In the meantime a very good friend from the UK, Mike S advised he was coming out to Australia with a fellow rail enthusiast Ken P. They would be visiting other parts of Australia before coming to Queensland and heading north to see the sugar cane railways.
Raymond and I decided to take holidays and go with them in a hire car so that we could show them around. We had a great time but we did not see as much as I had hoped as it was in November right at the end of the crushing season. Several mills finished their crush only a day or two before our arrival. Since my early trips visiting the sugar mills in the 1960s there have been many changes. Sugar mills have closed and instead of mile upon mile of sugar cane there are large areas of cane fields replaced by banana plantations and, of all things, timber plantations. The timber plantations have received very favourable tax incentives from the Federal Government persuading farmers to sign up for what is really a long term (years)investment compared with the annual seasonal income from sugar cane. The worst aspect I have found is that you can no longer walk into a mill loco shed for photography as the mills are now surrounded by security fences and you have to report to the office before entering the property. In many instances an approach to the office will not gain you entry as it is all too hard. You have to do a site safety induction and be accompanied by an employee who should be doing something else. Even standing on the boundary of the mill property to photograph trains entering or leaving you are under constant surveillance by security cameras or being approached by security guards to move on.
I will not bore you with the story of our trip but am including a selection of photos we took during the journey. Hopefully, there may be some modelling ideas for those of you into narrow gauge like Raymond and I are.
Isis Mill No.4 has reached the summit of Cordalba Hill and is now starting the descent on the double track section to the mill. No.4 was originally a Queensland Railways 3 ft 6 ins gauge diesel hydraulic shunting loco rebuilt and converted to 2 ft 0 ins gauge. 30/10/2008
WATTLE, an 0-6-0DH built by Commonwealth Engineering, Rocklea, Qld is heading another train load of cane to Bingera Mill in the Bundaberg region. 31/10/2008
Millaquin Mill locomotive shed with BURNETT a ComEng 0-6-0DH and two EM Baldwin bogie locos outside. 1/11/2008
ELLIOTT is a B-B DH built by Bundaberg Foundry under license to Hunlset Plc in the UK. Here, she is pulling a long rake of cane up the hill beside Langbecker's Road heading for Millaquin Mill. 1/11/2008
The Australian Sugar Cane Railway is located at North Bundaberg. It is an absolute must visit when they are running. Here an Orenstein & Koppel 0-4-0T and a Bundaberg Fowler stand outside the shed. 2/11/2008
RM16 was an inspection rail motor based in Rockhampton. It is now preserved in the foyer of Rockhampton railway station. 3/11/2008
D12 EMB B-B DH heads back to the Plane Creek Mill at Sairna from Turnor's Paddock near Koumala. 3/11/2008
We missed out seeing any of Mackay Sugar's locomotives at work as the crushing season had just ended. Here a large fleet of their diesel locomotives await their turn for the off-season overhaul at Racecourse Mill. 4/11/2008
Proserpine Mill's No.3 a Clyde 0-6-0DH Model DHI-71 has a long rake of cane on the Cannon Valley line. 5/11/2008
DELTA a ComEng 0-6-0DH heads past the cane siding McDesme No1 on the way back to Kalamia Mill at Ayr. 6/11/2008
A ComEng 0-6-0DH from Invicta Mill, Giru crosses a large bridge on the Milaroo line. The bigger bogie locos that normally worked out here could not cross this bridge due to flood damage. This location is about 100 km from the mill. 7/11/2008
HOMEBUSH a Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 preserved in working order at Victoria Mill, Ingham. 8/11/2008
MKD14 an EMBaldwin 0-6-0DH takes a train of raw sugar from Macknade Mill to Lucinda Point. 9/11/2008
The only John Fowler Patent Type (indirect drive) locomotive remaining in the world is at the Sugar Industry Museum, Mourilyan. 10/11/2008
Two ComEng 0-6-0DH locos in multiple unit cross the North Johnstone River heading for Babinda Mill. The old Bruce Highway to Cairns is in the foreground. 11/11/2008
The travellers stand beside Babinda Mill No.1. From left to right - Mike S, me, Raymond and Ken P. 11/11/2008
The Savannahlander a 2000 Class RM at Mareeba. Mike and Ken travelled on this from Cairns. We met them in Mareeba to head on up to Mossman. 12/11/2008
MOSSMAN a ComEng 0-6-0DH stands outside the Mossman Mill loco shed. The crushing season had finished the day before. 12/11/2008