Logging the Cedar
The conquest of the Big Scrub by the first settlers suggests that something more might be recorded of the industry with which they were for so long identified “The Machine Worker” an English magazine of august last, contains a well authenticated article entitled “The Romance of the Red Cedar” which embodies a very accurate description. And account of this most beautiful of of Australian softwoods. In this publication it is pointed out that “ this most valuable of all Commonwealth timbers is rapidly approaching extinction. It is the highest priced wood today and the price is increasing in the ratio of the scarcity. It is a timber restricted to to a very small area and not found on more than 50000 miles of the east coast, from Illawarra to the Bloomfield River, near Cooktown (Qld). It grows nowhere west of the Dividing Range and is unknown south of Illawarra or north of Cooktown or in any of the other states”.
The journal goes on to say: The cedar was first found in the scrubs of Illawarra and there it was first cut by convict labor.... Following Illawarra it was cut in the scrubs of Hawkesbury and Hunter and then ticket-of-leave men moved gradually norther to all the rivers as far as Bellingen. When Captain Rous of the HMAS Rainbow, discovered and named the Richmond and Clarence on his way from Moreton Bay to Sydney in 1828 his health was tested at the Parramatta Races in honor of the event. In 1836 two men named Cole and Phillips built a small schooner from red cedar at what is now south Grafton. Some of the runaway convict from Port Macquarie found a sanctuary among the pioneer cedar cutters on the Clarence and Richmond. Some were killed by the blacks and a small number managed to reach Moreton Bay or Ipswich....Next to the Clarence and Richmond came cedar cutting in the Tweed about 1844. The biggest patches of cedar in Australia, the biggest tress, and the best and most beautiful timber, came from the Big Scrub on the Richmond River and the Atherton Tableland behind Cairns.