Tramways were a practical solution to the problem of moving large quantities of goods and materials on sugar plantations. They also reduced the need for additional labourers and pack animals. The use of tramways was seen to enable work to be done more speedily, at less cost, and without the tramping, which horses and carts or dray necessarily inflict upon the cane fields.
Raff constructed a tramway at Moray Fields and was a vocal supporter of their use. By 1867 a 1.5 mile long tramway formed on heavy logs and of 3 foot rail gauge, was in use to deliver loads of cut cane to the on-site mill and had a branch line installed that led to the plantation wharf on the Caboolture River (Unknown Author 1867).
The Reverend John Dunmore Lang noted during his 1868 visit that:
“…for bringing the canes to the mill…is in the form of an eccentric ellipse, traversing the whole plantation…gauge is three feet, and the rails are laid on massive sleepers of bloodwood…This railway is altogether a most substantial structure, and its length is nearly two miles.”
(Brisbane Courier, 1868, Cotton and Sugar, The Great Staples of Queensland, 6 October 1868, p.2)
The tramway expanded over the next decade, reaching “…between two and three miles in length” in 1878. Most of the original wooden rails had been replaced by iron rails, though a short stretch of wooden rail survived. Raff displayed the tramway machinery at an exhibition at Bowen Park that year. Rolling stock were described as being “light, four-wheeled cars each to carry five hundredweight of cane; two loaded carts can be pushed by a man” and rails were 2×2 hardwood timber in portable sections each 16ft long, tied together by light cross pieces Unknown Author (1870, 1878a).
John Dunmore Lang (1868) Cotton and Sugar, The Great Staples of Queensland, The Brisbane Courier, 6 October 1868, p.2.
Unknown author (1867) Mr Raff’s, The Brisbane Courier, 19 October 1867, p.2.
Unknown Author (1870) Railway Extension, The Brisbane Courier, 28 April 1870, p.3.
Unknown Author (1878a) Low Cost Railways in Queensland, The Brisbane Courier, 19 January 1878, p.7.
Unknown Author (1878b) Machinery, The Queenslander, 24 August 1878, p.662.