THE ONLY THING THAT HAS NOT CHANGED IN FORESTRY OVER THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS IS THE
FEELING OF CAMARADERIE AND MATESHIP AMONGST THOSE WHO WORK IN THE TIMBER INDUSTRY.
THE TERM MATESHIP CONJURES IMAGES OF UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT AMID THE TOUGHEST OF
CONDITIONS; TWO THINGS THE NSW FORESTS HAVE IN SPADES.
The early working forests were the place for men who enjoyed hard work and who worked
to the rhythms of the bush. He was almost always a male of strong character and physical
strength; a proud hard man. In a few instances, his family came to the bush with him living
in tents providing their son, husband or father with some form of comfort and normality.
These families often settled in the early villages or farms on the fringes of the forests. Some
working in the forest today can trace their origins back to these early times.
The forests were also the place where connections were formed; among men and
between men and nature. The early axe teams were sent in to clear the bush and master the
tall beasts. They relied on their mates for their lives and their livelihoods. Skills were honed
on the job, where mistakes could be deadly. This life and death existence saw the formation
of bonds between the workers that were as strong as the love they held for the forests.
The forests played an important part in the re-integration of many returned servicemen
after World War II. The forests provided workplaces and training for the men. Some of the
photographs taken in the late 1940s could have been taken in a theatre of war; with men
relaxing as one for a meal, laughing and sharing a ‘yarn’. Their new lives in the forests
provided a glimmer of hope that the physical activity and mateship would help them heal
from the horrors of war.
Today’s foresters come to the industry with a passion for the forest. They do more than
fell the tree. They balance community expectations, manage current and future timber
production, and biodiversity, all while achieving conservation and environmental outcomes.
The role is multifaceted with many rewards; such as being part of a team with a long history
and being responsible for the forests of the future.
Not only have the forests flourished but so have the towns in the timber regions and the
Forestry Corporation has been an integral part of local communities for a century. Hundreds
of thousands of people and their communities share boundaries with neighbouring working
forests. As these exquisite historical photographs demonstrate, forestry has always been
a family and community business. Forestry Corporation itself and the many businesses
involved in harvesting, haulage, timber milling and other aspects of forest management have
long seen generations of families working side by side in the forest and in the communities
that rely on them.