Head to the sugar museum for a sweet taste of history
THE sugar industry has been a key economic driver for the Bundaberg region for 140 years and the story of its emergence as an industry and of the people who played integral roles in its development is now featured in a reinvigorated Sugar Museum located at Fairymead House in the Botanic Gardens.
The revamped museum was officially opened today by Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey.
"The story of sugar is basically the story of the sustained economic nourishment of the Bundaberg region by an iconic industry," said Cr Dempsey.
"So much of the region's development, employment and industry was born on the back of sugar cane production.
"Fairymead House was built in 1890 and was home to the Young family who are widely viewed as pioneering innovators of the Bundaberg sugar industry.
"This house, which was relocated to the Botanic Gardens in 1989, remains as a permanent connection to the sugar industry. It is only fitting that the entire downstairs section of the house be dedicated to the story of sugar production.
"It is probably a sad fact that many locals are at the same level as visitors to our region in their lack of understanding as to how the industry came into being.
"How do those sugar crystals end up in a bowl on the breakfast table?" said Cr Dempsey.
"The layout of the sugar museum puts everything into an appropriate timeline. Visitors enter the museum and commence their tour with a short movie - "Sweet Story of Sugar" in the museum theatrette.
"The tour covers everything from the involvement of forced South Sea Islander labour, the innovations that saw sugar cane harvesting transpose from manual cutting employing thousands of men to mechanical harvesters that improved the efficiencies demanded of a modern sugar industry."
Council's Tourism and Regional Growth portfolio spokesman Cr Greg Barnes said visitors would be totally engaged in learning of the methods involved in transporting cane from the field to the mill for juicing and its ultimate destination as refined sugar.
"The by products including Bundaberg's iconic beverage Bundaberg Rum, the manufacture of syrup and molasses and a look at the manner in which sugar makes it way to overseas markets as well as the shelves of local supermarkets are all part of this comprehensive display."
Cr Barnes said he believed the museum pays due respect to an industry and a product that has continued to play such an important role in the everyday lives of all residents of the Bundaberg Region.
Fairymead House and the Sugar Museum is open daily Sunday to Friday from 10.30am until noon. The facility is closed on Saturday.