"The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do."
Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia, Inaugural Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture, August 1996.

Kristian Drangsholt

A Pioneer Forest Assessor of the FCV
David Drangsholt (bio)

This article about my father comes from extracts from my book, Man of the Forest.

Kristian Drangsholt, was born at Kristiansand in Norway, on 17 October, 1899. He came to Australia in 1927 and joined the FCV in February of that year.

“Kristian finished school in 1916 and then was employed in practical forestry in the southern part of Norway until the Spring of 1918. His grandfather still had interests in timber, which is the reason Kristian was able to pursue a career in forestry.”

Kristian was awarded a Master of Science as a Forest Engineer, and then a Diploma, Forest Engineering, in Spring 1924.

Within the FCV “it seems there was a concerted push for foresters from Norway by 1927, and the men employed … were Bernhard Johannessen, Kristian Drangsholt, T Dahlstrom and Bjarne Dahl.”

“… my father, as one of these, was working in the Rubicon forests with Bernhard Johannessen by early 1928.”

“ … both my father and Johannessen were appointed as Forest Assessors in November 1928 at a salary of five pound, ten shillings per week, plus 3d per day camping allowance and a horse allowance of 40 pound per year. Although both had been working for the Forests Commission since February, 1927 it can be noted they do not appear on the Staff Records of the Forests Commission of Victoria as Assessors until 1 July, 1929.”

“My father and Bernhard Johannessen had a close bond. So I can imagine my father’s disappointment when Johannessen left the job on 16 August, 1930 to pursue a position with the Dutch Forest Service where no doubt he would be more generously remunerated. Johannessen’s departure was amicable, and in his letter to the Commission he thanked his superiors and told of how he had become attached to Australia and Australians and he therefore left with regret. Such was my father’s anguish in losing the company of his good friend that he applied for leave of absence to also spend some time in Java working with his friend. By his staff records it is noted he took leave without pay from 11 November 1932 for six months. Upon his return to Australia, he again pitted his skills to surveying Victoria’s timber resources, and mapping his results. This would continue for the next twenty years.”

“My father’s first recorded work of assessment duties was carried out with Bernhard Johannessen in the Rubicon Forests in 1928. So the first accurate topographical maps of the forests and their timber reserves was done by these two Norwegians. The work was carried out in the Royston Valley by Bernhard Johannessen, and in the Rubicon Valley by Kristian Drangsholt. When Johannessen left to work for the Dutch Government, Bjarne Dahl swapped with my father in camps and assessment duties in Head Office. Dahl had come to Australia in 1928 and is recorded as being on the Forests Commission payroll in March, 1929. The two Norwegians became firm friends and no doubt kept each other sane by being fellow Norwegians and coming from the same town in Norway, Kristiansand. Each assessor had a chainman and an axeman as his assistants, and their camps consisted of a hut (if there were any) and several tent camps. The work consisted of base line survey with the forest being transected into one chain wide strips at five chain intervals. In each strip, plots were set out in which the trees were counted and aged, and their condition and species noted."

"From Rubicon my father worked on assessment duties throughout Victoria. Areas such as Powelltown, Mount Horsfall, Castlemaine, Maldon, Lal Lal, Brisbane Ranges, Brittania Creek, West Tanjil, Upper Thomson. Mount Donna Buang, Daylesford, Blakeville, Cobaw, Moondarra, Orbost, NowaNowa, Waygara, Tyldesley, and Tostaree were just some of the country he walked over. All of this work was done with horse and on foot, and in the most harsh conditions."

"Often they were working in trackless bush and produced the first topographical maps of the areas - detailed maps were rare in those years before the Second World War 1939-45. Accidents were common and help was far away. In fact one time in the Thomson catchment my father was almost drowned as he tried to cross theThomson river in flood to reach the sanctuary of Aberfeldy."

In his article, Roger Smith notes, "This early work by these Norwegian foresters initially being based at places like Taggerty and Marysville eventually extended across most of the foothill forests of the State with transects or strips then being placed further apart at 20 chain intervals giving a 5% sample of the assessment block."

"He was to his fellow officers in the Forests Commission seen as an excellent worker in the field with his office work also being well above the average. He was a well educated man with an excellent grasp of the English language and excellent writing skills. But his love was in his field work."

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