Rupert (Rex) Malcolm Jones
Based upon an interview with Peter Evans in 1997

Graduating from the Victorian School of Forestry in 1933, Rex was first posted to Heywood and then to Ballarat where he worked under Frank Moulds on timber assessment in the Mount Cole forest. After further postings to Bendigo, Aireys Inlet and Chiltern he was appointed Assistant Forester under District Forester Arthur Ure in Taggerty in December 1937.

Rex’s main job in Taggerty was introducing the new log measurement system to the sawmillers and logging contractors – his mode of transport was a motorbike. From early December 1938 he was involved almost continuously in fire-fighting; experiencing the frustration of rounding up fires using hand tools only to lose control under increasing winds. On Saturday 7th January 1939 he took a gang of men to fight a fire caused by a lightning strike in rocky terrain up on the Blue Range. That fire broke away from them at 2am (Sunday) so they walked out only to find that a larger fire had spread from near Healesville through Taggerty to Alexandra. He spent Monday checking on the condition of sawmills in the District and on Tuesday he went to check the welfare of contractors in the Rubicon forest. With the fire approaching, he sheltered with some of the men he had met walking down the tramline – four had remained to protect the logging winch – in a dam for two or three hours while the fire swept over them; first the crown fire, followed by the ground fire. When things had cooled down a bit they dried out and rested; Rex woke at 7am to find that the rest of the men had left so he walked alone down the tramline through an eerily quiet, burnt out forest to the Tin Hut where he had his eyes treated for smoke irritation. On Friday January 13 (Black Friday), Rex assessed the tramlines for repair and on Saturday set up tents for the influx of mill workers who would be employed in the repair works.

Rex was posted to Toolangi immediately after the fires to replace Charlie Demby who was killed when the fire swept through there on Sunday 8th. After two or three months in Toolangi he was posted to Neerim where salvage of the fire-killed timber had commenced. Most of his time there was spent in calculating and distributing wages to the 100 or so employees although he also worked on introducing the log measurement system and helped Bjarne Dahl for several months assessing for pulp timbers in the Matlock area.

With the outbreak of World War II, Rex joined the Forestry Company and was posted to England for about three-and-a-half years. On his return he was posted to Mildura where he proposed a planting program to counter wind erosion in the Ouyen area but, after six months, he was appointed to the Sales and Marketing group in Melbourne. He resigned in 1948, partly out of frustration with the attempts of the Minister to favour certain sawmillers.