This article gives an insight on some of the activities at Connors Plains during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the first week of January 1957, Darren Gribble and I, having completed our first year of studies at the Victorian School of Forestry, Creswick, boarded a train in Melbourne for Heyfield. Later that day we were greeted at the Forest Office in Heyfield by Val Cleary, the DFO before being driven to Connors Plains, north of Heyfield, by Ken Nichols.
At Connors Plains there was a substantial FCV camp with 50 or so road construction personnel as well as Foresters and Forest Foremen. The camp had a large mess hall and staff quarters as well as numerous Stanley huts for the workers.
A eucalypt seed is a truly remarkable thing. In most eucalypt species, an individual seed is around the size of a grain of sand. And yet the Genus includes, among its ranks, the tallest flowering plants on Earth, with individual trees well over 100 metres in height being recorded.
In the late 1700s/early 1800s, newcomers to the continent, that would come to be known as Australia, encountered flora and fauna that were unknown to ‘science’. First peoples who, over millennia, had built-up a detailed knowledge of the ecosystems they lived among, and moved between, saw their expertise largely ignored by the rush of new arrivals who were driven, initially at least, by survival in a seemingly hostile environment, and later by gold-fever.
For tens of thousands of years humans, and the natural environment, co-existed in relative harmony in the area now known as south-eastern Australia. From 1788 however, sustained migration, sponsored by the British, commenced.
The discovery of gold, in the 1850s, was to result in a literal stampede of humanity, from across the Globe. Among other things it was to be a brutal time for the environment, and particularly for the area’s forests and woodlands, as the skeletal British-based bureaucracy struggled to adapt.
In 1882, one of Victoria’s first foresters in the then British Colony was appointed, to supervise the Ballarat-Creswick State Forest. Over the next couple of decades this remarkable individual, and truly committed public servant, John La Gerche, battled to deal with what he termed ‘…the great (forest) slaughter…’ and its aftermath and, in so doing, became a great example to those who, to this day, follow in his footsteps.
A special workshop was held during the 2001 joint Commonwealth and IFA Forestry Conference in Fremantle, WA. An initiative of Chris Haynes, the workshop was developed as part of the IFA Conference Partners Program, to explore the role of partners in the forestry profession.
With the aid of slides, an international group of forestry partners (all women this time - we hope some male partners will join us for future sessions) talked about our association with Forestry through the years and found that we shared many common experiences. There were also some unusual and unique situations described, with much laughter.
We then went on to identify the forces related to Forestry that impact on our lives now - the highs and the lows. From this exercise emerged the following main points relating to the role of partners in the forestry profession.
Taken from VSFA NL No. 4, November 1954.
In 1954 the FCV still generally managed plantations and native forests through separate organisational arrangements. Measurements of wood volumes in the article are given in super feet, which would have meant super feet, Hoppus Log Volume.
The area of Reserved Forest is approximately 76,000 acres, that of Protected Forest is negligible. About 40,000 acres are Messmate-Peppermint-Gum forest of good quality, with a relatively favorable silvicultural history and therefore highly productive. 90 acres of pine plantation at Mt. Franklin, to be increased to 145 acres, is under District control.
The District straddles the Dividing Range, and embraces the headwaters of the Loddon, Moorabool, Werribee and Lerderderg Rivers. Topography is undulating foothill type, except in the valley of the last-named stream which for several miles is gorge-like. Rainfall ranges from 30" minus to 40" plus.
At present staff consists of District Forester, Assistant Forester, two Clerical Assistants, one Forest Overseer, four Staff Foremen and one Forest Foreman. Labour strength is 21 men, and transport one utility, one Land Rover, two trucks and one Scout car.