FCV Sawmills


In 1920 the FCV purchased a sawmill near Nayook

"Early in 1920 the Commission, with Government's approval, purchased a saw-mill, with the rights to a fine stand of mature mountain ash and messmate timber. Cutting operations commenced on 10th March, and after the inevitable disturbance of the transition period had been overcome, work proceeded smoothly on the whole. Truck shortage occasioned difficulties in getting timber away during the period under review, resulting in considerable stocks being accumulated at the mill, but the general state of affairs appears satisfactory for a new undertaking. Minor improvements to be effected during the current financial year are expected to increase the output and facilitate more complete utilization of the trees felled." (FCV Annual Report 1919-1920)

The mill remaind in the original location until 1922 when it was moved two to three kilometres to the east. It remained at this new site until 1930.

The FCV established a new sawmill at Erica in 1940

From 1930 to 1940 there was no State Mill, but in 1940:

"In furtherance of the Salvage Plan, the Commission established a sawmill in proximity to the township of Erica to expedite the utilization of large quantities of fire-killed timber in the Thomson Valley and at the same time assist in supplying sawn timber to fulfil urgent Defence and Government orders. An up-to-date milling plant was erected and is now in full operation. The plant comprises twin breaking-down saws, two rip benches, and a swing docker. An extension of the Victorian Railways narrow gauge line from Erica railway station was constructed into the mill yard to permit of loading timber direct from the skids into railway trucks. Logs are transported to the mill over the Commission's steel tramway, the haulage units being two Diesel locomotives purchased and operated by the Commission. The output of sawn timber during the first six months' operations to 30th June totalled 424,268 superficial feet." (FCV Annual Report 1940-1941)

Financial statements for the Mill ceased to appear in FCV Annual Reports after 1966/67 so it probably closed around that time.

Why did the FCV get into sawmilling in the first place?

"At both sites the government decided to enter the sawmilling business because of issues with the industry. However the reasons were different.
At the Latrobe River (Nayook)site the reasons were:

  • To prevent the Vic Hardwood Co holding a monopoly in the Powelltown area.
  • To ensure a supply of timber for Public Works at a reasonable cost.

At Erica the reasons were:

  • To keep up the supply of timber due to private sector failure to put in mills.
  • To exploit the fire-killed timber in the Thomson Valley before it deteriorated and became useless for milling.
So the usual reason for establishing a mill (profit) was not the driving force. In the period 1930 to 1940 demand was low and there was no need for State intervention, so the FCV didn’t operate a mill in that time." (M McCarthy, 2020)

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The State Mill at Erica
Date: Unknown
Source: M McCarthy

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The State Mill at Erica
Date: January 1942
Source: G Cleary