Allies Creek Sawmill is in the Western region of Queensland forests, upriver on the Burnett in high plateau country that is part of a fragmented Great Dividing Range. The nearest town,
Mundubbera, about 400kms north of Brisbane, lays in the shadow of a large fibreglass Honey Murcott mandarin. This is rich soil country, growing citrus fruits, pecans and avocadoes.
Truck and tracked vehicle technologies were a legacy of this war and they made logging possible on a scale that allowed hardwood sawmilling to become an industry. When Allies Creek sawmill was built by his
father, John Crooke knew it as a town - and the very centre of his universe. Eighteen houses, a school and an accommodation block, alone in the vastness of a state forest reserve. After school hours, there was the bush, gullies and creeks to play in.
As he reminisces, John talks in an endless
stream-of-memory that dawdles for a moment when facts grey, but revives as he recalls a colourful moment. Around him friends and colleagues listen happily, and it seems to a visitor that it is like a requiem. Friends gathered in a comforting phalanx and the outpouring of a remembered life as a necessary ritual to contain melancholy.
The closure of Allies Creek is part of a review of forestry in Queensland being undertaken by Anna
Bligh's government. The continuation of a process begun under Peter Beattie to lock up more of Queenslands state forest hardwood reserves. Times and societies change. Sometimes industries can make changes too. Other times they are misled by governments or are served up as a public offering by sudden policy making that seeks to assuage modern urban sensitivities.
In Allies Creek to attend the clearing sale at the sawmill, I was nevertheless moved by this moment of change. Queenslanders in these parts are friendly, direct people. They take you readily into their confidence and their company after a short assessment, even if you donít have a sweat-stained rabbit felt hat.
By nature, a progressive, as I grow older I better understand the essential nature of conservatism. There are things now lost that I find a yearning for - and institutions lingering that I'd hate to lose. John Crooke, his father and his son are an important part of the tradition of hardwood sawmilling in Australia. There exists no parallel or alternative history the politically-correct can belong to.
There may be a defined shift in focus and outlook on native hardwood sawmilling on my own part from the generation that went before me, but I'd be proud to belong to a continuum of adventurous men who have worked hard, striven for quality and involved many lives in their enterprise.
Messmate Posts 120mm x 120mm rate $60.00/m
We may have to trust the Rudd government and the Liberal Party on the Carbon Sinks legislation. It worries me that intelligent heads like Christine Milne and Barnaby Joyce are so bothered with the lack of specifics, lack of detail and the looseness of the tax provisions in the legislation. Rudd and Turnbull understand tax breaks but do they understand