Guildford Junction

Extending the railway to the west coast

Introduction

In my book “Fires, Farms and Forests”, I dedicated a chapter to outline the construction of a horse-drawn wooden tramway in the mid-late 1870s. The chapter focused on the monumental task of constructing 74 kilometres of a new line through some sections of dense rainforest, all cleared by hand.

As I wrote in the book, I believe it is the longest wooden tramway built in the world.

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The Hills of Surrey Hills

When writing the book on the history of Surrey Hills, many people worked at AFH who were not mentioned but deserved praise for their contributions. 

One of those was Ross Hills, a Burnie local who rose to a senior position in AFH. As a manager at Burnie during the 1980s, Ross was part of expanding the eucalypt plantation program.… Read more

More memories of growing up in Guildford

Almost all the kids that grew up in Guildford Junction recall there was something magical about their experience. Whether it’s the memories of their one-room school and teachers, the adventures in their big surrounding playground called the bush, the snakes, the cold and the snow, the isolation, the waratahs in flower or just the scented lupin paddocks dotted around the town.… Read more

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

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

Re-enacting Muddy Creek picnic and sports day

In Chapter 10 of my book, Fires, Farms and Forests, I outlined a fantastic summer picnic and sporting carnival held on Surrey Hills from 1922 until 1930. A picturesque location immediately adjacent to the Emu Bay Railway (EBR) line, just outside Guildford Junction, was the chosen site and it became known as the Muddy Creek sports ground.… Read more

The unsung and all-but-forgotten exploits of stockman Donald Campbell Atkinson

Donald Campbell Atkinson was a brilliant and expert horseman who learnt his craft on Surrey Hills during the twentieth century while grazing 2,000 head of cattle. Fortunately, his son, Lindsay, wrote a couple of unpublished memoirs which beautifully capture some of Donald’s accomplishments and amazing adventures. The first, written in 1994, was titled “A few notes about my father’s family”.… Read more

Picking the eyes out of Surrey Hills

This blog has involved many hours researching historical deeds and has taken a long time to put together. It has been challenging to access information while travelling full-time, well away from Tasmania.

I have called upon others to assist me in completing this story. Thank you to Brian Rollins for his patience and kindly sharing information on how to work through the historical Tasmanian title index cards and historical deeds, all found online.… Read more

Heading for “The Gates”: memories of the old Hampshire gatehouse

I didn’t provide any coverage of the gatekeepers in the book “Fires, Farms and Forests”, as I had limited information at the time. And yet, you couldn’t tell a story about Surrey Hills and AFH without mentioning the gatekeepers. 

Back in the 1950s, the Ridgley Highway didn’t exist. You could only get to Waratah via the Murchison Highway through the Hellyer Gorge and then onto Guildford Junction.… Read more