Just days after the Harwood sugar mill completed crushing for the season, a freak burst of wind snapped a power pole, setting a nearby cane field alight. The events that followed demonstrate just how caring and collaborative the people of the NSW sugar industry are.
Tuesday the 31st of October was a hot and smoky day, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.
Around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Clarence cane grower, Ross Farlow pulled his tractor up at his house to take a break and have a cup of tea. Finding out that the power was out, he settled for a glass of water. Little did he know, the power outage was caused by a fallen power pole on his own property.
Within moments, his phone rang. A local who was driving by noticed a fallen power pole and subsequent fire in a block of Ross’s sugarcane.
The next couple of hours were a blur for Ross as neighbouring farmers and friends gathered at the property to help contain this fire that was burning out of control across multiple cane fields.
When the fire unit arrived the team of experienced farmers directed them to where they were needed most, and by around 6.30pm the last of the fire was extinguished and an exhausted Ross Farlow was able to stop and take stock of what had just happened.
Thankful that no one was hurt during the ordeal, Ross was then confronted with the dilemma of what to do with the 30 acres of burnt cane and the nearest sugar mill closed for the year.
As it turned out, the whole time the fire was being fought, calls were being made to harvesting teams, cane haul transport and the Broadwater sugar mill to arrange for the burnt cane to be cut and crushed before that mill finished out the season.
These events can only be described as a true team effort and example of the community spirit that lies within the NSW sugar industry and the collaborative relationship that exists between the NSW cane growers and Sunshine Sugar.
The North Clarence Harvesting crews went to work very early on Wednesday morning to set up a harvester and organise transport of machinery to the property. They arrived on-site around 10.00am and were followed soon after by the first of 40 multi-lift cane bins.
By Thursday evening, some 1,500 tonnes of sugarcane were harvested and hauled to Broadwater sugar mill for crushing.
The events of 31st October 2023 are a great example of just how special the NSW sugar industry is. When an out-of-control fire burns over 30 acres of sugarcane along the Maclean-Yamba Road and not a single person is hurt and all of the crop is harvested, transported and crushed within days – it is thanks to the efforts of many within a close knit and caring sugar growing and manufacturing community.

[8 November 2023]