the road between Yeppoon and Tanby the teams have to " double bank." When the railway reaches the township and the latter is connected with the sugar mill by a tram line, it is calculated that one horse-power only will be requisite to take a load of 10 tons weight to the rail way station, the road between the mill and the township being nearly a dead level all the way. Such a tram line would also be utilised for the purpose of carrying back cane to the mill from Tanby. Mulambin, Taranganba, and the
land immediately round the township, which will doubtless be planted with oane as soon as the railway to Yeppoon is an accomplished fact. On arrival at the mill yard each dray, the weight of which empty has been pre viously ascertained, whether belonging to the plantation or to farmers, is taken to the weighbridge, where the net weight of the cane is recorded, and the dray then going over to the cane-carrier, the cane is tipped alongside it. Several Kanakas under a white "super" place the cane evenly on the carrier as it moves slowly along, and It is then drawn into the mill. The first operation which the cane under goes is passing beneath a set of rapidly revolving knives, which shred it into small slices before it passes through the first set of rollers. The rollers are 4Sln. and 64in. respectively by 26in. in dia meter. After passing through the first set of rollers the cane, now squeezed into a kind of stringy pulp, is flrst spray ed with jets of boding water in which lime has previously been infused, then falls into a bath or trough, whence it is drawn by a second carrier over a series of steam Jets, which scald it thoroughly on its way to the second mill or set of rollers. Here it is again crushed, and nearly the whole of the sugar remaining in it is extracted. The mega»s or debris of the cane, now thoroughly dry, is car ried by an elevator ddrect to the megass loft, whence It is fed through hoppers into the furnaces as required. The juice from both mills, the former with a density of lO^deg. Baume and the latter from 3deg. to 4deg., is now mixed together, and passes through an automatic juice screen, where it is again limed, and pumped up into a heating tank on a stage some 30ft. above the rollers. Here the temperature in raised to almost boiling point by the exhaust steam from the engines, and the juice next flows into the clariflers, four in number, each holding 600 gallons of juice. In the chtriflers the juice is boiled, skimmed, and clarified, and receives its final treatment of lime, and is then run off into the subsiders, and thence, when settled, to the triple effet, where it Jf« boiled from a density of sdeg. to 30deg. The skimmings from the clarifiers and the subsidence in the subsiders under neath are run into scum tanks and blown up by steam, all the clear liquor from them being sent back to the subsiders. while the more solid refuse is passed through two twenty-four-leaved filter presses, from which all the juice comes away clear, the refuse being left in the form of a cake. The triple effet is cap able of treating 2000 gallons of juice per hour, a fair average. From the triple effet the juice, now in a highly concen trated form, passes to the vacuum pan. where it is boiled to a hard grain. The vacuum pan is capable of discharging five tons and a half of sugar at one stroke. The length of time required for boiling is from five to six hours. The boiling of the vacuum pan has to be carefully watched by the sugar boiler, and the contents tested from time to time, by a metal implement something of the nature of a syringe, made for the purpose, to see at what stage of granu lation the sugar is. The vacuum pan contains a coll of piping, through which a current of cold water is perpetually passing from a tank containing some 15,000 gallons of water, erected on a plat form outside the mill and above the vacuum pan stage, into which the water is pumped from the wells. This enables the liquor to boll In vacuo at a lower tem perature. Discharged from the vacuum pan, the masse cuite, as the mixture Is now called. Is run off Into a hopper over the centrifugals, whence it 4s dis charged through valves Into the ma chines as required. The dry sugar is here separated from the molasses by cen trifugal force. The baskets or vessels into which the sugar and molasses are run contain an inner casing of finely perforated metallic gauze, and .revolve at a speed of fifteen to sixteen hundred revolutions per minute, the force caus ing all the molasses to be expelled through the prauze, leaving the dry sugar adhering to the sides, where the molasses has passed out. It is a very pretty sight <to see the; dark mixture as the basket begins to revolve gradually cHmb lng the sides, and then fast becoming white and whiter a' the speed Increases and the molasses leaves the sugar. As soon as the latter is sufficiently dry each machine is stopped in turn, opened at the bf";om, and the contents dropped into a hand-barrow underneath, from which it is deposited In a hopper along side, whence it is drawn up automatic ally by an endless chain elevator to a stage above, when it falls through a shoot direct into bags, so placed on a weighing machine that as each bag re ceives its complement of sugar (2cwt.) the supply is shut off till the next bag is In its place ready to be filled. The centrifugals consist of four metallic baskets, each containing about lewt. of dried sugar when ready to be discharged. The molasses separated from the sugar by this centrifugal process is pumped into tanks, and then sent back to the vacuum pan, then run into coolers, where it stands for a month, when It is again run out through valves in the bottom into a hopper on a tramcart, whence it is emptied into a mixer over the centrifugals, and the second sugars dried in the same way as the flrst. The molasses from the second sugars is again boiled in the vacuum pan, and the result left standing for five or six months, when a third sugar is taken from it, in the same manner as the others. The remaining molasses is then sold, used for horse feed, or spread over the land by way of manure. The sugar Is bagged in 2cwt. bags, and sent by team and train to the wharf at Rock hampton, and shipped by steamer to the Colonial Sugar Company's refinery in Brisbane.
