Cane Trains in Queensland

Two Foot Tonnage
Four thousand empties out and four thousand full cane bins in and the morning shift is just the start.

Bundy 5 at Nambour
By 2000 steam had long gone from the cane lines around Nambour but a steam loco did make a guest appearance. Bundaberg Fowler No. 5 is shown here hauling what it was built to do … bring the cane in from the farms to the mill.

It wasn’t all that long after this was filmed that the mill at Nambour was closed down and the interesting street running … in the middle of a busy town … was gone.

Steaming Through the Queensland Canefields
This video was shot between 1965 and 1970 and shows the last years of steam working on the cane railways in Queensland.

Tully Mill
Shot in 2017

Tully Mill
Shot in 2014

South Johnstone Mill
This mill is located near Innisfail, the video was recorded in June 2019

South Johnstone in 2014
Including street running through the village near the mill.

Inkerman Mill
Inkerman Mill is located close to Home Hill south of Townsville. Here we see it in 2019

Farleigh Mill
Located just north of Mackay in Queensland the Farleigh Mill operates an extensive network of cane lines … including a section with one of the steepest grades on an adhesion line anywhere in Australia and loads go up and down this grade

Pioneer Mill
The only 3’6″ gauge cane railway in Australia – seen here in 2019.

Giru’s Invicta Mill
The sugar cane harvest in Queensland isn’t about slow ambling trains on narrow gauge tracks … it’s about a major operation to get the cane into the mill as quickly as possible using the most effecient means possible.

That’s why you see concrete sleepers and heavy rails, radio control, locomotives in peak condition and 24 hour operation. When the harvesters are out in the cane fields these trains never stop.

The Harvest at Mossman Mill – 2016
The harvest in 2016 came at a time when the ownership of the mill had just changed hands so some locos are in the previous owner’s paint scheme while others managed to get through the paint shop just before the harvest began.

Tully Sugar Mill 2017
If there’s one thing for sure about the mills in Australia it’s the way they maintain their locomotives and even older diesels operate reliably during the harvest.

Mulgrave Mill 2015
Mulgrave Mill on the outskirts of Cairns is the mill that is the furthest north in Queensland.

Here is a glimpse at what operations were like in 2015

Bingera Mill 2015
This mill is one of three mills that are within easy drive of the town where I live and the railway associated with this mill is perhaps unique because, the line that reaches out to the west from the mill runs along what was once the roadbed for a QR branchline.

It even uses an old QR railway station at Wallaville for stores and crew amenities for the trains that bring in the cane to Wallaville where it is amalgamated into bigger trains for the run down to Bingera.

Bingera operates 24 hours a day in cane season and if you get a chance to listen in to the Mill’s despatcher radio you will quickly see that it’s all go go go to get the cane in.

Farleigh Mill 2015
Farleigh Mill is the last of what was once three large sugar mills in the North Queensland city of Mackay.

Like all the other mills, the cane lines around Farleigh are positively humming in cane season