Surrey Hills

The pastoralist’s scourge

While researching for my book “Fires, Farms and Forests”, I came across quite a few caterpillar references in the correspondence of the Chief Agents of the Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co.). The caterpillars were killing off improved pastures planted after clearing or logging and scrubbing operations.

The caterpillar problem was not unique to the VDL Co.… Read more

The formation of Bush Watch in Tasmania and its direct links with Surrey Hills

Bush Watch is a community policing initiative which encourages bush users to report unusual or suspicious activities. It was set up like Neighbourhood Watch to deal with the spate of sabotage on equipment, logs etc. 

The Bush Watch idea was first developed by the now defunct Forest Protection Society (FPS). FPS started from humble beginnings in 1987 in frustration at government policies that increasingly destroyed small timber communities and their families.

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A fiery summer in north-west Tasmania

Introduction

The summer of 1933-34 was very dry across most of Australia, including Tasmania. It began a pronounced drought period that lasted until early 1939. 

Victoria had significant bushfires in 1932. “Red Tuesday” on 19 January saw many fires in almost every part of the state, particularly West Gippsland, where nine people died. … Read more

A public spat

In Chapter 6 of my book “Fires, Farms and Forests”, I alluded to the acrimonious relationship between James Norton Smith, the Chief Agent for the Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co.) and William Ritchie, the Chairman of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company (MBTM Co.).

In early 1881, the animosity spread to a public spat, which is fascinating, not least because Ritchie was a partner in the law firm that acted as the VDL Co’s solicitor for their Tasmanian dealings.… Read more

From theodolite and chain to GPS – A surveyor’s journey with AFH, APPM & NFP (part 1) by Mike O’Shea

I am very fortunate to have worked as a surveyor during incredible technological development and advances in this vocation. This blog is in two parts; part one will deal with my early years up to the mid-1980s, and then the second part will cover the changes in personnel and technology that occurred and how they influenced my time.… Read more

AFH’s rough diamond

Terence Alexander Albert Turner, or Snow Turner, was undoubtedly a real character of AFH. Anyone who worked with him between 1960 to 1999, or had anything to do with the company during those years, will know Snow and have a story or two about him. 

While small in stature, stocky and as strong as a moose, he was indeed a larger-than-life figure with a big personality and presence, best known for his colourful language, his pranks on fellow workers and his knowledge of forestry. … Read more

Living on the buttongrass plain – a history of Bulgobac

I grew up in a sawmill town on the edge of the buttongrass plain
Beside a railway track in the town of Bulgobac
Where the locos stop for water from the water tank
It also fed the sawmill and the town of Bulgobac

Gravel roads were twenty miles away and people very few
With mountains all around us with panoramic views
At night we sat at the table to a meal of wallaby stew
And mother read the bible at night by the kerosene light its true

Drivers wait from the loco as it headed south to Boco
On the way north they passed our shack in the town of Bulgobac
I was part of a big family with no power to our home
The times are gone but memories live on living on the buttongrass plain

Mother cooked from a wood fired oven Anzac biscuits she baked by the dozen
Life was tough but we never complained living on the buttongrass plain

I still recall the good old days and how we lived back then
In the sawmill town called Bulgobac growing up on a buttongrass plain
I’ll never forget with no regrets of life way back then
The times are gone but memories live on living on the buttongrass plain
 
The times are gone but memories live on growing up on a buttongrass plain

Mott Ryan “Buttongrass plains” from his CD “The Boy from the Buttongrass Plains”

Introduction

Bulgobac is a small siding on the Emu Bay Railway at the 55 Mile.… Read more

Fishing at the Pulp Dam: some memories and notes from Bob French’s fishing diaries

Bob French has been fishing every year at Talbots Lagoon for nearly 60 years. Although he has a shack at the Great Lake, Talbots has always been his favourite fishing place. Fortunately, Bob has kept records and diaries to document his experiences. He is recognised through the North West Fly Fishers Club as a measurer and collator of statistics on fish caught at Talbots.… Read more

Morris “Mort” Bloom – my career with AFH

This month is a guest blog from Morris “Mort” Bloom.

Some of my most memorable days in the bush were marking road lines with Mort. My role was to source timber mostly from private property for the logging contractors under my supervision. Some were easily accessible across grass paddocks in the summer.… Read more