The Cedars Sugar Mill
1873 - 1886
The Cedars Mill ( source: The Jubilee of Mackay , 1912)
Maurice Hume Black bought 891 acres in 1871 and named it The Cedars for the thick grove of Mackay cedar growing there. In 1872 he had 51 acres planted with cane, and expected to double that the following year. He purchased, from Robert Towns in Townsville, a small mill and a still, but the distillery never operated. The mill had three small 21 inch rollers, and no carrier. Cane was carried by hand to a table in front of the rollers, where two women, one on each side, pushed the cane into the rollers. Crushing and boiling could not be carried out at the same time, due to a lack of steam, therefore crushing was done during the day and boiling at night.
Black lived on the plantation at the beginning, but later moved to the coast, where Black's Beach bears his name. He had an elementary tramway system to haul some of his cane to the mill, although drays were also used. 3 inch by 2 inch hardwood rails were laid on sleepers made of Mackay cedar, and horses then hauled two or three trucks along them. A fire in 1885 severely damaged this tramway.
The Cedars was relatively successful, for a small mill, however in 1885, the A.J.S. bank decided to foreclose even though it had been a good year for the plantation. The cane from the plantation was then crushed at the River Estate North juice mill to the south of the Cedars.
K.W. (1983). In Their Own Hands. Farleigh, QLD: Farleigh Co-op Milling
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