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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 2

I Technology Transported; 1788-1840

II Technology Established; 1840-1940
i Meat Preserving: Heat Processing Introduced
ii Horticultural Products: Heat, Sugar and Solar Drying
iii Refrigeration and the Export of Meat
iv Milling and Baking
v Dairy Products
vi Beverages
vii Sugar: Supplying an Ingredient

III The Coming Of Science

IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years

V Products And Processes

VI Conclusion

VII Acknowledgements



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Sugar: Supplying an Ingredient [108]

Sugar is marketed as a very pure chemical recovered from natural raw materials. Its production is a complex vertically integrated industry in its own right. The product is an important raw material for the food industry, and sugar technology cannot be divorced from food technology.

The sugar industry is inseparable from the growing of sugar cane and beet which is part of the history of Australian agriculture. Suffice it to say here that sugar cane was introduced to the Sydney Botanical Gardens in 1817 and that the crop was grown experimentally at Port Macquarie from 1823. There, T. A. Scott refined the first sugar produced in Australia. He made some 70 tons. The first continuing refinery was, however, that of the Australian Sugar Company established in Sydney in 1842 to refine raw sugar imported from the Philippines. It arose from the promotion in London in 1839 by Francis Kemble and W. K. Child of the Australian Sugar Company and it was the forerunner of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) which was formed on 1 January 1855 and continues today as CSR Limited. Its refinery was at Canterbury in the Sydney area and it concerned itself with by-products as well as with the sale of sugar.

John Buhot was the first to make granulated sugar in Queensland but the man who established the industry in the northern colony was Captain Louis Hope who began refining commercially at Redlands Bay in 1865. In 1867 there were six mills producing only 168 tons of sugar but by 1872-73, there were sixty-five mills producing 6,266 tons of sugar and 16,000 gallons of rum. In 1868 there were nine mills operating in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales with a total annual production of a mere 60 tons. In both Queensland and New South Wales experience was severely limited; agricultural and milling practices followed those in use in the West Indies at a much earlier date.

The crushing mill of the late sixties was horse-driven and the cane was fed one stick at a time between ironbark timber rollers. The juice so obtained was boiled in open pans and allowed to cool and crystallize over a week. The yield was about one ton of sugar from twenty tons of cane and many tiny mills simply crushed and delivered the juice by pipeline to central sugar boilers.

At that time financial uncertainties associated with the supply of raw sugar to his refineries led Edward Knox, the chief executive of CSR, to seek his own sources. So, in the late 1860s he took the bold step of bypassing the traditional plantation system of sugar growing to establish central mills which would be supplied with cane by independent farmers. He did this in northern New South Wales, first in 1869-70 on the Macleay and Clarence Rivers, and later in the valleys of the Tweed and Richmond.

The Condong Mill on the Tweed began in 1880 and the Broadwater Mill on the Richmond in 1881. The latter was described at the time as the most important sugar factory, not only in New South Wales but also in the whole of Australasia. It crushed 900 tons of cane per day and in one month produced as much sugar as the total Australian output of 1868. In 1876, E. W. Knox, Edward's son, who was in charge of the northern rivers mills, had visited the Caribbean to study sugar milling. He had seen the latest methods and on his return introduced 'double crushing' and other technological improvements. Double crushing began as a second pass of the crushed cane through the rollers and moved to a second set of rollers in series with the first. Further rolls, also in series, were added later. Thus, the new CSR mills of the early eighties were using the most modern technology.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Sugar Company; Colonial Sugar Refining Company (C.S.R.)

People in Bright Sparcs - Buhot, John; Child, W. K.; Hope, Captain Louis; Kemble, Francis; Knox, E. W.; Knox, Edward; Scott, T. A.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 109 - 110, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher