In The Rough


  • Lake Connewarre
  • Carbon Offsets for Timber
  • May Timber Stocks

lake connewarre

Branching from the Bellarine Highway on the Leopold hill, Ash Road is one of several country lanes which take you towards the Connewarre lagoon on the Barwon River waterway. The City of Greater Geelong has recently completed landscape works on a small reserve at the end of the road that gives entry to the shoreline and provides a high view of Lake Connewarre.


Connewarre is in danger of being unapproachable from its many sides - much of the surrounding land is farmland or wetlands - so this amenity has merit. It incorporates a small decked viewing platform, seating and parking. The design team used time-worn wharf and bridge timbers from the Timberzoo archives. Bridge bearers from the historic Wuk Wuk over the Mitchell River are sentinel as posts leading the eye to the shimmer of shallow water on the horizon. There is something of Camelot to this waterway. It seems insubstantial in the distance - lacking the mercurial density of the bay or the river. Not liquid, not vapour, but a phosphorescence that could be either. Across the waters the grove of woodlands that hides Barwon Heads might be Avalon veiled in a salt haze.


Durable Wharfdeck in a 135mm cover used on the viewing dais marries well with these big-section timbers. I like - in particular - the cant of the handrail. Tim Cosgrove from CGG and Tim Nicholas from Tim Nicholas Landscape Architecture have used a broader face in bridge timbers for seating. At Lake Connewarre, the main bench close to the viewing deck is a leitmotif for the project, the shallow set of the angle of view is a pleasing touch of asymmetry. Other beams are a brawny presence on the landscape margin - and these images should be a prod to Bellarine folk to do the same thing in their own coastal gardens. The cheap section in the vast Timberzoo back paddock has $10 to $30 per metre landscape grade sleepers that run to 5 metres in length. What you save there can be spent on a broad seating platform from front yard stocks. Ideal for lunch with a cup of tea in the sun on a solid girder that could have come from the old Barwon Heads Bridge. Yep, we've got that here too.


Cosgrove's favourite timber pieces are used in the retaining wall on the carpark, Sawn split rounds of recycled Turpentine wharf piling face the wall, their otherwise-durable sapwood edges laced with small tunnels forming an intricate natural pattern. The penetrations are the result of years of nibbling by marine teredo worms which burrow only as far as the heartwood margins and squirm sideways into more sapwood. Timberzoo salvaged these piles from recent upgrades to the Cairns wharf in Far North Queensland.

carbon offsets for timber

We stand on the brink of a series of shabby catastrophes about to hit the world of timber and forestry - the trade in carbon credits. It will be a disaster made possible by the inherent difficulties in understanding timber and forests. These everyday complexities - that so frustrate the public in understanding the 20 year forest debate - will be a smokescreen for all sorts of market shenanigans.

I'm not blaming the idea. It is sound enough. It might even be commendable. The Federal Labor initiative supporting home insulation was commendable - as a thesis, rather than a scheme. The potential effect of this initiative on energy use in heating and cooling was direct, measurable and of immediate benefit to the planet. 


Carbon trading in most forms lacks this ability to deliver a direct benefit. It is arcane and riddled with complexity. These schemes are calibrated by independent groups, with the market allowed to find its own mode of participation - which fills me with concern. Why trust the market? The green media is fulsome in its praise for these adventures, but Carbon World enthusiasts tend to hold medal ceremonies before the heats are run. 

Mostly it's the waste. Money finding its way to forest enterprises in Surinam or Patagonia. The logic being: if offsets are cheaper than corrective emissions practices, let's buy them and forego improvements at home. According to people who know what words like 'biosequestration' mean, Australia and China lead the world in carbon emissions. China because it has freed its economy only recently to engage with markets globally, and is having a modern-era Industrial Revolution. Australia because its citizens have a high energy lifestyle for which they are being promised low-pain solutions. I'd like to see offsets, if we must have them, bought locally. With public scrutiny. Definitely not on forests. Remember Timbercorp? Great Southern Plantations?

Rather than wasted in dubious certification fees or commissions to local fixers and village elders in a far corner of the world, why wouldn't we ensure that this money was spent on train stations at Point Cook and Tarneit with trains arriving every 15 minutes, and then count the (reduced) motor vehicle traffic on the Westgate Bridge? Or am I just a mental plodder? Do I just not get it? Not up to these brave new intellectual frontiers? Perhaps I'm guilty of yet another carbon heresy.

Well, here's one market player, Shift2neutral, who has been detected early. Not all future rorters will be so obviously shifty. Nor will they be as inept. They may even be well-intentioned - and waste our money nonetheless. Stand by for lots more nonsense.

may timber stocks


Recycled Douglas Fir

85 x 85mm posts   Rate: $20.00/m
75 x 75mm posts   Rate: $15.00/m

These DAR lengths would suit veranda and carport post applications, but are perfect for table legs and workbenches.

Knotty, nail-marked and carrying the odd bolthole, they have instant rustic appeal.

The batch has some Western Hemlock pieces in a paler tone.



Recycled Red Gum Bridge Bearers

300 x 150mm with Sandblasted Finish   Rate: $120.00/m

No-one fell in love with these 4.0m bridge edges from bridge renewal works in the Nagambie district when they first arrived.
The sun-cracked VicRoads industrial paint, with non-slip grit in a thick application, was a bit daunting for most customers.
Sandblasted, they are a different proposition. On the weather face, the River Red Gum exhibits a deeply-etched
curly grain  that would be in the National Gallery of Victoria if someone other than Nature was the artist. 

Would they make suitable pergola posts? Would they look good as a bench seat?

There are eighty lengths in stock, so call in and see if they suit your project.





Recycled Rounds

400mm Diameter and bigger

 From $150.00 to $305.00 per metre 

You'd be spoilt for choice in Gippsland bridge stringers in the round and some superb Ironbark rounds at
425mm or so in diameter which were salvaged from a rail bridge near Mareeba in Queensland.







Bridge over the Tambo River with main stringers in-the-round.

Recycled Douglas Fir

250 x 25mm   Rate: $30.00/m
220 x 25mm   Rate: $25.00/m

Not your average batch of Douglas Fir, this has been graded for furniture and has fine dense growth lines and rich creamy colours.

Bookshelf projects will appreciate the strength of this timber and its comparatively light weight.

Resawn from the Hardiman Street, Kensington woolstore timbers.