Sign warning about cane trains, 2016

The sugar industry is an important industry in Australia valued at $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion per annum, much of which is generated through export. Requiring a hot climate and plenty of water, sugarcane is predominantly grown in Queensland with some in northern New South Wales. Over 4000 sugar cane farms produce 32-35 million tonnes of sugar cane each year, from which 4-4.5 million tonnes of raw sugar is extracted at sugarcane mills. At 2011, there were 24 sugar mills in Australia, ranging from Mossman in Queensland to Grafton in New South Wales. Mackay Region is known for its five locally owned mills. Altogether they produce enough sugar to support Central Queensland and Northern Queensland. They range from Racecourse Sugar Mill, Farleigh Mill, Marian Mill, Proserpine Mill and Sarina Sugar Shed.[1] Queensland's first industrial-scale sugar plantation commenced in Moreton Bay in 1864.[2]

List of operating sugar mills in Queensland

This is a list of the sugar cane mills in Queensland, ordered from north to south.

Sugar mills in Queensland
Photo Name Location Local government area Crush capacity
[million tonnes cane per year]
Notes Coordinates
Mossman Central Mill Mossman Shire of Douglas 0.85[3] Operated by Far Northern Milling. The Mossman central mill crushed about 640,000 tonnes of cane in 2022.[4] 16°27′31″S 145°22′42″E / 16.4586°S 145.3782°E / -16.4586; 145.3782 (Mossman Central Mill)
Mulgrave Sugar Mill Gordonvale Cairns Region 1.2[4] Mulgrave Sugar Mill commenced operations in 1896. It is operated by MSF Sugar, a subsidiary of the Mitr Phol Group.[5][6] 17°05′34″S 145°47′20″E / 17.0929°S 145.7889°E / -17.0929; 145.7889 (Mulgrave Sugar Mill)
Tableland Sugar Mill Arriga Shire of Mareeba 0.6[4] The mill is the newest in Australia having been opened in 1998 by Bundaberg Sugar. It is currently operated by MSF Sugar, a subsidiary of the Mitr Phol Group.[5][6] 17°07′11″S 145°20′43″E / 17.1197°S 145.3453°E / -17.1197; 145.3453 (Tableland Sugar Mill)
South Johnstone Sugar Mill South Johnstone Cassowary Coast Region 1.8[7] Operated by MSF Sugar, a subsidiary of the Mitr Phol Group.[5] 17°36′21″S 145°59′27″E / 17.6057°S 145.9909°E / -17.6057; 145.9909 (South Johnstone Sugar Mill)
Tully Sugar Mill Tully Cassowary Coast Region 2.5 Operated by Tully Sugar, a subsidiary of China Foods Limited.[8] 17°56′13″S 145°55′36″E / 17.9370°S 145.9267°E / -17.9370; 145.9267 (Tully Sugar Mill)
Macknade Sugar Mill Macknade Shire of Hinchinbrook 1.82[9] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. The Macknade mill crushes an average of 1.5 million tonnes of sugarcane a year, to manufacture about 191,000 tonnes of raw sugar.[10] 18°35′18″S 146°15′32″E / 18.5883°S 146.2589°E / -18.5883; 146.2589 (Macnade Sugar Mill)
Victoria Sugar Mill Victoria Plantation Shire of Hinchinbrook 3.74[9] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. The factory crushes an average of three million tonnes of sugarcane a year to manufacture about 400,000 tonnes of raw sugar, making it the largest mill in Australia. It is located about 3km east of Ingham. [10] 18°39′01″S 146°12′08″E / 18.6504°S 146.2023°E / -18.6504; 146.2023 (Victoria Sugar Mill)
Invicta Sugar Mill Giru Shire of Burdekin 3.67[9] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. The Invicta Sugar Mill produced 440,000 tonnes of raw sugar from about 3 Mt sugar cane in 2022.[10] It was located near the Kolan River in Bucca in the Bundaberg Region but was relocated to Giru in 1919 with the same name.[11][12] 19°31′01″S 147°06′21″E / 19.5169°S 147.1058°E / -19.5169; 147.1058 (Invicta Sugar Mill)
