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Tour of Goondiwindi Town and Alcheringa cotton farm

There was much excitement as the visitors gaily exchanged small pieces of coloured polymer material for beautiful cotton garments at the “trading centre” – Goondiwindi Cotton. 

The garments had been fashioned from natural fibres which grow abundantly on many acres of arable land which surround the town of Goondiwindi in South Western Queensland.   Husbands had been advised that it was safe to open their wallets as the moths would show little interest in cotton fibres being more accustomed to wool.   We lied!  But the damage was done before the men regained control of the purse strings.


The Goondiwindi Cotton retail outlet was the last stop in a tour of Goondiwindi town and nearby farms undertaken by the Warwick Combined Probus Club.


An early morning start on a chilly autumn morning was followed by a day of warm weather with clear blue skies for our visit.  The Goondiwindi Water Park features a man made billabong with a central island.  Skiers travel anticlockwise because of the narrow channel.  The park is readily accessible by all forms of transport, and provides facilities for a variety of sport and recreational activities, including catering for those who are mobility impaired.  


Fae Horridge, our guide for the day, joined us at morning tea before directing us to the Goondiwindi Cotton gin (short for engine).   A procession of trucks and semi-trailers carried bales and modules of cotton from the farms for processing at the gin.  During harvest, the raw product is wrapped in recyclable material as protection against soiling and moisture.  At the gin it is stored in open paddocks, and transported by “moon buggy” from storage to the gin.  Here it is separated into lint and seeds.  The lint is graded and baled for shipment with the bulk of the crop going overseas.  The seed is sold for processing into stockfeed, oils, and cosmetic products.


Cotton is usually planted between September and November with harvesting between February and June.  Because of growing conditions the gins will operate from April until July this year.  We drove past several paddocks of cotton where the bolls had opened and the crop was ready for harvest.  Because of light rain, equipment cannot get onto the fields, so harvesting has been delayed.  About 2 weeks before the harvest, the crop is defoliated with a saline mixture.  Further moisture promotes fresh leaf growth, discolours the lint, and leads to a reduction in quality. 

Older two- row harvesters have been replaced by more efficient plant which harvests 4 or 6 rows.  A chute passes along the furrow while lint is stripped from the bolls by spinning serrated spindles.  Lint is either wrapped in bales during harvest, or pressed into modules for transport to the gin.   The trash which remains after harvest is mulched and ploughed back into the soil. 

During the return journey to Warwick we visited the Spinifex desert near Yelarbon to view the crop in its natural environment.   Here we were entertained by one member breaking into an impromptu dance after standing on an ants nest.  He was somewhat distressed after being attacked by swarms of ants intent on revenge.