Loss of Biodiversity

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Loss of Biodiversity

Post by duane » Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:21 pm

Harvesting Cedar

Australian Red Cedar, (Toona ciliata formerly Toona australis), was named for the resemblance of its timber to that of the Cedrus genus, Indian Cedar or the Cedars of Lebanon. Written of in biblical times, regarded as ancient, the Cedars of Lebanon are contemporary with Australia’s Red Cedar, thousands of years old when harvested. The distribution of cedar extends from Ulladulla south of Sydney to far north Queensland, with the best cedar growing on the rich volcanic, alluvial soils of the plateaux in the hinterland of the north coast of New South Wales.
When cedar was discovered in the Hawkesbury and Hunter districts in 1790, the government claimed title and sent in gangs of convicts to cut it. The first export of it as sawn timber was to India in 1795. Shiploads went to England, China, New Zealand, South Africa and Mauritius.
It took only twenty-five years for it to be cut out on the Hawkesbury. By 1815 the cedar getters had moved on to the Hunter. Governor Macquarie was delighted to find another supply at the new settlement at Port Macquarie.
On his instructions three of the Hastings timbers were to be sent to Sydney as back-loading on the ships that came in with supplies: red cedar, rosewood, Dysoxylum fraseranum, and pine, Callitris macleayana (Port Macquarie Pine). Convict timber getters using pit saws cut large quantities that were shipped regularly from Port Macquarie.
In 1824 the well known Simeon Lord, former convict and by then wealthy trader and ship owner, was successful in his tender for the purchase of 300 tons of Port Macquarie cedar at a little less than one and one halfpenny per foot.
Much of the cedar was rafted down the river. In November 1826, Captain (later Major) Innes, Commandant of the settlement, reported that 880 eight-foot cedar logs were lying on the beach at the lumber yard to be sawn. A further 276 eight-foot logs and 20 fifteen-foot logs were at the cedar camp up river awaiting suitable conditions. The river mouth was difficult when strong winds and adverse tides prevailed. A year later, Innes sent a party to investigate the extent of cedar on the next big river to the north. This river was soon to be named the Macleay in honour of the Honourable Alexander Macleay whose daughter Innes married in 1829.
John Verge, the notable architect, had been on the Dorrigo plateau since 1828. The four square miles of land he later took up along the Macleay included a large stand of cedar. Verge, who is buried in Port Macquarie’s Historic Cemetery, was responsible for many large elegant houses in Sydney including Elizabeth House, Tusculum, Lyndhurst and Rockwall which are extant,
By 1830 when Port Macquarie was thrown open to free settlement the most easily accessible cedar had been cut out by the convict gangs. Those who arrived by ship seeking cedar soon moved north to the Macleay and farther on to the rich and accessible pickings of the Clarence and the Richmond districts. The cedar in the Camden Haven valley had been temporarily overlooked.
Then surveyors for the Australian Agricultural Company, exploring the waterway there hoping for a connection with the Manning River that would provide safer passage, noted the timber riches of the area and were quickly followed by others from the south. By 1856 ships were calling in to the Camden Haven specifically to pick up cedar. They dumped their ballast of Sydney sandstone before proceeding upriver to present-day Kendall where the first organised timber milling is said to have taken place as early as the 1860s.
As wholesale clearing took place in areas such as the Comboyne, the use of cedar became indiscriminate. Whole houses were built of it, public buildings, fine furniture, packing cases, paling fences, farm buildings. There was so much of it that it could be used as deal. Those who used it in this way did so for its ease of working rather than for the beauty so sought after by others.
The cedar getters developed a special technique. Crosscut saw, axe, standing boards were their only equipment. Cedars are buttressed, the bases are often hollow, so they felled them at heights up to six metres off the ground. They would cut a slot about shoulder height – they called it a scaffold hold – drive in a board, stand on it, cut the next slot and drive in another board, perhaps another and another. Since boards were awkward to carry through the bush, many used one board only. After they had cut the second slot they would cut a toe hold to stand in while they moved the board up. Getting down as the tree was beginning to fall required great dexterity.

