Online Catalogue last updated 25th of June 2012
When the 2 ft 6 in gauge railway opened to Gembrook in 1900, timber milling became an important industry in the forest to its east. At least sixty sawmill sites were worked, and for some time sawmilling was the largest single employer in the area.
They produced a huge volume of timber, not only to satisfy the needs of metropolitan Melbourne, but also to provide fruit cases for the district's orchard industry.
A fascinating network of tramways fanned to the east and north of the town. Their history is covered in detail, together with the history of the mills that led to their existence, and the people that worked in the industry of lived in the bush at the mills.
Bellbrakes refers to the bell-shaped wooden brake blocks used on the tram trucks, which provided the vital transport link to the railhead. Bullocks often hauled the logs to the mill or tramway landing. Bushmen refers to the people who made it all happen, and whose reminiscences form such an interesting part of the book.
Mike McCarthy has been involved in timber tramway research since 1970. As well as extensive perusal of official records and newspaper files, and numerous site inspections, he has accumulated over 250 hours of recorded interviews with former mill owners and workers.
Code No. 001644, 106 pages, ISBN 0909340331, $26.40