The Blundstone Big Log Project (Pt I)

An Australian Wooden Boat Festival Initiative (Pt I of III)

The Gathering, Tunnack, South Midlands, Tasmania

Images: © Eric Graudins | BALLANTYNE Photography                                                               Courtesy of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival

In the quiet of early morning, in a mist shrouded field, a crowd began to assemble. It was a motley crew, to find. Two had cameras draped around their necks, two others had axes in hand and a vicious looking saw. Then came a team of bullocks, a video team and a quietly spoken drover. During a cup of tea and a brief chat, others arrived. Greetings exchanged, but it was a wonder what this mob was here to do.

Then unspoken the axemen departed into the bush, followed down a narrow dusty track by the drover and his bullock team. The cameramen and video team buzzed around like bees collecting pollen, occasionally stopping for a juicy nectar stop as they grabbed their shots. Despite this the bullocks progressed steadily into the woods, following the path through deep grasses and closely growing trees.

By now a steady rhythm could be heard. Axes on wood. A tree had been chosen and was being felled. Chop-chop! Chop-chop! Rounding a corner the bullock team and their entourage, came into the clearing to see the axemen take up the double handed saw to complete the felling. As the tree began to fall, there was a brief explosion as midway down it met and shattered the branch of another tree, but finally it came to rest.

Now new tasks started, branches were stripped from the trunk, the trunk cut into two lengths and shoes fitted. All the while the drover quietly negotiated his team, into position.



Harnessed and taking the strain the bullocks dragged the logs using the shoe to skid the front ends over the dirt, into a larger clearing. Here the dray sat waiting, with ramps at the side, ready to roll the logs on to a waiting trestle. Chains rolled out stops prepared.

With logs carefully placed, the bullock team was relocated to roll them on to the dray.

On a quiet command the Bullocks dragged the chains and rolled the first of the logs, up the ramps, into a trestle aboard the dray. In quick order log two was loaded and the bullock team re-hitched to the dray.

A crack of a whip, another heave of bovine muscle, a creak of timbers, a squeak of wheels and the logs were in motion. The beginning of a journey that would see them arrive in Hobart in time for the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2015.

Today had been unique. It was the first time in over 100 years that axe and saw had combined with bullock and dray to harvest timber in Tasmania.

Join us next week for Pt II as the team arrives in Hobart, Tasmania, for the beginning of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2015

With grateful thanks to Brian Fish and Dale Lester for their extraordinary demonstration of Heritage Bush Skills

The Blundstone Big Log Project was an Australian Wooden Boat Festival initiative to illustrate traditional skills and crafts involved in harvesting, manufacturing and shipping timber products over a century ago.

© Robert Oates | BALLANTYNE Photography                                                                          Travel and Events Photography and Editorials

See more of this Heritage demonstration, in our latest Gallery of images





See the Feature Vessels (Tall Ships) at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2015