The whole of the machinery is under the immediate supervision of the engi neer. Mr. P. Cochrane, while the sugar department Is presided over by Mr. E. Baker, an experienced sugar boiler. The field operations and the general outdoor management of the plantation are super- Intended by Mr. B. Haverfleld. The water supply, which has proved ample for the present crop, was at first a rather serious matter. When the mill "was erected a deep well was sunk by contract close to the site of the mill. When down over 50ft. it collapsed one night, owing to the contractors having taken It to too great a deDtfh without casing, so they had unfortunately to sink another close by. this time taking care to brick it as It -was sunk, which was done by hulMlne a circular brick wall nn a s»tag<\ which descended a« thp w*»1l wpc deenened. Thp flnnth of +v»<s well is 74ft.. and a deen-woli pnmn fp|a<Mn fiji<s wnff to the surf" cp. Thp h'-ick* u«pd In th*> well, an well as tho«p of which the chimnpv *t«ck is com nosed. wore all mode on the ground. Thp Runplv from thfa wpII bplng Insnffl dpnt. a wcond w<>s sunk on a fla.t. about a ouarter of a milp from rhe mill, whence the water Is drawn by rhe vacuum pan engine, and by a siohon. Into th» d»pp well at the m'll. A third well. 40ft. dpen. sunnlies the kitchen and n>»n's nnaTtp™» with water, while a fourth yields sufflden't water for the boiler? at s» denfh of only a few f»et. a never-failing f»nrinr near tbp stahl»g sunnlvinnr water for thp drmieht stock a.nd other T>urpos»p«». To sirnnlement this «un>nly Mr. Armstrongl h»«» m»i*p a. larire dam. can»Wp of hoidlne ?.ROO.OOO g»llonp. over which la a wafpr-towpr for cooling the hot w«»ter as It flown from the mill. This tnnw con«H«ts of a spries of stages of hnmh-woort. one ovar the other, to a hot eh t of about 40ft... and thp ihot wa*pr botnar nurnDPd uti to rhe highest stagp. fall* fror" jttup'o to stq^rp. snraylnig aa 1+ fills, and reaching thp dani comp<<rati'"o'v coo!. Tt i« ar^uslne to spp t*«p wild «I'ick«. shasrn. and other wat«>r Mrds which congregate on thif> flam, whprp. npedless to s"v. they are not allowed to be »hot •>♦. The Wrfls become niilte ta'tne, and one mi»v walk among «corp«« of them without 'Ilsturbing thpm. though on any oth«r Ing^on or waterhole they would be wild The hollers are three in number. *ach nf 100 horse-nower. Two of them w*>r P Imported, and the third came from thp local foundry of Mef^ns. Burns an* Twlgg, this latter belns con'lderpd oulte poiifll to the others, and the cost was about the same. The density of the .tiiice durinar the nrp*»pn-t season averaged 10^deg. Baump. THK PLANTATION. The yield of cane per ax»re all round, both on scrub and forest land. Including nlant cane and first and second ratoons. was 21 tons per acre. Tv«» area of canp cut this year was 650 acrpw. and 14.055 tons of cane were nut tfhrouarh thp rnlll between the 29th Jniv t*n 29tfh November, giving a ylpld of T6OO tons of sugar. Thp plantation glve« employment to about one hundred and twenty Kanakas, and dlrectlv and indlrectlv to twice that number of white men. Only ten plantation tenants delivered cane a* the mill this season, the area cut belne 230 acre?, while 420 acres were worked by plantation labour, some further canp being sunplled by farmers from their own land, or land leaned from owners other than the plantation. The number of farmers for the 1896 cron will be twenty probably, farming 430 acres of cane, the plantation itself farming 290 or 300 acres. The 1896 crop is expected to be rather larger than the present vear>. The total area of the plantation. Including grazing lands, Ac. is about 3600 acres, of which from 1000 to 1200 acres Is under cultivation or lying fal low to recoup. Numerous applications for farming areas are constantly being received, and new farmers are fre quently settling down to grow sugar cane. In addition to settlers on lands leased from the proprietors of the plan tation, a number of farmers have pur chased or leased land from Mr. Broome on the Woodlands Estate. In some cases they have bought the land out right at from £2 to £4 per acre. In others they have purchased on terms : In some instances tihe land is rented at about 3s. per acre per annum, while one or two have taken land on an improving lease, paying no rent, but having tho option of purchase, provided certain improvements are put on the ground. The areas farmed under these condi tions vary from 20 or 30 acres to 150 acres, and one and all appear to be doing well and prospering, their princi pal revenue being derived from the return from their caneflelds, while these are supplemented by maize, chaff. potatoes, vegetables of various descrip tions, poultry, and dairy produce, fruit, &c, all of which are produced In large quantities. The thriving and prosperous popula tion and numbers of healthy-looking children to be seen in the neighbour hood of Yeppoon give the lie direct to those who assert that the Central Queensland climate is unlit for a white man to live In. COFFEE. One can not leave the subject of agri culture In this district without drawing attention to the Increased production of coffee, several acres of which are now in full bearing at the Byfleld Coffee Plantation, some twenty miles to the north of Yeppoon. This plantation was started under tremendous difficulties by a number of Russian-Swiss settlers, under the leadership of the late Bishop Bugnion. Foremost among these it M,
SUGAJt-GROWING IN CENTRAL QEKKNSLAND,
Louis Melllaud, who now owns some four or five acres of coffee shrubs Just coming Into full bearing. The berries find a ready market at from Is. 3d. to Is. 6d. per lb., and really make excellent coffee. There Is no doubt that at the present time both the sugar and the coffee growing Industries In the Yep poon district wear a most promising appearance.