Pit Sawing at Comboyne c 1906,
exactly the same method used by the first convict cedar getters
Photograph Port Macquarie Historical Society

Attention turned to the valuable hardwoods of the area in the latter part of the nineteenth century and, with occasional exceptions, the last of the great cedar trees remained in their hidden gullies and gorges.
In the 1930s two things combined to reinstate its harvesting. The first was the increase in mechanisation which allowed men to get into areas within the forests previously denied them – bullocks and horses were replaced by petrol and steam driven log haulers– and the other was the obsession of one man, Bill Haydon who became known as the Cedar King.
There were many other timbers that Haydon harvested and milled. There were others cedar getters, Vernon McLeod of the Camden Haven among them. But it was Haydon’s passion for cedar, his determination and his audacity that marked him for greater recognition.
Haydon first of all drew cedar along the Oxley Highway to the west of Wauchope and from Bellangry where he and his team also drew White Beech and Mountain Ash. They moved for a while to the Macleay district to the north. But the 1930s depression affected the market for these fine timbers and for more than a decade Haydon turned his skills to harvesting and milling the major hardwoods and softwoods of the area.
In 1940, the Forestry Commission were charging royalty of £7 per 100 superfeet for cedar. When drawing cedar, one might snig a log seven miles with a tractor, then cart it sixty miles to a mill. As the royalty was still £7 irrespective of the distance the log had to be taken, it didn’t pay the logger to go back for the smaller log and so it was left to waste.
Following World War II the demand for cedar accelerated. NSW Railways were rebuilding their rolling stock and cedar was required for the inside of the carriages. Unlike other timbers, when cedar is butted against cedar it does not squeak, a valuable attribute in a constantly moving railway carriage. Bill Haydon had a twenty year contract to supply cedar to New South Wales Railways.
He also supplied cedar to Thurlings Joinery Works in Port Macquarie where windows, architraves and fine furniture was made. His own home was a showpiece of the rich mellow timber.

Bill Haydon felling a giant red cedar tree
Photograph Wauchope Historical Society

For most of the very wet year of 1954 Haydon hauled cedar out of deep gorges at Kangaroo Flat at Yarrowitch, on the headwaters of the Hastings and Forbes Rivers. He used two crawler tractors, often lowering one over a cliff to attach the logs and using the second to winch up both logs and tractor.
During the 1950s Bill Haydon had the foresight to employ Earl McNeil, still and movie photographer, to record his team of cedar getters in action.

Hauling a giant cedar log up a cliff face
Photograph Wauchope Historical Society

Bill Haydon snigging cedar with one of his crawler tractors
Photograph Wauchope Historical Society

Fourteen trucks carry the cedar from Kangaroo Flat to Wauchope
Photograph Wauchope Historical Society

Click on http://www.timbertown.com.au/pages.asp?code=108 to see images

I have posted this blog to show how we humans have methodically taken everything from this landscape with no forethought to future generations. Australias once magnificent biodiversity is GONE...forever. Nature will replace it a NEW ecosytem as it has done since time began.

Posts: 1160
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW

Post by duane » Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:40 pm

Will WE ever see this scene AGAIN??????Taken from http://www.timbertown.com.au/pages.asp?code=105

Recording The First European Impressions Of The Country

In 1770 James Cook recorded impressions of the country from the sea. On Saturday 12 May 1770 as he passed east of what is now the Camden Haven, Cook recorded in his private log

Several smoaks seen along shore… 3 hills laying near the shore and contiguous to each other… These hills I have call’d the 3 Brothers…

From the deck of Investigator in 1802 Matthew Flinders noted

… ranges of high woody hills.

The first recording of observations on land was made by John Oxley in 1818. He was nearing the end of the arduous journey that had taken him in a great arc north-west of Sydney, through the Macquarie Marshes, the Warrumbungle Mountains and the Liverpool Plains. He commemorated his first sighting of the sea by naming a peak, in the steep country west of Wauchope, Sea View Mount. (The peak named Mt Seaview on modern maps is farther east, Oxley may have been on what is now called Mt Kokomerican.) Whichever peak it was, his delight at reaching this point is palpable:

...We could distinctly hear, during the night, the murmurs of the surf on the beach, and the sound was most grateful to our ears, as the welcome harbinger of the point to which eighteen weeks of anxious pilgrimage had been directed.

Oxley gave the name Hastings to the river he could see but whose course he had not yet defined.

On October 3, 1818 he recorded:

Soon after daylight, accompanied by the botanist, I returned to the peaked hill, leaving the horses with Mr Evans to proceed to the north-east. Certainly a more beautiful and interesting view is not often seen. The spacious valley, through which the river flowed, extends along the coast from Smoaky Cape to the Three Brothers, and its width north of me was above eight miles, gradually narrowing to the base of Sea View Mount where we first entered it... To the north of the river, a few miles from it, appeared lagoons, or swamps, probably having some beach communication with the sea. Another large lake was also seen to the south-east, under the Three Brothers.

During the next few days Oxley's party explored the rivers and creeks. One of the party, botanist Charles Fraser, collected hundreds of specimens. He was excited by the variety of timber:

red cedar, blue gum, stringy bark, iron bark and forest oak…white cedar, mahogany, tulipwood, rosewood, ironwood, sassafras, corkwood, the Australian tamarind, box and a variety of the myrtle genus.

