Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sugar Cane Train Beanie and Scarf

I used to have one of those jobs where you travel a fair bit around the country. Probably one of my favourite parts is Tropical North Queensland. I spent some time doing a project in Innisfail, made famous in recent years by cyclone Larry. It is one of those lovely little country towns that oozes both character and history. To the South of Innisfail is Tully, and this is sugar cane country. When I was a kid we used to have a few acres of sugar cane growing down the back paddock. I remember the smell of the burn off, and the scurry of critters as the fire roared through. It all had a very distinctive smell. I also remember as a kid sucking on a bit of sugar cane. It was stringy and sweet. I haven't done that for years, but the smell and taste remains in my memory. These are things my kids will never have. The other thing they will never have is a mouth full of amalgam!

Because of the all the sugar we also have a few Rum distilleries as well. Beenleigh Rum and Bundaberg Rum or Bundy are probably the best known brands. A lot of the cane farms in South East Queensland have now been replaced by suburbia as land becomes more valuable. I heard recently that the old Rum Distillery at Beenleigh was going to be revamped as a DFO shopping centre. That is sure a sign of the times.

The other thing about sugar is that there are sugar cane farms scattered all up the coast of Queensland. This used to be the "Sunshine Route" and was one of those things that we had to remember in geography, was all the names of the towns from Brisbane to Cairns. the Sunlander was a passenger train that went from Brisbane to Cairns.

My husband was clearly a better scholar than me, as he can still rattle off all the towns. The Sunshine Route on the Sunlander was one of those trips that the retirees and Southerners do, particularly in Winter. It has become a bit classier now, and there is a Tilt train for a part of the journey.

Here is a link to the history of trains in Australia:

So I designed this little beanie and scarf based on the sugar cane trains. These are little trains that carry bins of cut cane from the farms to the sugar mill for processing. This is a remarkable network of little trains that connect the cane farms up the Queensland Coast. There is something like 4,000 km of track in the state which collects 37M tons of sugar cane each year.

Here is a link for the train enthusiasts:

When you drive up north you will see these little trains running along the highway. Some of them carry huge numbers of bins, and they add a distinctive flavour to the country side. I love to challenge myself to design things based on the local environment, and I enjoyed coming up with this design. Sugar cane trains in crochet, might sound a bit kitsch, but I think they are rather cute.

The scarf and beanie are a great use of scraps as the colours add a bit of visual pop. Thanks to my wonderful testers the pattern is now available at

So here is the bit of the Sunshine Route that I can remember: Brisbane, Gympie, Maryborough, Gladstone, Mackay...... what comes next???? Bowen, Townsville, Home Hill, Ayre, a few more and then Cairns. Any one know the Sunshine Route? I googled and couldn't find it. I dont think kids learn things that that anymore.

(c) crochetroo please do not copy.