Kalamia Sugar Mill Brandon Shire of Burdekin 1.5[13] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. The Kalamia Sugar Mill produced 230,000 tonnes of raw sugar from about 1.5 Mt sugar cane in 2022.[10] 19°31′28″S 147°24′59″E / 19.5244°S 147.4163°E / -19.5244; 147.4163 (Kalamoa Sugar Mill)
Pioneer Sugar Mill Brandon Shire of Burdekin 2.16[9] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. The Pioneer Sugar Mill produced 260,000 tonnes of raw sugar from about 1.7 Mt sugar cane in 2022.[10] 19°33′29″S 147°19′52″E / 19.5581°S 147.3310°E / -19.5581; 147.3310 (Pioneer Sugar Mill)
Inkerman Sugar Mill Home Hill Shire of Burdekin 2.07[9][14] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. Maximum output 2.07 million tonnes in 2011.[9] In 2022, the Inkerman Sugar Mill produced 260,000 tonnes of raw sugar from about 1.7 Mt sugar cane.[10] 19°38′38″S 147°24′03″E / 19.6438°S 147.4007°E / -19.6438; 147.4007 (Inkerman Sugar Mill)
Proserpine Sugar Mill Proserpine Whitsunday Region 2.13[9] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. The mill crushes an average of 1.7 million tonnes of sugarcane a year, to manufacture about 240,000 tonnes of sugar. [10] 20°23′55″S 148°34′49″E / 20.3986°S 148.5802°E / -20.3986; 148.5802 (Proserpine Sugar Mill)
Farleigh Sugar Mill Farleigh Mackay Region 1.7[15] Owned by Mackay Sugar Limited (MSL). 21°05′59″S 149°06′01″E / 21.0996°S 149.1004°E / -21.0996; 149.1004 (Fairleigh Sugar Mill)
Marian Sugar Mill Marian Mackay Region 2.60[15] Owned by Mackay Sugar Limited (MSL). 21°08′42″S 148°56′19″E / 21.1449°S 148.9385°E / -21.1449; 148.9385 (Marian Sugar Mill)
Racecourse Sugar Mill Racecourse Mackay Region 1.70[15] Owned by Mackay Sugar Limited (MSL). Sugar refining for MSL is mainly done at the Racecourse location, where MSL operates a refinery together with a partner. It produces about 400,000 tonnes of refined white sugar annually sold under the CSR label. [16] 21°09′50″S 149°08′05″E / 21.1640°S 149.1348°E / -21.1640; 149.1348 (Racecourse Sugar Mill)
Plane Creek Sugar Mill Sarina Mackay Region 1.76[9] Operated by Wilmar Sugar Australia. It crushes an average of 1.2 million tonnes of sugarcane a year, to manufacture about 180,000 tonnes of raw sugar.[10] 21°25′40″S 149°12′57″E / 21.4278°S 149.2159°E / -21.4278; 149.2159 (Plane Creek Sugar Mill)
Millaquin Sugar Mill Bundaberg North Bundaberg Region 1.1[17] Operated by Bundaberg Sugar.[18] Millaquin Mill has an annual crushing capacity of 1.1 million tonnes of cane and produces more than 175,000 tonnes of raw sugar per crushing season.[17] 24°51′33″S 152°21′10″E / 24.8591°S 152.3528°E / -24.8591; 152.3528 (Millaquin sugar mill)
Isis Central Sugar Mill Isis Central Bundaberg Region 1.5[19] The mill commenced operation in 1879 and remains a locally owned company.[20][21] The Mill processes 1,505,400 tonnes of cane for the production of 223,874 tonnes of raw sugar.[19] 25°11′43″S 152°12′32″E / 25.1954°S 152.2088°E / -25.1954; 152.2088 (Isis Central Sugar Mill)
Rocky Point Sugar Mill Steiglitz & Woongoolba City of Gold Coast 0.435 Established in 1879, Rocky Point Mill is the only privately owned mill in Australia, operated by the Heck family over 5 generations.[22][23] 27°44′07″S 153°19′36″E / 27.7352°S 153.3267°E / -27.7352; 153.3267 (Rocky Point Sugar Mill)

The sugar mills in northern New South Wales are located in Broadwater, Condong, and Harwood Island.[24]

Former sugar mills in Queensland

Poor roads and limited transport options meant that there were once many local sugar mills in Queensland. With improved transport options, many of these smaller mills closed and only the larger more economic mills remain. This list is likely to be incomplete as many mills were small and operated only for a short period leaving few records. They are ordered from north to south, although in some cases the location is not known very accurately.

