The archaeological program at Ageston Plantation began in late September 2012 with a joint project between the University of Queensland and City of Gold Coast's Office of City Architect to investigate the archaeological potential of the site.
Described in 1873 as one of the finest plants in the Moreton district, the Ageston Sugar Mill in Alberton operated on this site from 1866 to the 1890s.
The Australian sugar industry actually began on the Gold Coast and is one of Queensland’s oldest agricultural industries. Suburb names like Helensvale, Benowa, Bundall and Ageston were originally the names of the sugar plantations that operated there.
Sugar plantations were self-contained villages which usually included a blacksmith, workers’ barracks, stores, wharf, mill buildings, sawmill, dairy and carpenter’s house. Ageston Plantation was one such complex. Ageston Plantation was owned by Gympie identity, Mr W. H .Couldery, Esq., and run by an onsite manager.
The industry on the site included sugar manufacture, a rum distillery, a sawmill, brickworks, a dairy and a herd of 50 purebred Ayrshire cattle. In the mid 1880s, the sugar mill had a capacity to process about two tons of sugarcane per day.
Sugar manufacture is a complex process which fortunately makes for a great archaeological site. Work on this site revealed a complex arrangement of features such as a Cornish boiler, an evaporation pan, stone and steel structures to support steam driven wheels, brick floors (including examples of the famed fire-clay Ageston bricks), brick kiln, steps and walls.