The Cockle Creek Recherche Bay Story
The True History of Logging in this Southern Forest Area from the late 1800's to 1940.


The Truth the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. For a change !

This web page has been constructed to give a true account of what went on in the area around Cockle Creek and Recherche Bay as regards logging. Unfortunately, people who have a definite hidden agenda have conjured up a totally incorrect 'story' to stop commercial logging of the sustainable valuable resource we have in Tasmania.

The area from Geeveston south  has a fascinating history showing the land can and has provided sustainable logging over the past 100 years and that the area is in no way unlogged Pristine Wilderness as 'The Greens' would try to make people think. Irrefutable recorded evidence shown in the area's history clearly shows this. To say the to say the area has not been logged in the past is simply now true.e areas are basically old growth wilderness is a massive twisting of the truth i.e.. a blatant deliberate lie!

A Brief History of the Area's as shown in Images of the Past.

Most of this material was compiled as a project by cavenering group student of the New Town High School in 1978. An attempt has been made to give a very brief outline of the history of the area, the way by which timber was won from the forests and a pictorial record of places and processes now decayed or long forgotten.
The material has been revamped by me, Mike Jagoe their teacher - now retired.

Logging.
The timber-getters of the 1800's and early 1900's did not have the bulldozers. and log-skidders of the modern loggers: the bullock or horse teams and with the coming of steam, the steam winch or log hauler were the only means of getting the huge forest giants out of the bush. The early sawyers and splitters used the timber for shingles, palings, post and rails, staves and piles: later with the larger sawmills, vast amounts of timber was cut and exported all over the world.

Pit Sawing.
Before the advent of modern machines the huge trees were 'pit-sawn'. The trees were felled, a trench or pit was dug alongside the trunk, timber skids were place over the pit and the log was rolled on to them.
Special pit saws were used to cut the log along it's length into planks - not a pleasant job for the fellow in the pit. He would get covered in sawdust and often stood knee deep in water and mud.
The beams for the first Huon River bridge at Huonville, 90 feet long by 12"x18" and free from heart wood and sap wood were cut from the forests near Franklin.

The Piners (Huon Pine Loggers)
During the 1840's to 1860's the Piners logged the Huon and Picton rivers for the valued Huon Pine logs. They took their keelless boats up the rivers, cut the pines that grew (to winter flood level) on the river bank and wait for the winter rains and floods to carry them down to Huonville, following behind in their boats. In the 1860's Huon Pine was selling for 8 to 12 shillings (80c to $1.20) per 100 super feet, with reductions for imperfections etc. Small Huon Pines can still be seen growing on the banks or the Huon River above the Huon Bridge. (The average wage of a farm labour in 1850 was about 
15 shillings per week.)

Logging Tramways.
With the coming of steam and the steam engine, the age of the timber tramways came into being. Miles of little 'tramways' extended out into the hilly timber leases. The major lines, many with iron rails together with their wooded-railed spur lines penetrated down beyond Catarmaran and well into the hinterland to the west.

 Squaring blue gum piles with broad axes.  A bush log hauler - notice the signal bell.
 Steam train hauling timber - Geeveston area.  Tramway under construction near Strathblane Mill.

The huge steam winched complete with their even larger boilers winched themselves along the newly constructed tramways, stopping to haul the logs from the surrounding hills to the tramways. Here they were loaded on to waiting trolleys or simply fitted with wheels and drawn by horses down to the mill. Larger main lines often has small steam locomotives to transport the logs. When the area was cleared of timber, the tramway was extended into forest and the log hauler winched itself along the new section to extend it's steel cable hundreds of meters into uncut area, once again hauling the logs to the tramway.
These historic little tramways are almost totally overgrown, burnt out or roads now follow their paths. The Four Foot and Six Foot roads near Geeveston follow the paths of four foot and six food timber tramways that once brought timber to the town.
The Lune River sawmill tramway, iron rails still intact in places, cuts the road at Lune River just below the Ida Bay Tourist Railway and can be followed along the plain until it is virtually lost in thick cutting grass and tea tree and scrub.
Huge boilers, steam winches, trolley wheels and rails can be literally stumbled over in what is now deep, thick regrowth forest. This machinery tells of a bygo.ne age almost forgotten.

Winch and horse team - near Leprena  Strathblane Sawmill Single Piston Steam Engine
Leprena about 1908 Timber workers near Hastings
Oxen hauling a squared beam Dover Wharf
Sawmill picnic outing near Dover.  'Kennedy' Steam Winch. Lune River Mill spur line 1976.
Catamaran Sawmill 1908 Catamaran Township 1908

The Saw Mills.
Prior to about the 1870's saw milling in the area was on a small scale and only conducted around the coastal areas. Catamaran and Cockle Creek had been settled for some time; mainly by fisherman and whalers. The main Hobart to Huonville road was not opened until 1855 and the road to Geeveston and Dover was built abound 1883. Prior to that time the main mode of transport was by sea. 
Records of the mills in the area are poor. Mills were often burnt out or moved as the timber became scarce. However, large mills using steam power were operation at Ramsgate (Cockle Creek), Catamaran, Moss Glen (the Pig Sty), Leprina, Lune River, Hastings, Southport, Strathblane, Raminea, Hopetuon and Geeveston in the early 1900's. Olds steam engines and their boilers could once be seen near Strathblane but these were removed and totally repairs by Jim Casey. They were exhibited as working displays t Casey Steam Museum at Dover (now unfortunately closed).
Only a few remnants of rusting boilers and engines can be seen at Cockle Creek (Ramsgate) and other places to spur the imagination as to the activities that when on in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Over two thousand people worked in this southern region at that time.

 
                                           Catamaran Coal Mine                                                                                Ida Bay Colliery  

 


Thank you,

Mike

Links

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Cygnet Mining History

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