Chips, Bark and Sawdust

1938 - 1974

“I hope that by putting these events and happenings on paper, it will be of interest to my relations, and forest officers in time to come. The past 35 years has seen great strides in forestry, and the next 35 years will no doubt bring even more progress.”

Thomas A. Higgins
Forest Overseer
Nowa Nowa Forest District

The following are extracts from Tom’s paper titled ‘Chips, bark, sawdust and scales’, in which he summarised items from his work diary. They include information from other notes by Tom.

1938 to 1950

My first introduction to sleeper cutting when I spent a couple of days with Richie Trevaskis in the Mottle Range area.
Richie accepted a beam cutting contract for Joe DePiazza of Orbost. We set up in the hills beyond Murrungowar.
Started work with the Forests Commission of Victoria. Mr E.D. Gill D.F.O.
With Foreman H.E. McKie erecting camp for gang to commence road to Mt Tara. This is in readiness to erect fire tower on same.
(Tom started construction of the road with Ivan Cootes using horses, plough, scoop and grader. It became the first job for the Commission’s first crawler tractor operated by Alex Havers and Ernie Fitzclarence.)
New Year’s Day at Glory Holes Beach. Mr Gill D.F.O. told me that day, I was on permanent from that date. Previously I was only casual, temporary, permanent?
Enlisted in A.I.F. Promoted to Bombardier in 1943. Served in New Guinea with 2/2 Field Regiment. While in New Guinea worked with engineer on road construction and bridge building. This was done in readiness for attack on Japanese stronghold at Wewak.
Complete war service. Mr J. Cosstick D.F.O. put my name in as applicant to attend Forest Foremans School at Kinglake. I had successfully passed an Army Education Course in forestry from Melbourne Technical School. My correspondence teacher was Mr R.W. Bond.
Foremans School at Kinglake starts. In our first exam Tom Loughrey had a question – “What is my name?” One hard doer put LOVELY. Tom said this bloke thinks I’m lovely, so he’ll get on.
Recommenced with the Forests Commission after four years war service. Leading Hand.
Started diary of work, as I now have to compile journal each month.
Start erection of store rooms at the Nowa Nowa office. These are still in use (1974).
Erected first vehicle ramp at yard.
Check equipment for Seldom Seen tower. Tower being constructed for fire spotting.
Purchase 2 year old horse from O. Davies for £13. Called him ‘Boxer’. Use for work at £60 per year.
Alex Havers and I take bulldozer to junction of Kenny’s and River roads.
Completed erection of cattle pit at Nowa Nowa yard. Jim McKinty was just saying it was a good job, when the boarding house cow hopped across it as though there was nothing there.
Start to re-deck Burnt Bridge.
First supervision of J. Cameron & Co pole cutters. Rogues incorporated.
Broad arrow 400 poles J. Cameron, cheque bounced.
(By marking the poles with the 'broad arrow' Tom was seizing the poles for the Crown. The double-ended metal hammer Tom used comprised a crown at one end enclosing a unique number, which was registered to him, and a broad arrow at the other.)
First brand of poles for Kennedy & McDiarmid. The last brand 1973. Excellent licensees.
J. Collins & Stott sawmill commences falling in the Tildesley West Logging Unit.
Snowy River Authority formed to implement the Snowy River scheme.
Arthur Lowe’s sawmill commences logging operations, Hartland River Logging Unit. Contractors Nelson Bros. Fallers J. Geddes and Frank?
New Forest Commission office at Nowa Nowa opened.
Sinclair and McLees, sawmillers, start logging operations on Knocker Road, Tildesly West Logging Unit.
Supervise cutting of willow logs Buchan River. To be used in manufacture of cricket bats.
(The purchaser would have been Jim Crockett who also investigated willows in the Orbost District in 1955. The 'Crockett' brand of bats became a household name amongst cricketers.)
First supervision of H. Cameron pole-pile contractor.
Supervised log samples for CSIRO.
Appointed Forest Overseer 1. Salary £1141 pa.