Australia’s oldest sugar mill gets spoonful of new

A century-old sugar mill has received a modern update with the completion of an expansive warehouse by Ahrens.

Sitting on the banks of the Clarence River, the Sunshine Sugar Harwood mill and refinery is the oldest continuously operating sugar mill in Australia and has been crushing cane since 1874.

Ahrens helped the facility accommodate for the future with the design and construct of a 7,000m2 warehouse and dispatch/receival area.

Located on Harwood Island New South Wales, the facility’s design is truly unique due to the challenges of the highly reactive and unstable ground conditions as well as the site being in a flood basin.

Ahrens originally quoted for piers to be installed however, this would be an expensive activity so a more cost-effective solution was sought.

The site was instead pre-loaded with soil, which compacted for 12 months prior to the team starting on site.

Ahrens constructed a 4,800m2 warehouse used to store finished sugar products and a further 2,200m2 of dispatch and receival awnings to bring the total under-roof size to 7,000m2.

Works included a two-storey dispatch office with associated amenities within the warehouse and, separate drivers’ amenities including a lunchroom.

External works included 2,400m2 of asphalt and access roads that featured the safety design of a separate receival entry and dispatch exit with a common entry dispatch/receival exit driveway.

This feature ensured transport vehicles were able to have clear access to drive through for dispatch and receival.

A unique cost initiative feature of this project was the use of a tapered column design with the main beams fabricated as opposed to the use of rolled-steel beams.

The design also accounts for the conditions of the soil with the steel building built into the foundations and adjustable to allow for any potential uneven movement of the sub-grade.

The project was able to come together within 10 months despite the challenges the site presented.

Sunshine Sugar is a partnership between the grower-owned NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative and the Australian family-owned business, Manildra Group and is the only 100 per cent Australian owned producer of raw and refined sugar products.