Our Stories – part 1…

My great grandfather Bertie Peri, who’s Italian name was Giovanni Batista Peri (John the Baptist) came out in 1920 when he was only fifteen when he wanted to come out to Australia, but being so young he needed a guardian to travel with him.

Mr Pino Cominadi (whose descendants are still in the Ingham district, as is nonno’s) was his guardian and they came over to Australia together and their first job was cane cutting on the Adam’s and Blackburn family farms at Macknade in the year 1920.

The residents in the Ingham district at the time consisted of a few maltese a few spanish but mostly those with Italian heritage. Those who became cane cutters out at Halifax ended up living in a barracks together. Many stories have come from the Adam’s and Blackburn families especially how nonno loved Mrs Blackburn’s corn brisket and when nonno got married, he took his wife – Carmelina Toirrisi to the local butcher’s and he made sure his wife could make corn brisket like Mrs Blackburn did every Saturday. Still to this day, corn brisket became tradition amongst many families. In 1924, 

One famous story of nonno’s was how Halifax at the time was busier than Ingham And the cane cutters all flocked to  the area and had barracks to live in out there. One day nonno was riding a horse into Ingham when he came across a big suitcase in low grass and he didn’t know what to do, so he hid it better in long grass and didn’t say anything.

He came back to his home, It was a Saturday and he didn’t let on about his findings. On Sunday morning, he made an excuse that he had to go back into town to visit somebody. All the other cane cutters were asking why he had to go back to Ingham so soon after his return.

He said he had to go and went and picked up the big suitcase he had hidden in the long grass which proved to be quite a challenge to get on the back of his horse. He tried many different ways, pulled it up a tree even, and he finally got it up on the back of his horse and he took it into the Ingham Police Station.

When he got there, there was a man sitting there – once he saw nonno he ran towards him, he was a travelling salesman who had lost his suitcase. Nonno took it into the Police Station and they worked out the case belonged to a Mr Stevens – a commercial traveller.

Mr Stevens wanted to take nonno for a beer but nothing was open – Mr Stevens never forgot how nonno found his suitcase. He knew if he took his suitcase back to where he was staying with all his cane cutter mates in the barracks, they would want the stuff he had in his suitcase so he hid it.

I love sitting with my nanna and listening to the stories she has told us from when we were young… I think secretly she was impressed that I remembered some of the story… I love my nan and don’t have much free time but when I do I take the boys to see her. We have always been and will always be close.

Until next time 😘

Aquo Xx

How sugar cane grows and how much fun growing up on a cane farm is…

Video by Farming Media – YouTube

In our house – our big boy when he turned one would carry on until we turned harvesting videos on and he would sit on one of his tractors or his harvester and would not move! Probably the reason why he drove nonno’s harvester last season. Dad was playing around with his GPS – next minute the harvester started moving. It was hilarious! Our German Au Pairs were amazed how he could tell them exactly what was happening and what everything is.

Sugarcane has been my life – since the day I popped out. Essentially sugar cane is the main industry that fuels our town. I’ve recently been researching the production process and things like that… I’ve got an idea, but I can’t explain it – so I teach myself, the internet is the most powerful tool in the world you just need to know what you’re looking for.

sugarcane is a tall tropical perennial grass that grows to between 2-4m high. It’s used to make heaps of different processed foods, drinks and things like molasses and golden syrup. The biofuel ethanol can also be produced from sugarcane which can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form but is usually blended with gasoline to improve vehicle emissions.

Sugar cane has heaps of nicknames like sugar bush, sticks, there are so many different things we call it. Sugar cane needs 1.5 m of rainfall each year if not more or access to irrigation to survive. Sugar is made in the leaves of the sugarcane plant through a natural process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis occurs when a plant, using energy from the sun, transforms carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20) into oxygen (02) and glucose (sugar).

The plant absorbs water through its roots and oxygen from the air through the pores in its leaves. Sugar is created when this process is combined with the help of a substance called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is green and gives plants their colour. It allows plants to absorb the sun’s energy more readily. In the same way that animals store fat, the sugarcane plant stores energy that is doesn’t need. This extra energy is sugar and it is stored as sweet juice in the plants’ stalks.

When ripe, sugarcane stalks are harvested (the fun part!) and taken to a sugar mill and converted into raw sugar. In the Herbert River district we have two sugar mills – Victoria and Macknade Mill. Victoria mill produced 3330 million tonnes of sugar in 2007 being the mill that produced the largest amount of sugar in Queensland.

In Australia, sugarcane can be seen growing along 2,100 kilometers of coastline between Mossman in far north Queensland and Grafton in northern New South Wales. Because of their proximity, many cane growing families spend their weekends outdoors riding motor bikes/quads and fishing. Cane growers go out of their way to manage the land so it is still in excellent condition for their children and grandchildren to enjoy for many generations to come.

I miss the days were we would burn cane in the Herbert. Black snow (ash) everywhere! I still remember the smell… I wouldn’t let mum wash my shirt for a week after it… #Farm kid. There is nothing better than growing up on a farm! I remember finishing my homework so quick so I could go mowing, ride the quad bikes/motorbikes or go and chat to dad in the shed. I remember my old headland bomb – cheers uncle Micky! My cousins and siblings helped me paint it – I strolled off to the shed – noone there, it’s all good, a drum of John Deere green paint, i’ll take that! We painted it with rollers and ended up banging it up pretty bad.

I can’t remember if I got away with murder or I just didn’t listen… You know – a regular teenager! I made friends with the kids that lived out my way and we used to run amuck. I remember one had a go kart OMG – so. much. FUN. Dad still has the same quad that we have had since 1997 – It’s never been rebuilt and it still has the original tires. I don’t know how it’s still alive – we flogged that thing… Good ole Honda.

Here are some of my favourite photos:-

My nonno (Jack Aquilini) back in the day with a python he killed – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My nonno – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My Nonno & Dad down in the Burdekin – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Dad & Douggie – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Cane fire south of Ingham – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxis first came on the scene – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxihauls were new and dad still had the ’97’ Cameco ‘Pac man 2’ – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
The transporter ‘Fat Boy’ in action – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
One of the days I went hauling back in 2012 – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Dad ‘Big Al’ – Photo by Amy Aquilini
During my recovery, this is where I loved to be – with my daddy! – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Sunrise at our farm – Photo by Amy Aquilini
My sister-in-law Katy Irvin and I at the field day – Photo by Allen Aquilini
John, Andrew & Jack and Allen & Amy Aquilini, Irvin – Photo by Amy Aquilini
The day my boy drove the harvester – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Our wedding day – Photo by Rachelle Angela
It’s in our blood – Photo by Andrew Irvin
My big boy and I – Photo by Amy Aquilini

Aquo Xx