The Timber Industry

.As you wander along the trails or back roads around Collie, it is hard to believe you are looking at a decades old secondary forest. In fact, a century ago, these beautiful tracts were very similar to the stands further south today with groves of huge karri and jarrah.

At the turn of last century, when timber getting was not blessed with any motorized assistance, it took a team of men up to a day to cut down a single giant tree.

The logs weighed many tons and were then slowly dragged out over the hills by horses or bullocks to tracks or rail heads. The timber industry even had its own narrow gauge rail systems.

In the early years of the 20th century, there were literally dozens of mills employing hundreds of men dotted throughout the forest, cutting our centuries old trees, to supply the ravenous demands of not only the railway in Western Australia and later the Intercontinental line to the eastern states, but for paving the roads of London. Jarrah was cut into blocks that were laid on end before tarmac became popular.

Of course the local coal industry also depended on jarrah with thousands of tons of massive posts cut to prop up the galleries that snaked below the ground each year. It was a lucky coincidence that the coal seams were literally directly below the forest.

Fortunately, most of the forests are now National Parks, so are protected from any future logging or clearing. Instead of timber harvester trails, the forest is now crisscrossed by a network of hiking and mountain bike trails. There are still a few old forest giants, standing proud as reminder of the former glory of the forest and what it could be again if left to grow unharvested for a couple of hundred years


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