Former sugar mills in Queensland
Name Location Local government area Crush capacity
[million tonnes cane per year]
Notes Coordinates

(may be approximate)

Maryborough Sugar Mill Maryborough Fraser Coast Region 0.8[5] Operated by MSF Sugar, a subsidiary of the Mitr Phol Group. The mill crushes 0.7-0.8 million tonnes per year.[25] 25°32′52″S 152°43′02″E / 25.5479°S 152.7172°E / -25.5479; 152.7172 (Maryborough Sugar Mill)
Pleystowe Sugar Mill Pleystowe Mackay Region No longer operational as a mill but used by Mackay Sugar for shared services in support of its other mills.[26] 21°08′35″S 149°02′21″E / 21.1430°S 149.0392°E / -21.1430; 149.0392 (Pleystowe Sugar Mill)
Bingera Sugar Mill South Kolan Bundaberg Region Operated by Bundaberg Sugar[18] 24°55′44″S 152°11′59″E / 24.9290°S 152.1998°E / -24.9290; 152.1998 (Bingera sugar mill)
Bloomfield River Sugar Mill near Ayton Shire of Cook crushed 1884–1889[27][28] 15°52′52″S 145°20′20″E / 15.881°S 145.339°E / -15.881; 145.339 (Bloomfield River Sugar Mill)

(approx)

Hop Wah Pioneer Sugar Mill Mulgrave Road, Woree[29] Cairns Region First sugar mill in North Queensland, opened in August 1881, and initially owned and operated by the Hop Wah Company of Chinese investors and managed by Andrew Leon[30]
Hambledon Sugar Mill Mill Road, Edmonton Cairns Region 1883–1991[31] 17°01′16″S 145°44′02″E / 17.021°S 145.734°E / -17.021; 145.734 (Hambledon Sugar Mill)

(approx)

Babinda Central Sugar Mill Babinda Cairns Region 1915–2011[32] 17°20′24″S 145°55′30″E / 17.340°S 145.925°E / -17.340; 145.925
Goondi Sugar Mill Goondi Cassowary Coast Region Opened in 1883, probably located at the end of Goondi Mill Road near the Johnstone River. Closed in 1987 after being taken over by Bundaberg Sugar.[33] 17°30′32″S 146°00′07″E / 17.5089°S 146.0020°E / -17.5089; 146.0020 (Goondi Sugar Mill) (approx)
Mourilyan Sugar Mill Mill Street, Mourilyan Cassowary Coast Region Opened in 1883, it operated until it was damaged in Cyclone Larry in March 2006 (see photo). After the cyclone it operated intermittently and closed permanently later in 2006.[34] 17°34′48″S 146°02′01″E / 17.5799°S 146.0336°E / -17.5799; 146.0336 (Mourilyan Sugar Mill)
Gairloch Sugar Mill Ingham Shire of Hinchinbrook
Hamleigh Sugar Mill Ingham Shire of Hinchinbrook
Ripple Creek Sugar Mill Macknade Shire of Hinchinbrook [35]
Macknade Sugar Mill Ingham Shire of Hinchinbrook
Habana Sugar Mill Habana Mackay Region The Habana mill operated from 1883 to 1901.[36][37] 21°02′30″S 149°06′40″E / 21.0417°S 149.1111°E / -21.0417; 149.1111 (Habana Sugar Mill) (approx)
Richmond Sugar Mill Richmond Mackay Region 1881–1895[38] 21°04′54″S 149°08′45″E / 21.0816°S 149.1458°E / -21.0816; 149.1458 (Richmond Sugar Mill)
North Eton Sugar Mill Mill Street, North Eton Mackay Region Originally known as the Defiance, the North Eton Central Mill commenced crushing sugarcane in 1888.[39] It was the first sugar mill sponsored by the Queensland Government. In 1989, a number of sugar mills in the district merged to Mackay Sugar Limited, resulting in the closure of the North Eton mill.[40] 21°13′52″S 148°57′52″E / 21.2312°S 148.9645°E / -21.2312; 148.9645 (North Eton Sugar Mill)(approx)
Homebush Sugar Mill Homebush Mackay Region 1883–1922[41] 21°16′17″S 149°02′51″E / 21.2713°S 149.0475°E / -21.2713; 149.0475 (Homebush Sugar Mill) (Homebush)
Te Kowai Sugar Mill Mackay Mackay Region
Palms Sugar Mill Palms Mackay Region Palms was the last of the plantation mills in the Mackay district, closing in 1924.[36]
Cassada Sugar Mill Walkerston Mackay Region Operated from 1870 to 1886.[42] 21°10′22″S 149°04′16″E / 21.1727°S 149.0712°E / -21.1727; 149.0712 (Cassada Sugar Mill)
Palmyra Sugar Mill Palmyra Mackay Region Operated from 1883 to 1905.[43] 21°10′37″S 149°05′25″E / 21.1769°S 149.0903°E / -21.1769; 149.0903 (Palmyra Sugar Mill)
Alexandra Sugar Mill Alexandra Mackay Region Operated from 1868 to 1884. When originally constructed, it was the largest sugar mill in Queensland.[44] It was named after Princess Alexandra of Denmark who married Prince Edward (later King Edward VII) of Great Britain on 10 March 1863.[45]
River Estate Sugar Mills River Estate

(possibly Foulden)

Mackay Region There were three mills at River Estate: Old Sugar Mill (1873–1887), North Sugar Mill (1881–1886) and New Sugar Mill (1887–1891).[46]
Foulden Sugar Mill Foulden Mackay Region Operated from 1872 to 1887. It was on the northern bank of the Pioneer River.[47]
Balmoral Sugar Mill West Mackay Mackay Region Operated from 1873 to 1880.[48] 21°09′42″S 149°09′38″E / 21.1617°S 149.1605°E / -21.1617; 149.1605 (Balmoral Sugar Mill)
Meadowlands Sugar Mill Racecourse Mackay Region Operated from 1870 to 1914.[49] 21°09′35″S 149°08′37″E / 21.1596°S 149.1436°E / -21.1596; 149.1436 (Meadowlands Sugar Mill)
Cattle Creek Cooperative Sugar Mill Finch Hatton Mackay Region Commenced in 1906, closed in 1990.[50]
The Cedars Mill North Mackay Mackay Region Commenced in 1873, closed in 1886. Operated by Maurice Hume Black.[51]
Yeppoon Sugar Mill, (Farnborough Sugam Mill) Farnborough Shire of Livingstone Commenced in 1883, closed in 1903.[52][53][54]
Fairymead Sugar Mill Fairymead Bundaberg Region Opened 1884, closed in 2005[55][56]
Oakwood Sugar Mill Bundaberg Bundaberg Region
Doolbi Sugar Mill Doolbi Bundaberg Region
Pemberton Sugar Mill Bundaberg Region
Invicta Sugar Mill Bundaberg Region Originally located near the Kolan River in Bucca in the Bundaberg Region but relocated to Giru in 1919 where it is still now as the Invicta Sugar Mill.[11][12]
Qunaba Sugar Mill Bundaberg Region
North Isis Sugar Mill Bundaberg Region
Sharon Sugar Mill Bundaberg Region
Windermere Sugar Mill Windermere Bundaberg Region
Central Sugar Mill Yengarie Fraser Coast Region The ruins of this mill are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register.[57] 25°32′02″S 152°38′06″E / 25.534°S 152.635°E / -25.534; 152.635 (Central Sugar Mill Ruins)
Yengarie Sugar Refinery Yengarie Fraser Coast Region The ruins of this mill are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register.[58] 25°33′40″S 152°36′58″E / 25.5611°S 152.6162°E / -25.5611; 152.6162 (Yengarie Sugar Refinery Ruins)
Mount Bauple sugar mill Bauple Fraser Coast Region The Mount Bauple sugar mill was established in 1896;[59] it was the largest in the district. There were cane tramways to deliver the harvested sugarcane to the mill at 26 Mill Street.[60][61] The mill closed in 1951, as the sugarcane was then being sent to mills in Nambour and Maryborough.[62][63][64] The plans for the sugar mill are held at State Library of Queensland.[65] 25°49′03″S 152°37′16″E / 25.81739°S 152.62118°E / -25.81739; 152.62118 (Mount Bauple sugar mill (former))
Moreton Central Mill Nambour Sunshine Coast Region Closed in 2003
Oaklands Sugar Mill (also known as Whish's Sugar Mill) Morayfield City of Moreton Bay The mill operated between 1865 and 1872.[66] 27°05′47″S 152°58′28″E / 27.0963°S 152.9744°E / -27.0963; 152.9744 (Oaklands Sugar Mill)
St Helena Island City of Brisbane
Gibsons Clydesdale Sugar Mill Hemmant City of Brisbane Operated from the 1860s[67]
Cooperative Sugar Mill Murarrie City of Brisbane Commenced in 1872.[67]

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Further reading

Media related to Sugar mills in Queensland at Wikimedia Commons