Written by Neville Grace
Possibly except for Russell Granger, I would be the only one still alive that was employed at the Mill.
PS. Sorry about the spelling and writing.
Before I start writing my recollection of the above subject, maybe someone else may come up with more accurate dates and information, however this is my Story.
It was during 1959 when the Borumba Dam was being built that the Forestry decided that a Majestic Red Cedar in a gorge above the dam would become inaccessible when the dam filled. The tree was situated in a deep gorge. The cedar raiders back in 1880-1895 once most likely of it but it would have been impossible to get it to a decent water course to float it down to Maryborough which was the way logs got to Maryborough, the logs were put in creeks and waited for the floods. There is reference in the book on Gympie Gold that in 1893 that hundreds of logs floated down. Interesting in the 1956 flood in Mary River that quite a few logs from those earlier days made an appearance, obviously they were covered over with debris and gravel all those years except for some rot of sap, the logs were in good condition.
Any way back to 1959, Ollie Dwyer must have been approached if he could harvest this giant. Probably he and Bernie Soames would have checked it out as it would mean lowering the TD18 Dozer into the gorge and then forcing the undergrowth. The tree was felled 10 foot up from the base, when felled there were 3 thirty foot logs cut before the first lot of branches. They were snigged to the base of the cliff where another TD18 winched the logs up to the loading ramp. The butt log was a load of its own for the White Truck. I can recall it arriving in the yard of the Mill JW Lutton & Sons.
There was a few people with the cameras, the press and people from the forestry. The truck driver was either Jim Majack or Joe Allford. Even the branches were recovered, some of them were up to 3 foot through. The butt log proved to be a problem to get through the Frame Saw as it was around 12 foot through as it had some spurs on it so these had to be shaved with a chainsaw.
The steam winch laboured, I think that they may of got Newcombs to bring their small dozer down to help get into the position on the frame trolley. Doug Tregoning and ‘Shandy’ Tregnoning operated the frame. It was split into 3 flitches for No 1 bench. Les Durham benchman Don Power and Toby Harris.
The butts of those 3 logs was cut into 18x4 for Alvery Fishing Reels, the rest was cut in various sizes right down to 1x1 for moulding etc. down to lengths 3 foot long. Even the last 30 foot before the branch was about 3 foot 6 inches through. The big lengths of 18x4 were stuffed in the drying shed. I think for about 6 months before transporting to Brisbane. A lot of the smaller sections were purchased by furniture manufacturers around the country. We dressed 12x3 for a residence at the top of the hill down to Noosa heads opposite the hotel. I think it was people by the name of Tacken, they had a motel there. Bob Page from Pomona used to get a lot of smaller size and shorts for his business.
It would have been great if they could of worked the age of that tree. I feel it would have been 4 to 5 hundred years old at least. I would put it in the era of the Giant Red Wood in California. I have a piece of 4x4 about 2foot 6 inches long, maybe one day I will get a couple of candle sticks turned out of it.
That is the story, sorry to be so long winded but writing this brought a lot of memories, some are hazy but not bad for only being 21 at the time,
To add to Nevilles story we sourced this link to show some of the Classic TD18's
Some examples of Slabs and Furniture made of Queensland Red Cedar at Tradeware Building Supplies
The last of the forest giants – Queensland Red Cedar – Story by Mitch O’Mara