Part 1 : Banyuputih, Situbondo & Bondowoso

My first sugar mill journey starts off in the Eastern section of the Java Island. Here, almost all the sugar mills still operate their field lines, apart from Prajekan Sugar Mill in Bondowoso, and Panji Sugar Mill in East Situbondo since 2014 (2 years after the initial date that this blog was written. 2013 saw Panji's last field workings before all their field lines were ripped up). This is because the Eastern part of Java Island is still sparsely populated, and not that much road vehicles go along the main roads in the Eastern part of Java. The only road vehicles that goes down this way is probably the buses to Bali, but even that only go past every half an hour or so. So you can tell that the road is still quiet, hence this is why the narrow gauge railways can survive well in this area. The most interesting about the Eastern part of Java is the Olean Sugar Mill still operates their steam loco on their field lines as a means of carrying the sugar canes from the cane fields and into the sugar mill.

In Banyuputih, lies the Asembagus Sugar Mill. Asembagus is quite a large sugar mill that still operates hundreds of kilometers of their narrow gauge field lines. They even still operate their field line that goes towards their own harbour, called the Jangkar Harbour, so that the sacks of sugar can be moved and lifted directly onto ships ready to be transported to other parts of Indonesia. This section of the line is the North field line which then has a branch going towards the West and the East. I decided to follow the East branch from the North line, where an Orrenstein & Koppel diesel was just packing up the remaining portable tracks and moving them towards the other sections of the cane fields located somewhere North of the sugar mill. Asembagus Sugar Mill also runs a steam loco for tourist purposes, but you need special permits and permissions in order to charter the steam loco. Since I came here individually and not with a group, I only got a photo of an O&K diesel diesel loco.

Asembagus Sugar Mill's No. 6 O&K diesel loco collecting the portable tracks from a section of the cane fields where the canes had been chopped down and carried to the mill. Photo dated 2012.

Cattles and oxes are once again put into power to haul the canes from deep inside the cane fields. In some other mills, such as Semboro, or in a rare case here at Asembagus (or so the crew told me), smaller Schoema diesel locos are being utilized to haul the canes from deep inside the cane fields. In the backgrounds you can see the towering chimney and the building of Asembagus Sugar Mill, with the backdrop of Ijen Volcano. Photo dated 2014.

Asembagus Sugar Mill's No.8 Hokuriku 0-6-0DH hauls a rack of cane lorries from the North canefield. Note that this is also the railway line that connects the sugar mill to the Jangkar Harbour in East of Situbondo, East Java, Indonesia. Photo dated 2014.

A woman shepherd guides her sheeps while Asembagus's no.5 & 6 4wDM Brookville diesel locos awaits for the next another set of fully loaded cane wagons. Another particular scene to indicate that this photo was taken in Java. Photo dated 2014.

Situbondo you can call it “The Daddy of All Sugar Mills”. Here they have 3 sugar mills in which they all still operate all their field lines. All the sugar mills in Situbondo only operate diesel locos now, apart from Olean. But it still provides good scenery here. 

If you go Eastward from Asembagus Sugar Mill along the main highway, you can see the narrow gauge track of Panji Sugar Mill beside the highway that goes towards the cane fields East of the Panji Sugar Mill. Panji Sugar Mill itself is located East of Situbondo, right after you pass the exit sign from the Situbondo main town.

Panji Sugar Mill's No. 5 Diema diesel came back with the leftover empties from a section of the cane fields where the canes has been chopped down. This Diema diesel is transporting all the leftover empties back inside the mill. Photo dated 2012.

2013 saw the last field workings of Panji Sugar Mill. Lots of reasons behind it, but the main one was probably the land taxes got so expensive, especially the land taxes around the Situbondo - Banyuwangi main road, where the majority of the railways were laid. I regret that I didn't spend much time photographing the field workings of Panji, as my main attention was always turned to Olean. Here the no.3 Schoema 0-4-0 4wDM shunts the empties, as it is confined to only a yard work now. This section of the track was where the tracks used to lead to the cane fields. Photo dated 2015.

In 2013 not only did Panji Sugar Mill torn out (almost) all of their field lines, but they also moved the road transfer crane to the inside yard of the mill. This means you can't see the canes that are coming from the trucks being transferred to the cane wagons anymore, as this was located on the side of the main road from Situbondo to Banyuwangi. Seen on the photo, is a no.9 Japanese Keio Yashima 0-4-0 DH diesel loco working the canes from trucks. Photo dated 2014.