Oxley 'detained' a canoe to assist their explorations from two Aboriginal men who had been using it for fishing. On 12 October they

quitted Port Macquarie at an early hour on our course homewards with all those feelings which that word even in the wilds of Australia can inspire... After travelling near fifteen miles we stopped at the extremity of a sandy beach on a point of good land with an excellent spring rising from it, about four miles north of the northernmost of the Three Brothers...

The following day he wrote:

Crossing the point of land on which we had been encamped we came to a sandy beach on which we travelled three and a half miles. At the end of it was an opening safe for boats, (and probably for small craft at high water), into an extensive lake. As we had no canoe by which to cross over we were obliged to keep along its north shore with an intention of going round it. The lake formed a large basin with a deep channel which, as it approached the base of the northern Brother narrowed into a river like form and in the course of a mile it again expanded from the north-north-west to the south-west to a very great extent. The land on its eastern side was low and marshy (fresh water). To the north and north-west it was bounded by low forest hills covered with luxuriant grass, and to the southward and south-west extended along apparently the same description of country, nearly to the western base of the Second Brother. The ranges of high woody hills laid down by Captain Flinders dwindle when approached into low unconnected forest hills. The Northern Brother, the highest of the three, is a long hill of moderate elevation, and is seen from such a distance in consequence of the other parts of the country being comparatively low. The timber was chiefly black butted gum, stringy bark, turpentine tree, and forest oak. The stones are chiefly a hard sandstone. On the lake were a great number of black swans, ducks, etc. Various small inlets from the lake much impeded us, and after travelling near seven miles along its shores we halted for the evening near a small spring of fresh water in a good rising grass country.

With his party Oxley spent several days trying to find a way around the extensive waterways of the 'haven' he named for Lord Camden.

The higher lands abound with good timber, the points nearer the sea being covered with Banksia integrifolia of large dimensions, fit for any boat timber... We saw the large lake under the Brothers from a high point on the coast very clearly, and found that on the north it was bounded by the North Brother, and separated from the sea by a strip of low marshy land about three quarters of a mile wide. The lake I think is a fresh water one: it was named Watson Taylors Lake. The land west and southerly of the Brothers consisted of low forest hills, and a range of hills of moderate height, the entrance of which bore west-south-west distant twenty or twenty-five miles ended near Cape Hawke, the country being to that range very low with marshes.

They observed canoes being made and people fishing from them in the estuary and lakes. Eschewing the idea of 'detaining' a canoe on this occasion, they eventually constructed a makeshift one of their own of which Oxley said ruefully:

I think if the natives saw it they would ridicule our rude attempts.
Oxley came back to survey the area with Phillip Parker King in 1819. King was a wonderful observer, his narrative of the survey is very descriptive. Near Rawdon Island he recorded:

Among the trees, we noticed the Trichillia genus, which the Colonists have flattered with the name of Rosewood, and a Ficus of gigantic growth, both of which are abundant…fine open country, well-timbered, richly clothed with luxuriant growth, and frequented by kangaroos…

Indigenous people gave them assistance to re-launch their whaleboat so that they could move on to King’s River where Oxley was surprised at how quickly his tracks of the previous year had been obliterated by the vigorous rainforest. Botanist Allan Cunningham, exploring in another boat to collect plants, joined them there. King sketched the Hastings River at its junction with King’s River. Of the Trichillia and Ficus, he wrote:

All were intricately connected with each other by climbing plants, which grow to an incredible size, and hang down in clusters from the summit to the root of the tree, tending to beautify the richness of the scene.

He described the hill on the south side of the entrance

…covered with a profusion of herbage and studded with groups of Banksia, which the Colonists call ‘Honeysuckle’, the wood of which is useful in ship-building on account of the crooked growth of its stem…

King was quick to note the cedar, already ruthlessly harvested on the Hawkesbury. Along the banks of the river, the dense brush contained many enormous trees.

These, being covered with parasitical plants and creepers of gigantic size, made the forest almost impervious. It is in the brushes that the Rosewood and Cedar trees grow, and also the Figtree, which is of immense size and remarkable for having its roots protruding from the base of the stem, like huge buttresses, to the distance of several yards.

He commented on the use of trees by the local people:

The canoes were merely sheets of bark, with the ends slightly gathered up to form a shallow concavity, in which the natives stood and propelled them by means of poles… The native huts were more substantially built and contained 8 or 10 persons. They were arched over to form a dome with the opening on the land side, enabling them to be screened from the cold sea winds, which were generally accompanied by rain.

