Queensland Sugar Cane Railway Facts
Queensland's first 'locomotive worked' cane tramways were built in 1880. In 2005 there were over 4000 kilometres of cane railways in Queensland based around 21 sugar mills stretching from Mossman in the north to Maryborough in the south. These tramways transport some 36 million tonnes of sugar cane per crushing season (June thru to December).
All the mill tramways are of 2 feet (610mm) gauge, except Pioneer Mill, near Ayr, which has a 3 feet 6 inch (1067mm) gauge railway system the same as Queensland Rail. Queensland Rail also transports some sugar products, including raw sugar to nearby ports for shipping to Australian and overseas refineries.
Locomotives used in Queensland number the third highest of all railway systems in Australia and with 54,000 cane bins the cane railway systems collectively have more items of rolling stock than all other Australian railways combined.
The industry is currently undegoing a period of transition and consolidation with the drought and turmoil in world sugar prices. Two mills (Moreton in Nambour and Fairymead in Bundaberg) have recently closed and some farmers have left the industry.
The mills still operating (2018, some do not have tramway operations) are Tablelands, Mossman, Mulgrave, South Johnstone, Tully, Victoria, Macknade, Invicta, Pioneer, Kalamia, Inkerman, Proserpine, Farleigh, Marian, Pleystowe, Racecourse, Plane Creek, Millaquin, Bingera, Isis, Maryborough, and Rocky Point.
The Northern NSW mills still operating are in Broadwater, Condong and Harwood Island.
Updated from notes by
1978 Locomotive Lists Available Again
The 1978 listing of sugar industry locomotives, long out-of-print, is now available in electronic form. The PDF file is large (4.3 Mb), thus will be a long download.
Compiled by John Browning and David Mewes, Australian Sugar Industry Locomotives is an ANGRMS publication.
Extracts from the publication for individual mills, etc., are also available:
Site maintained by ANGRMS member Lynn Zelmer, e-mail: lynn @ zelmeroz.com. Page last updated 16 February 2019.