From East of Situbondo, moving towards the North of Situbondo. Here, you get to see the Olean Sugar Mill’s steam loco in action on the cane fields. When I went there, the no.4 O&K 0-8-0T steam loco was the primary loco, although at times, the I saw the no. 1 O&K 0-8-0T steam loco also did the job of picking up the canes in the cane fields.

In sugar mills where they still run field lines, traditional method by using cattles are still used to drag the fully loaded lorries from deep inside the cane fields up to the nearest branch line, such as the one here used in a section of Olean Sugar Mill's cane fields. Photo dated 2012.

Once the cane train is made, it is then ready to be transported back to the mill. Here no.4 O&K 0-8-0T steam loco is standing by preparing to take back the made up cane trains back to the mill. Photo dated 2013.

Seen here is no.4 O&K 0-8-0T on its journey back to the mill with the canes. The scene of local children makes photo like this shows more of the real everyday scene on the rural areas of Java. Photo dated 2014. 

Upon arriving back on the mill, the loco will take each of the cane wagons towards the cane table in order for the canes to be crushed and squeezed out their juice. Seen on the background is the weighbridge, used to weigh each of the canes in each wagon. That determines how much the mill must pay the particular farmer that has stored their canes to the mill. Photo dated 2014.

If you like what you see from Olean, and since I'm a huge steam fan, I've put up my own amateur video just to get a view of what the action looked like.

Here's a scene from 2012

Another scene from 2013.

And the last stop in Situbondo was the Wringin Anom Sugar Mill, West of Situbondo. Here, they still operate their field lines but only the diesels that are remaining. Very nice and beautiful spots that you can get here with the background of a mountain, perfect for photography. You also get Wringin Anom’s narrow gauge field line crossing over the unused cape gauge 3 ft 6 in railway line owned by Indonesian State Railway, going from Situbondo to Panarukan.

Borrowing another mill's loco is very common here in Java, especially when nearing to the end of the milling season. Here, the slightly far neighbouring Prajekan's no.2 Schoema 0-6-0 4wDM is set to work on Wringinanom's field lines. Photo dated 2014.

No.6 Kyosan Kogyu 0-4-0 4wDM is working the South line with a rake of empties. Photo dated 2015.

Wringinanom's No. 6 Kyosan Kogyu diesel loco about to pass the narrow gauge - unused cape gauge 3 ft 6 in railway intersection. The unused 3 ft 6 in cape gauge track is a track from Kalisat to Panarukan owned by Indonesian State Railway Firm (PT KAI). Photo dated 2012.

Another interesting feature of Wringinanom's field line, is beside it is being linked to Olean and crosses the former cape gauge State Railway, it also crosses a very wide river, called River Sampeyan. Rumours has it that the original bridge got torn down due to a landslide in the river, but I guess the mill officials made a decision to repair it and made a new bridge out of it. So here, it is pictured with a no.6 Kyosan Kogyu 0-4-0 4wDM back with the canes. Photo dated 2012.

Just before leaving Situbondo, a quick nip to Prajekan Sugar Mill, North of Bondowoso, or South of Situbondo. Here, they don’t run their field lines anymore, but they still run a molasses narrow gauge train, which is still an attraction for me. The molasses train only goes back and forth, from the molasses tank just behind Prajekan Sugar Mill, it goes around the wall, out onto the main road and into the front entrance of the mill. The molasses train does a total of up to 22 daily journeys (11 daily return journeys) from the molasses tank to the front section of the sugar mill.

Prajekan Sugar Mill's No. 3 Hokuriku diesel loco just leaving the molasses tank located behind the sugar mill itself after collecting its molasses stored in the molasses wagon. Photo dated 2012.

Prajekan Sugar Mill's molasses train hauled by No. 3 Hokuriku diesel loco is now travelling beside the Bondowoso - Situbondo highway. Photo dated 2012.

In 2016, the molasses tankers were made uniform to the loco by painting them orange. Here, it is seen going towards the back of the mill to be filled by molasses.


  1. Great report! I am in Situbondo right now and heading to olean sugar mill after breakfast if I can find a driver! Many thanks again for an extremely informative blog.

    1. Okay, no problem Liam. ;) FYI, Olean has fully 100% converted to diesel since 2015, so there's no more regular steam even though there's the field line actions. It is a remote mill. I normally go there on a motorcycle, but if you went on a public transport, you may want to pay quite a lot on an "Ojek" driver. That way it'd be better.

    2. Oh, and I forgot to say this. If you have anymore questions or things to ask, feel free to email me at