Blog 179 Cairns 19th – 22nd Aug
The reason for our quick return to Cairns is Paul had promised us a trip around the sugar mill he works at and that was an offer we couldn’t refuse even Nick came over to join in.
Before the tour we had a brief idea in our heads on how sugar was made but that was blown completely away in the first ten minutes.
The place was huge right from the beginning where the cane trains were automatically loaded onto the conveyor belts, to the crushers all five of them, to the magma tanks and the loading of the dried sugar. There were many stages in between and some of photos may explain this.
We both thought that the cane was crushed to extract the juice and this was then dried to make sugar but there is a lot more to it than that.
The cane is crushed five times and washed in increasingly hot water to extract every last drop of juice. The impurities are removed and re used as organic fertiliser and then the cane syrup is sent to a huge tower called a pan where crystals are artificially added. The syrup forms its own crystals around these which are later separated.
The output from here is dark brown crystaline substance called Magma and it is stored in huge vats with heated stirrers continuously churning it to stop it setting.
From here the Magma drops into a huge centrifuge a bit like a giant washing machine.
The magma is spun up to an incredibly high speed which forces out the mollasses (which is sold separately) and leaves behind natural raw sugar.
The whole factory is huge and looks more like an oil rig then a sugar factory. The tour is accompanied by noise from the many machines, the sweet smell of mollasses and a sticky sugar film that covers most surfaces but despite all this it was thoroughly enjoyable.
We will never look at sugar in the same way again and we want to thank Paul for a fascinating insight into it’s process.
The town of Gordonvale comes alive each year on the weekend of the pyramid races which is this weekend. The ‘pyramid’ hill dominates the landscape around and the hardy few decide to run up and back to town in the heat of the day……the fastest has been around one and a quarter hours. There is a festival in town as well. Paul and I walk into town to enjoy all the events which include some log splitting competions and boy are they quick. There is a mechanical bucking bronco, a display of cars and bikes including one which makes our bike look positively normal and lots of stalls. We spend a while wandering around before seeing the first man and woman back down from the pryamid. We left Kev in the shed doing final adjustments tightening down the heads, re-jigging the exhaust pot cookers. Tomorrow is ‘Guzzis Are Go’ day, a run organised by Nick a while ago taking in some good biking roads.
The day dawned bright and sunny Nick gave us a scare ringing us to say he had a puncture but he fixed it in the nick of time and was able to join us along with the stig on a moto guzzi see picture below.
Our first stop was Etty bay a lovely secluded beach here we had an added surprise a Cassowary was strutting his stuff along the beach. It is a large prehistoric bird as tall as a man and fairly rare we had hoped to see one all the time we were up in the Daintree and here was one on the beach.
Our next stop was another beach this time with a bar. Kurrimine beach was badly affected by the cyclone and the tree lined beach was devastated we line the bikes up on the grass for a photo opportunity and Paul tells us last year you couldn’t see the beach through the trees, it still looks lovely to us.
We took a meandering route through Silkwood before ending up at the pub near Paronella Park where had lunch. It is the route we originally took from Ingham so we got to enjoy it again. Here we said goodbye to some of the riders who live on the tablelands before we headed though Millaa Millaa for the Gillies highway yet again, (any excuse).
When we got to the bottom of the Gillies Melissa from Channel 10 TV had the camera rolling for a news report. She was lovely and did a great job, we had to ride past the pub a few times and do an interview. You can see the video in the media section on the website I think you’ll agree she did us proud, thanks Melissa.
Our new friends were very patient and enjoyed a beer whilst waiting. Paul who put us up is the other TV star. We headed back to the shed for a well earned beer afterwards.
The pictures are the interesting mirror in the sheds toliet and me visiting the UK (upsidedown on Kev’s back stretcher machine which was good.)
Back to reality next day we headed into Cairns to get the underwater film developed (film anyone remember that !!) and to stock up for our trip to the red centre.
Next up our trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the Olgas and King’s Canyon.