After a quick briefing on safety in the sugar mill, we don our hard hats, safety glasses and collect some earplugs just in case the noise levels are a bit much. The tour begins, wonder if we will have a sugar high at the end of the tour the aromas are amazing.
The origin of Tully sugar dates back to the 1860s and 70s when a succession of pioneers first planted cane with labour forced Kanakas [South Sea Islanders] In 1884 this labour was prohibited and this coincided with a slump in prices. The Tully Mill was approved under the Sugar Works Act of 1922. The number of Tully cane growers who supplied the 1926-1927 was 256 of whom 74 were from the soldier's settlement farms. In later years migrants from European countries were welcome into the industry.[Italians making up the majority]
The effects of cyclone Larry in 2006, extreme flooding in 2008, record dry in 2009 crushing season, record wet 2010 crushing season and severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi in 2011 have had a dramatic financial impact on the industry. Average production in the five year period [2006-2010] was 1.8 million tonnes cane. The 2011 crop was the lowest yielding crop in over six years.
Tully Sugar Limited has been a central focus of many "Corporate plays" in the industry and is now 100 percent owned by COFOCO.
Cane is transported to the factory on a railway network consisting of some 280 km of 610 gauge track. The bin units have a normal capacity of 8-10 tonnes. Each bin has a consignment note from the grower. At the tippler it is weighed tipped into the hopper then weighed again. The net weight of the cane is allocated to the grower by the computer system.
Tully sugar has been exporting renewable green power for use by Queenslanders since 1997. The factory is virtually independent of external energy needs during the crushing season.Vast majority of what we see coming out of the chimney stacks is carbon dioxide and steam. The carbon dioxide is released when the bagasse is burnt. We were told by our tour guide that the lucky apprentices once a year get to climb to the top of the stack to hang the Christmas lights.
The sugar is transported by trucks to the bulk sugar terminal at Mourilyan Harbour All Tully sugar is exported and is widely recognised for its high and consistent quality. After an enjoyable tour off to lunch and then some shopping