Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Twenty-One Seasons Chasing the Cut along the Queensland Coast

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Twenty-One Seasons Chasing the Cut along the Queensland Coast

Article excerpt

IT was dirty, seasonal work, but Frank Doughty loved nothing more.

The former Bundaberg resident is part of the region's rich sugarcane farming history, one of the last to cut cane by hand before machinery took over.

Now Mr Doughty, who will celebrate his 90th birthday this weekend, uses his trusted cane knife to trim the edges around his Landsborough home, but he still remembers the good old days.

Born in 1928 in Wagga Wagga, Mr Doughty's parents had a small country sawmill at Rosewood. His father also had trucks and provided his townsfolk with fuel and fertiliser.

At the age of 19, with dreams of earning big dollars as a cane cutter, Mr Doughty left his family in NSW and travelled to Queensland, to his uncle's pineapple farm at Rosemount, near Nambour.

In 1948 Mr Doughty managed to secure work with Bill Bullen on a farm in Nambour and in the same year also worked for Petersen's cane and smallcrops farm at Rosemount.

With itchy feet and a desire to "chase the cut", a year later he bought a motorbike and headed north.

"The Bruce Highway was little more than a two-wheel track at that time," Mr Doughty's son, Brian, said.

He found work near Ingham but finished up in February 1950.

"The way to cut those days was called underarm -- usually two sticks at a time. Blokes from Bundy working there cut by stooling, which was faster, so Dad cut this way from then on," Brian said.

A slack period saw him make his way back down the highway to Kenilworth at Doyle's Mill before completing three-quarters of a season with Vic Clarke and the last quarter on a farm in Childers.

"Dad and his mate were gun cutters... others reckon they were hungry, called Dad Hungario One and his mate Hungario Two," Brian said.

Another slack in 1951 forced a quick change in career to truck driver, before he again gained employment as a cane cutter at the Bingera Plantation. Over the next 18 years until 1968, Mr Doughty worked at a string of farms across the Bundaberg region, including at Fairymead, South Kolan, Tegege, Qunaba, Sharon and South Bingera. …

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