100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

100% Locally Owned, Independent and Free

Could distillery launch a new future for our cane farms?

Do you have a news tip? Click here to send to our news team.

New building doubles city centre’s residential capacity

The Maroochydore city centre will soon be home to about 300 more residents, after the opening of a two-tower development. The Corso Residential Apartments, by More

Group calls for mass changes at camping hotspot

A group of government, tourism and environment representatives has called for widespread changes to improve management of a booming camping destination. The Teewah and Cooloola More

New boardwalk opens along Coastal Pathway

A 160m section of beachfront boardwalk has opened to the public after nine months of construction. The Caloundra Headland boardwalk, near Kings Beach, has replaced More

Boy, 11, dies after collision between bike and bus

An 11-year-old boy has died following a bus crash in Buderim this afternoon. Preliminary inquiries indicate a bus was travelling along Jingellic Drive near Karawatha More

Ultimate field trip inspires students to consider further study

Two Sunshine Coast Year 12 students have seen where tertiary education can take them during the field trip of their lives, thanks to the More

Glamping retreat and century-old homestead for sale

A 20-hectare property with glamping sites and a 100-year-old homestead has hit the market. Kanimbia estate, at 27 Innalls Road at Obi Obi, has attracted More

Sugarcane is being planted on a Sunshine Coast farm for the first time in 20 years as members of a local family pioneer a new future for the crop in the region.

The cane planted on the Cook family land at Pacific Paradise is not for sugar or molasses, or garden mulch, nor alternative uses such as cattle feed or ethanol.

It is being grown to drink.

Luke, Kylie and Dan have established Canefields Distillery, producing spirits made from sugarcane juice.

The first Canefields bottles, a limited run of cane spirit, went on sale in early May; rum is ageing in barrels; and a range of gin, including Australian dry and navy strength, is on the way.

The distillery grew out of a desire to see weed-filled canefields that farmers could not afford to maintain returned to productivity.

“I hated seeing them like that,” Luke said.

“The thinking was, ‘What’s the highest value we could grow before it goes out the gate?’” he said.

Luke’s uncles, Lindsay and Mick, who is Dan’s father, were open to the idea of a distillery and have allowed the trio to use some of the land they used to farm.

Peter Godfrey and Lindsay Cook harvesting cane in the mid-1990s.

Getting back into growing cane took some work as the best farm machinery had been sold off after the mill closure and all that remained was rusting in the paddocks.

“I reckon the first two years were spent welding,” Luke said.

Dan, who has a farming and mining background, is in charge of growing and runs the machinery; Kylie, a paralegal, has trained to be distiller; and Luke, a town planner, handles marketing and the rest of the business.

They are experimenting with different cane varieties and participating in a university study of heirloom varieties for use in rum production.

The crushing of the cane, done in a second-hand crush at the distillery, is the first time cane has been crushed on the Sunshine Coast since the mill closure.

Luke said being able to grow cane, crush and distil meant they could chart the history of each bottle from the time the cane was planted.

“We’re in a unique position of being able to produce single-source spirits,” he said.

“Each bottle is batch and crush dated and numbered.”

They also plan to experiment with seasonal additions, such as strawberries, for flavour variations.

Dan Cook and Kylie and Luke Farrelly with the Australian-made still they bought for Canefields.

Luke said the distillery was looking towards wineries as a model, with the potential to bottle specific crushes and batches in the way wineries would sell wines from certain paddocks or years.

The trio, who all work day jobs, are yet to celebrate their first crush or the sale of their first bottles.

“We’ve been too busy,” Luke said.

Lindsay Cook was happy with his first taste of Canfields, made from the Q240 strain and crushed last year.

“Yeah, it’s good. But I’m a cane farmer,” he said, acknowledging some bias.

Dan Cook pours a Canefields for Lindsay Cook to try.

The distillery has also supplied cane juice to two other distilleries and that is a market the trio hopes to build further.

Luke said the more they sold, the more they could grow, and they would love to see more land growing cane once again.

He hopes to be able to offer tours in the future to educate people about cane, its history in the area and what they are now doing with it.

“Maybe non-alcoholic tours for school students,” he said.

For now, bottles are only available for sale at the distillery door on Finland Road on the weekends. Times, which vary, are posted on Canefields’ social media.

Like stories about Sunshine Coast people doing great things? Help us deliver more by registering for our FREE daily news feed. All it requires is your name and email at the bottom of this article.

Subscribe to SCN’s Daily News

Hidden
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
[scn_go_back_button] Return Home
Share