The sugar cane industry is a very important part of Mackay agriculture. The 1,600 farms in Mackay area are mostly predominantly owned and operated by families. These families supply 4 mills.
Sugar cane being harvested into trucks towed by tractors. The harvesting period is from late May to mid-November depending on the weather.
Burning the fields is mostly to eradicate rats and snakes before harvesting, these days green harvesting is the preferred method, to avoid losses due to wet weather and to reduce environmental impact.
It is quite a spectacular site to behold when a cane field is burning. I was privileged to see this on one of my trips through Mackay.
This is the green harvest method, with the harvest being loaded into a truck pulled by a tractor.
When the cane is cut green the leaf matter is discarded and used for mulching paddocks ready for planting the following years crop.
Once the trucks are full the tractors then transport the cane to the nearest rail siding to wait for the cane train to collect it and transport it to one of 4 mills in the region.
Here we see a locomotive fully laided with cane, crossing avia duct.
The rail network covers from Waroonga to Munbura and Finch Hatton. There are some 40 locomotives used in Mackay region, transporting 8,100 bins with a capacity of between 5 and 15 tonne.The largest of these carry a load of 180 6 tonne bins and reach upto 800 meters in length.
There are some 500 sidings like this located across the Mackay sugar region, not all a by the roadside. Some have a roll on roll off facility.
Mackay is a fascinating place to stop not only for its sugar industry but has some beautiful scenery also.
Please visit www.owenwilson.net.au to see more of these amazing images, of Mackay area.