John Day has sweet memories of the days when the Richmond River.
John Day has sweet memories of the days when the Richmond River.

A river of memories flooding back

JOHN DAY, of Broadwater, has sweet memories of the days when the Richmond River was alive with cane punts hauling crops to the sugar mill.

He enjoys reliving ‘great old days’, and hopes others will too.

He and mate Terry McKeough have organised a reunion for canecutters, boat crews and derrickmen to be held in the Broadwater Community Hall on February 28 from 10am.

Mr Day, 71, worked for 19 seasons up to 1969 as a derrickman at Garretts Wharf, near Boundary Creek, loading cane from cane carts on to punts to be towed by tug to the mill.

“The river then was quite busy. Sugar boats were coming and going to Sydney and these little fellas (the punts) were running up and down 24 hours a day,” Mr Day said.

When he finished as a derrickman, he worked at the mill weighing the punts before and after the cane was unloaded so farmers could be paid.

“Most of them leaked,” he said, admitting water made up some of the weight.

He said the sugar industry in those days was a much bigger concern than today.

“A lot of people have no idea the river hauls went on,” Mr Day said, explaining that some would only know about the truck transport system that has run since 1974 when cane was last cut by hand.

The reunion will be BYO drinks, and there will be a small cost to cover the hire of the hall and the barbecue lunch. RSVP by February 12. For more information phone Mr Day on 6682 8361 or Mr McKeough on 6682 8286.



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