Iron, Steel & Timber: A Transient Heritage

John Dargavel

Keywords: Band saws, box mills, Bunnings Ltd, circular saws, Donnelly River mill, exports, forest sawmills, frame saws, J. Wright, spot mills, vertical saws, W.H. Warren, water mills

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The paper provides an overview of the Australian sawmilling industry from 1788 to the present against which its heritage stories can be told. Mechanised sawmilling became firmly established from the 1850s. It looked to exports where it could and competed with imported softwoods. Before WWI it was largely an industry of small steam-powered sawmills located in the forests and some metropolitan mills owned by timber merchants. It started to up-grade its technology between the wars. The booming timber market immediately after WWII led to a temporary surge in the number of small mills followed. The industry changed from the 1970s as small, family owned forest mills closed or were taken over by large companies, and as softwood production from pine plantations has replaced hardwood production from native forests. The transient nature of the industry has meant that much of its heritage has been lost.

REFERENCE: Dargavel, J. 2007 Iron, Steel & Timber: A Transient Heritage.  Fourteenth National Engineering Heritage Conference Perth, Australia, 18 September - 21 September 2007.  The Institution of Engineers Australia: Conference Papers.