Letters to the Editor – January 16 2024

Native forests provided opportunities

Philip Hopkins’ article in the Gippsland Times on January 9 (‘A Railway journey back in time’ pages 6-7′) regards Nick Anchen’s new book and the use of forest products to build railway bridges and train tracks is just one of many instances how our native forests gave for the young country of Australia and the opportunity of a better life for those who migrated to this new land.

From early times the need for railway sleepers, bridge beams, long poles for bridges, electricity, communications, masts for tall sailing ships who became damaged coming to Australia, our forests stepped up and gave. Other countries like India, Britain, Africa, railway sleepers and beams, our native forests gave. Our mining industry needed mine props and large beams, our forests gave. Our native forest were asked to give sawlogs for sawmills to produce building timbers to build our cities and towns, the continual urgent need for Red Gum paving blocks for the streets of Melbourne as the mud oozed up and covered the previous pavers (a large part of the city is built on a wetlands). Interesting when the authorities decided to replace the wooded pavers some were pushed down into the mud 2.5 metres deep, there would have been thousands of tonnes pulled up, most went to firewood for Melbourne households.

Our native timbers were called on the build train and tram carriages, stage coaches, large steamers, barges and ferries to move people and supplies in the cities and to supply goods and food to the cities and towns, firewood fuel for our homes, hospitals, bakeries industry, our native forests gave willingly. Because native forests cover a large area there was little recognition the forests was replacing itself.

The sawmills were many but mostly small concerns by todays size of sawmills, all cutting timber for the towns and cities and industry. All the major transport corridors whether it was rail road or water led to the cities. There were many timber towns scattered around the country. All up the east coast of Australia there where many boat building enterprises using our native timbers and the need to gain skills to use our hardwoods. It was similar to the sawmilling industry, a new set of skills had to be learnt to assess a log before attempting to cut special beams and timber. These skills seem only recognised in the timber industry. We honour with words, song and poetry our stock and horse men and women, our gold miners and their large nuggets, our doctors and scientists, pastoralists.

Not a word or song of the highly-skilled benchman who turned up each day and cut timber for our cities and towns, it was he alone the key to the sawmill output without him or the backup benchman the sawmill was a worthless piece of scrap metal. This bloke who sometimes, a little rough around the edges was the hero supplying the Australian people a much needed building product from a renewable resource. The native forests have been gradually closed down with National Parks, wildlife, habitat zones to a small portion left for timber and it has been closed, and it pleasing to see there is still a thriving native forest in this little patch.

Maurie Killeen,



Sad state of timber industry

After reading your reports of the sad and sorry state of the timber industry and communities, I had this awful feeling that we are losing so much of our heritage and common sense. About the only species that received no consideration was the human variety.

Our country has been blessed with not only plenty of timber, but coal, iron ore, uranium and multiple other minerals, (but we can’t use them because some experts said to do that would be bad for something or other), we have in the the past three months, received more rain than even the greatest sceptic could have imagined. But have we saved one extra drop to alleviate the next drought period? Of course not, didn’t you know that peaceful and full dams can give us the water we need! But no! Those dam experts are at it again. We have not built a new dam since the Thompson was completed around 1989.

So now we have to import timber from America as well as small countries like Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. What does it matter if they have to denude their forests and damage their environment as long as we don’t go short!

Add the goings on by the Albanese Labor Government. Asked by our American friends to provide one ship to help protect our trade routes, we smacked them in the face and refused. Hopefully they don’t remember if we are confronted with a real crisis. Our defence capability is hardly fit to repel an invasion by even the smallest but determined enemy. But what does that matter? Two of the worst terrorist groups, Communist China and Hamas, applauded our decision.

No wonder I get this awful feeling that we don’t deserve to have this beautiful country.

P.J O’Brien,



Australia Day activism

Clearly there are many aspects to the activism directed to cancelling Australia Day. Those of us who attended pre-war primary school will recall receiving a personal copy of the Union Jack to remind us of our European history. Shortly before the start of the war, I had a friend who had escaped with his family from Europe to avoid Nazi persecution of the Jews. As the war progressed the emphasis shifted to the Pacific and from, Australia’s point of view, to New Guinea.

Yet people are keen to know their personal history. In his regard the Scriptures recall that God made the world, but then made only two people directly. Subsequently personal creation was vested in the family, and that is where our personal history began.

John Cooney,