Ashburton Sugar Mill

1883 - 1895

Ashburton Mill circa 1883 during construction. 
(picture courtesy of John Oxley Library, Brandon Collection no. 6298-0001-0025r. )

John Spiller formed Ashburton Plantation, which he named after the English town of that name on the Ashburn River in South Devon.  C.F. McKinnon & Company of Melbourne purchased Ashburton and also the adjoining Pioneer Estate and Mill, from Spiller in 1881 for 95,000.  The total area was 4800 acres.

A new mill was erected in 1883-1884 at the northern end of the estate.  The machinery was hauled from the wharves in River Street to the site by teams of 18 bullocks.  Sometimes two or three teams were needed to pull the heavy loads out of bogs and the trip could take up to 3 weeks.  The mill had 6 foot rollers and was one of the best crushing mills in the district.  The old Pioneer Mill was dismantled about 1886 and its 4 foot 6 inch rollers became Ashburton's No. 2 mill.

Not enough cane was able to be grown to fully utilize the mill, and together with the over-capitilization, this caused the mortgagees, the bank of Australasia, to foreclose in February 1889.  The machinery and erection of the mill had cost 40,000 and McKinnon & Co. had invested a total of 200,000.  Sir John Lawes bought Ashburton and the mill was eventually incorporated into Farleigh Mill in 1895.

One of the local farmers on whose land the mill was located still uses one of the old mill wells as a water supply.


Manning, K.W. (1983). In Their Own Hands. Farleigh, QLD: Farleigh Co-op Milling Association Ltd. p. 78-81.

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