Our next stop was recommended to us from the people we meet at the MSO stop. It was set on a cane farm and for $15 you received power and water. All the sites backed on to a canal giving us a lovely water view.
The farm didn’t have a lot of sites making it cosy. When we had set up camp we were told there would be a burn at night and if we wanted to, we could go. We were told we would need to be dressed in long sleeves and pants with closed in shoes. No problem, we were so there.
They will generally burn the sugarcane at night then harvest the next day, only burn what they can harvest. The farmer told us the lot he was burning would bring in about 85 tonnes of sugar. The price for sugar is slowly going down as the demand is slowly reducing. The average farm in the area is under the 200-acre mark. I was surprised when I heard that. Coming from a wheat farming area 200 acres would probably make a small padlock with the farms in my area being about 10 to 20 thousand acres. Almost all the sugar that is produced in the area goes overseas. We had been told the same thing when we went to the sugar factory in Tully. We probably send our sugar overseas then buy it all back again.
We all piled into cars to head off to the burning. Adrian went in one car and I in another one to cut down on cars driving around the farm at night. It was almost dark by the time we left. We saw the smoke coming from other farm as we drove along. I don’t know about anyone else but I was getting excited.
We were given a quick safety talk before anything happened. We were warned that sometimes things might run out of the fire, like snakes so we had to keep a watchout. Great.
The local fire brigade was there to help. As part of the safety talk we were told no one burns their fields on their own and neighbours help neighbours. It makes sense and you don’t want your next-door neighbour burning your field by mistake.
The field had been prepared early on in the day with firebreaks made to separate the different sections.
We were all told to stand back while the fire was lit. The man walked along the edge of the cane, lighting it as he walked. It only took seconds for the fire to take hold and to become a wall of flames.
As the flames moved though the field we changed our location to the other side. Greeting the flames as they arrived.
I had been told about the noise of the fire being loud but the crackling was almost deafening. The heat was engulfing for a moment as the fire quickly passed by. We were told by one of the fire wardens that “a sugarcane fire was nothing like a real fire. They could almost control a sugarcane fire and it was unusual to have one escape. A normal fire, well that had a life of it’s own and you never knew what it would do. Dangerous things.”
I think the flames and the embers dancing in the heat of the blazes mesmerised us all. We all stood and just watched the fire. It didn’t take long before it was all over and the flames shrunken to almost nothing then disappearing altogether.
The farm had a lovely feel to the place. Chickens walled around the vans and the farm dogs kept on coming to say ‘hi’. We were warned to double-check our cars and vans before leaving as the dog like to go for a ride. He jumped into a van once and the owner had to bring him back. They were not happy as they were about 200ks away before he came out of hiding. Most of the times he has just ended up in the local town or the next-door neighbours’ farm.
There was happy hour every night and local veggie farmers would often bring unusable products in for the guests. They would be placed on the table and were free to anyone. When we saw the veggies we asked what was wrong with them, as they looked ok to me. They were all seconds and would be given as feed to the stock or ploughed back into the ground. What a waste. We grabbed what we though we would use. There were rockmelons and honeydew melons as well as butternut pumpkins. Along the river at the back of our van there were some tomato bushes with tiny tomatoes. We were told to go pick as many as we wanted. Adrian picked a container full. We left there with a very full fridge. I almost wonted to stay longer to see what else would appear on the table.