The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Inc

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Tea with Sugar - March 2018

25 May 2018 1:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Madura Tea Estate, Northern NSW

Twenty eight people participated in this day activity. It was an early start, 7am due to daylight saving in NSW. Everyone was on time for the bus which made two pick-ups. One at Park Ave, Eagle Junction, the other at Nathan Park and Ride.

On arriving at Madura tea estate, we were guided to a garden and then on a tour of the factory: the estate covers 50 acres with 250,000 tea bushes. The tea plant is Camelia Sinensis with two varieties cultivated on the estate: the darker, Chinese, and the lighter, Indian. Michael Grant Cook started the estate back in 1978 and today there are 9 gardens. It is a suitable subtropical location with 1700mm of rainfall, gentle slope and acidic soil. There are solar panels for power supply, three dams, no irrigation or pesticides used. About 55 locals work at the plantation.

Tea production is a four-year process: April – May, the seed pods are collected and from these the seedlings are grown to 30cm then planted into the gardens. They grow for three years before harvest. The leaves are picked by a harvester every 12 -14 days between October - June. The leaves are delivered to the factory by truck and trailer. Each year, 500 bushes are replaced.

There are three kinds of tea: white, green and black. Once the leaves arrive at the factory, they are dried for green tea and oxidized and dried for black tea. In 2002 machines were imported from Italy to produce 446 tea bags per minute. Teas are blended with other varieties from Indonesia, PNG and Sri Lanka for flavour.

Lunch was at Tropical Fruit World where we had an alternate drop meal with their tropical fruit punch. It was a truly delightful location.

After lunch we met with Tim Zwemer, who hosted us around Robert Quirk’s sugar cane farm. He showed us ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the farm to showcase the new farming methods. They have trialled methods of applying fertilizer to the root and leaves to minimize the run off and prevent fish kills. Also, they have increased the yields per hectare. The Condong mill and farm have been accredited with the Bonsucro label which is the global standard for sustainable sugarcane production. It is awarded on environmental and social criteria.

We were fortunate that the rain held off till we were back in the bus. We left at 3pm as planned and were home on time. All told it was a very interesting, informative and enjoyable day.

By Jeanette Lamont, trip Coordinator.

The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland Inc
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