1939 Salvage

 This article is still being developed

This article contains an extract from "A New Beginning. The Story of Heyfield and the Sawmilling Industry, 1945-1995". This book by Brian Howell was written for, and published in 1995 by, the Heyfield Community Resource Centre. The FCRPA has permission to use extracts from the book. 

"One of the areas ravaged by the fires was the ash forest to the east of Noojee and extending to Mount Erica. Unlike the mixed species timbers of the foothills, the ash eucalypts cannot withstand a burn of the magnitude of the 1939 fires. Therefore, it became imperative that the fire-killed trees be harvested for timber before they deteriorated through weather and insect attack.

 The need for a quick response was further emphasised by the demands of the war effort, which required ever-increasing quantities of timber. Indeed, it is interesting to speculate how much of this resource would have been left to fall over and rot had it not been for this unprecedented demand. It is hard to see how the housing industry, still recovering from the depression years, could have utilised the enormous amount of material harvested and processed from the fire-killed ash forests during the 1940s.

Two initiatives were undertaken to enable the fire-killed trees in the forests of Tanjil Bren to be processed before weathering and insects rendered them fit only for pulpwood. The first was salvage falling. This involved falling best quality trees which were then cut into long lengths and the ends coated with a preservative emul-sion. These were allowed to lie on the ground where they were soon sheltered by an undergrowth of ash regeneration and scrub which grew profusely following the fires. The extent to which this could be done was limited for practical reasons but it did work very well. These fallen trees were in excellent condition, with few cracks, and sapwood which was damp, soft and easy to saw.

The second initiative was the granting in 1940-41 of quota allocations to eleven companies to log and mill the stands of timber centred on Tanjil Bren, some 40 kilometres from Noojee and extending eastwards to the slopes of Mt Baw Baw. At the same time, sawmills at Erica were also processing fire-killed ash from areas which had previously undergone logging.

Later in the 1940s the mainstream of the logging operations shifted to Tooronga, the Upper Thompson and Matlock. Mills were established at these locations but logs were also carted to Noojee."  (Howell B, 1995)

In the photo gallery below the only date known is "1941" for the Mundii Dam photo on the Toorongo Plateau.  I have estimated dates for the other three photos.  Where was Saxtons Mill at this time?  RR

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