Manildra to Melbourne – the sweetest train of all

There are many cargoes that go by rail, but the sweetest one would be the sugar that that Manildra Group transports from northern NSW to Melbourne.

Having left the four loaded wagons in the Manildra siding at North Dynon, Y152 shunts out with the four empties

The sugar is refined at the Harwood sugar mill in northern New South Wales, near Grafton, in a plant established in 1989 by the Manildra Group and New South Wales Sugar Milling Cooperative.

Google Maps

It is then transported by road to South Grafton and stored in silos, ready to be loaded into rail hopper wagons.

Google Street View

Pacific National shunts the wagons using a 48 class locomotive, attaches them to a southbound freight train bound for Newscatle, and then onto the tail end of a southbound steel train for the trip to Melbourne.

Sugar wagons passing Middle Footscray, attached to the tail end of the southbound WM2 steel train

On arrival in Melbourne the sugar hoppers are collected by the South Dynon shunter.

Y152 waiting in the Melbourne Operations Terminal with three loaded NGGF hoppers taken off a down SG steel train

And taken over to the Manildra siding at the back of South Kensington station.

Empting out the Manildra warehouse at West Melbourne

The empty wagons are taken away.

Y152 leave the three loaded NGGF hoppers in the siding

And the loaded wagons shunted in.

Having left the four loaded wagons in the Manildra siding at North Dynon, Y152 shunts out with the four empties

With the Manildra staff using their own shunting tractor to move the wagons into their unloading shed.

NGGF sugar hoppers being moved by tractor at North Dynon

The empty wagons are then returned to South Dynon.

Y152 traverses 'W' track on the return from North Dynon with the empty NGGF wagons

Then attached on the next northbound steel train for the trip back to Grafton.

NGGF sugar wagons and 'butterbox' containers at the front of MW2 steel train at Albion

But it has come to an end

In late 2018 Manildra Group listed their site in West Melbourne for sale.

Commercial Real photo

The plant has since been shut down, with the site being cleared.

Empting out the Manildra warehouse at West Melbourne

Manildra operate a second Melbourne plant at Altona North, around the corner from the paused Port Rail Shuttle terminal, so the sugar train is no more.

Some history

The Manildra Group complex dates back to 1907, when James Minifie & Co opened the ‘Victoria Roller Flour Mill’ on the site, with the adjacent concrete silos were designed by Edward Giles Stone were built beside the mill in 1910-11. The mill produced ‘O-So-Lite’ packaged flour and cake mixes, until it closed in 1969.

Lennon St 001 James Minifie flour mill complex from Childers St, Flemington-Kensington 1984 sheet 68  34
Photo by Graeme Butler, Flemington & Kensington Conservation Study 1985

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