Plane Creek Sugar Mill
|Plane Creek Sugar Mill. circa 1910|
The Plane Creek area was first settled by Edmund Atherton and his brother-in-law Henry Bell in the early 1860's.
The Plane Creek Central Mill company Limited was established under the Sugar Works Guarantee Act in March 1894. The company was successfully floated with the nominal capital being 62,000 shares at £1 each. 28,000 acres of land was mortgaged by the shareholders to realise a £65,000 loan from the Queensland Government.
Articles of Association were drawn up for the company and included the following signatories:- Edmund and Richard Atherton, Henry Bell, Anton Jensen, Louis K. Langdon, Patrick McKenny and John C. Nicholson. The Secretary G. Beresford was witness.
A meeting in April 1895 selected Walkers from Maryborough to supply the mill machinery. The plant was to have two sets of five foot long rollers and a capacity of six thousand tons of sugar per season. Mill construction started under the supervision of G. Wolfe and J.B. Wood.
It was resolved to construct 15 miles of tramline extending from Plane Creek to the mouth of Louisa creek so the raw sugar could be exported. The Sarina inlet though closer was deemed too shallow. The wharf at Louisa Creek was 100 foot long and 26 feet wide at the head.
The first crushing commenced on 4 November 1896. The first crushing in 1896 realised 371 tons 14 cwt of raw sugar extracted from 3579 tons of cane.
The company early on had suffered the embarrassment of its cheques being dishonoured. This led to the appointment of Guarantor Directors to ensure the company could continue to trade.
By 1920 the final payment to the Queensland Government for the mill had been made.
For many years , molasses, a bi-product of producing sugar was regarded as a waste. 1925 saw the construction of the Plane Creek Power Alcohol Company plant next to the mill to process this product into ethenol. The Queensland Premier at the time, Edward Theodore , planned to invest in the production of alcohol to be used as motor fuel. The share holders in this company were the Plane Creek Central Mill and Australian Estates who were the principle shareholders in Pleystowe Mill. The company later became known as Australian National Power Alcohol.
The mill suffered for many years with problems of water supply. A weir was constructed in Plane Creek in 1926 to help conserve water. A second weir was constructed in 1935.
With the extension south of the North coast railway in the 1920's saw the expansion of cane lands south to flaggy Rock which enabled the cane to be transported by rail to the mill for processing.
In 1974 the mill was taken over by Pioneer Sugar Mills Limited. The mill was in turn taken over by C.S.R. Limited in 1987.
Patricia C. (1988). Sarina Shire in Retrospect, Sarina, QLD: Sarina
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