The Wombat State Forest has seen much activity over the years, from heavy mining and logging, to its current status as a place of rejuvenating biodiversity.
Now, one man, Alan Gregg, is calling for expressions of interest for people to come forward to assist him with the design and creation of a memorial for the many bush workers and sawmillers who worked in the forest. He is also looking for assistance with the names of the sawmills in the region as well as the names of the people who worked at them.
Mr Gregg said most people were probably unaware that a big part of Melbourne was built with timber from the region, including the piers at Melbourne’s wharves.
He said a lot of wood was sourced from the Wombat Forest during the 1800’s, where it was cut with axes and crosscut saws before being carted to nearby railways in Macedon and Gisborne, before it was loaded on to railway trucks. Then, it was sent to feed the boilers which fuelled early Melbourne.
“Most of the early roads were built on log timber foundations across swampy areas and the sleepers for the early railways were cut from the forest,” he said. “It was all backbreaking work done by the men and women who worked and lived around the forest. Near all the towns surrounding the forest were sawmill towns.”
Mr Gregg said there were not many people remaining who had once worked in the forest.
“If we don’t do anything about recording these stories now, all this important history will be lost.”
Having grown up with people who worked in the forests, he has always been interested in the diverse stories forest workers had to tell.
“These people should all be remembered for their contribution to the early part of our local history,” he said. “Most men and woman who worked in the bush were lucky to live to 70 years of age because their bodies were worn out through years of hard, manual labour.”
If you are interested in forming a committee to discuss the possibility of a memorial, contact Mr Gregg on 0488068189.