During his November 1821 visit, Governor Macquarie went by water to see a large tract of open forest on alluvial land between the river and the creek. The quality of the grasses persuaded him that it was the most suitable place for agriculture. The land did not require large scale clearing. He named the area Allman’s Plains, a name which disappeared when it became known as Settlement Farm.
Macquarie recorded some impressions of the trees and the timber:

The whole of the river… is very finely wooded on both banks… we saw some natives at a distance, but we were not near enough to speak to them. They have lately manifested a very hostile spirit towards our people here, by frequently throwing spears at the men employed up the river in procuring rose-wood & cedar, on one of which occasions a very useful man was killed, by a spear passing through his body…

Macquarie was soon to leave the colony and was collecting mementoes to take home with him. He inspected:

…a very fine raft of 22 logs of cedar & 1 large one of rose-wood, brought down by McManus the overseer of the wood cutters yesterday… The cedar is large and of excellent quality. The rose-wood log is 15 feet long, and 2½ feet in diameter. I have ordered two of the largest logs that can be found of rose-wood and cedar to be cut down and sent me up to Sydney for carrying home with me as specimens of the wood of Port Macquarie.

Surveyor Henry Dangar, however, was less impressed with the country and recorded his thoughts in his 1828 Index & Directory. Dangar disagreed with much of Oxley’s description, finding the countryside ‘infirm’ in many places and not worth the cost of clearing:

… Having in the course of my official duties, visited Port Macquarie and the Hastings river, I shall not be out of place in noticing these parts. This is the place I have before spoken of as being that to which the convicts under colonial sentences were removed, when the river Hunter was opened to settlers, in 1822; and which has continued its penal character ever since. It was anticipated by Wentworth, in his last addition of 1824, that this place would be speedily open to emigrants…
I am much less sanguine in my opinion of the good qualities of the land on this river, than Mr Wentworth and Mr Oxley; the latter gentleman having, in his journal of 1818, expatiated largely on it. The general character of the country in this neighbourhood is a large proportion of rich alluvial land upon the banks of streams, but infirm to that on the Hawksbury and Hunter’s rivers.
This description of country is heavily timbered; its great richness producing, independent of forest trees, a burthensome jungle, causing an expense to clear it of from four to five pounds an acre.
Where this part of the colony fails to be as desirable as most other parts, is in the character of the upland country, which is almost wholly of an inferior second class nature. The hills rise abruptly, and become elevated at a short distance from the streams, being in some places rocky, and generally wanting in a proper depth of soil to be productive in herbage. There appears to be a continued succession (for a considerable distance) of this elevated infirm country; and there is no prospect of an outlet to Liverpool plains, as from Hunter’s river…
It is necessary to explain the colonial term of “brush land” being that which is situated on the banks of, and running parallel to rivers. This land is alluvial, and from its excessive richness, produces larger and heavier timber than other lands, and also a thick jungle, or underwood; hence the term “brush land” is used...

In 1830-31, Surveyor S.A. Perry recorded his impressions of the timbered country in his journal. On a journey with Major Innes to Blackman’s Point and the Government farms beyond Ballingarra and Crotty’s Plains he noted, on 4 November 1830:

…Most of the country through which we passed to these points resembled extensive parks, the ground being gently undulating – thinly timbered without underwood - the bottoms rich alluvial land, the whole covered with grass…

The following day he

…Left the settlement accompanied by a black native… the country through which I passed is fine open Forest country, moderately undulating and thinly timbered without underwood.

On 8 November

…After breakfast I reconnoitred the ground for the Township of Hay [present day Sancrox] which will make a most splendid first rate city (at present it bears the appearance of a great park). The ground swells in broad gentle undulations very thinly timbered and originating from a high point on the E. line, so that clearing and tracing of the streets would be performed in a very short time… Timber chiefly Gum, oak and stringy bark and without underwood except on the immediate banks of the R. and creeks…

Everywhere Perry and Surveyor Ralfe travelled, they were assisted by aboriginal people. Crossing a difficult creek after rain, one of their bullocks fell into a deep hole in the stream… nothing but the prompt and effective actions of a black saved me from falling in after him… our men used every exertion and assisted by 6 aboriginal natives with their tomahawks and implements of war, cut a passage…

Dangar Henry: Index and Directory, London, Joseph Cross, 18, Holborn. 1828
King Phillip Parker: Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia, London 1826
Lieutenant Cook’s Private Log, 12 May 1770, ML. SLNSW
Macquarie Lachlan: Lachlan Macquarie Journal of His Tours in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, 1810 – 1822. Facsimile Edition, Public Library of Sydney, 1956.
Oxley John: Journals of Two Expeditions into the Interior of New South Wales, Murray, London 1820
Perry Samuel Augustus: Typescript copy of his Journal 3rd Nov. 1830 to 9th Feb 1831

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