Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
pioneered by bêche-de-mer fishers and cedar-cutters. During the second half of
the nineteenth century, bêche-de-mer was harvested from coral reefs in the Great
Barrier Reef, processed at small curing stations and exported to south-eastern
Asia. From 1874, timber-getters cut the forests of red cedar that were found on
the Queensland coast between Cardwell and Cooktown. By 1880, merchants
such as Burns, Philp and Company were trading in several tropical products,
including bêche-de-mer , timber and copra (Bolton, 1981). In addition to those
industries, gold mining took place at many locations, including the Palmer,
Hodgkinson, Charters Towers and Ravenswood goldfields; the discovery of gold
was responsible for the rapid growth of European settlements such as Cooktown
and Charters Towers. However, pastoralism remained crucial to the Queensland
economy throughout that period. From 1860-1900, the pastoral industry
prospered as virtually all land suitable for grazing was taken up in leases; growth
was also stimulated when frozen meat began to be exported to Britain during the
1870s (Bolton, 1981).
In addition to pastoralism, from the mid-1860s, agriculture became significant
for the economic development of Queensland. Early attempts at cotton cultivation
were short-lived; government subsidies for cotton farmers in the 1860s stimulated
agricultural expansion, and cotton exports were successful during the period of
the American Civil War, but the industry declined shortly afterwards. In contrast,
sugar cane cultivation was more successful: the initial expansion of sugar cane
cultivation, from 1864-1884, is shown in Figure 4.1(a). Sugar cane was first grown
in Queensland, in the mid-1860s, in the Maryborough, Brisbane and Beenleigh
districts, and rapid expansion took place in the sugar industry between the late
1860s and 1884 (Griggs, 1999b, 2011). By the 1880s, sugar cane farming had
become prominent in the Queensland economy and contributed to the growth of
the settlements at Mackay, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Geraldton (now Innisfail)
and Cairns. The production of sugar cane was made more economic by the use of
indentured Melanesian labourers; but, after 1884, a surplus of sugar derived from
European sugar beet on the world market and the opposition, by the Queensland
Government, to the recruitment and employment of Melanesian workers led to a
contraction in the Queensland sugar industry in the late 1880s. After 1892, when
the decision to restrict the use of indentured labourers had been reversed and the
world sugar price had increased, confidence was restored in the sugar industry.
By 1900, sugar production had exceeded the demands of the colony, although
an overall rapid expansion in the cultivated area of sugar cane continued to take
place, as Figure 4.1(a) shows, and exports of sugar commenced. Those increases
in sugar cane acreage and sugar yields were obtained as a result of the creation of
new sugar cane fields, the expansion of production on existing sugar cane land
and the increasing adoption of scientific methods in sugar cane farming. Griggs
(2003, 2004, 2007) has shown that the expansion of sugar cane land between
1865 and 1900 resulted in some severe environmental impacts, including the
complete deforestation of land to create farmland and the cutting of timber to
provide sugar mills with a source of fuel. Alongside those environmental changes,
Search WWH ::

Custom Search