Gordon V Cleary & Geoffrey H Westcott
The authors are sons of FCV Foresters. Their fathers worked together and within the fraternity of foresters so well represented on this website. They have drawn upon recollections of parental conversations, published articles, FCV reports, scrapbooks, family photograph albums and newspaper clippings to offer this story.
The FCV Annual Report of 1944-45 reflected a rising focus on eastern Victoria as a timber source. It stated:
"If the demands for timber for post-war purposes are to be met, it is most necessary that measures should be taken immediately to secure to the State the reservation in perpetuity of all those areas at present carrying milling quality timber or which have in the past carried such timber and can be regenerated. In this connection, attention is again directed to those extensive areas in the eastern portion of the State carrying excellent stands of millable timber, but which have not yet been dedicated as permanent forest. These forests are expected to play an important part in the post-war development of the State.
The completion of salvage operations in the areas killed by the 1939 fires necessitates the transfer of a considerable number of mills within the next three years, and it is to these at present unreserved forests that the State must look for its future supplies of milling timber. The expenditure of a considerable amount of money on road construction and fire protection works will be necessary, and the Commission is of the firm opinion that permanent dedication of the areas should be effected without delay in order to protect the assets thus created."
These imperatives were already a key part of the mission statement of FCV Foresters of that era, including our fathers, whose particular remit included operations in the North Eastern district of Delatite.
Jim Westcott (VSF 1929-1931) was appointed DFO Delatite Forest District, Mansfield, on 20th April 1940. Val Cleary (VSF 1940-1942) was appointed to Mansfield as Assistant DFO on 28th January 1943, at 20 years of age, direct from graduating from the VSF in the previous year. Back then, even before the war was over, there was much FCV activity taking place in the Delatite District. Jim explained these activities in an unattributed local press item dated Friday, June 30, 1944 and headed “Huge Timber Project”.
David Drangsholt (bio)
This article about my father comes from extracts from my book, Man of the Forest.
Kristian Drangsholt, was born at Kristiansand in Norway, on 17 October, 1899. He came to Australia in 1927 and joined the FCV in February of that year.
“Kristian finished school in 1916 and then was employed in practical forestry in the southern part of Norway until the Spring of 1918. His grandfather still had interests in timber, which is the reason Kristian was able to pursue a career in forestry.”
Alan Eddy graduated from the VSF in 1948 and went on to have a long and distinguished career in the FCV and CFL. Alan has written extensively about his career, and has very kindly provided his papers to be published on this site.
The first of those papers, The Forestry Family, is available at this link, and it is a "must read" if you wish to get a real flavour of the times from Alan's graduation onwards. The "Family", as Alan so rightly calls it, worked under conditons that are unimaginable today. Below are more of Alan's recollections.
Gelignite Can Be Very Useful Stuff
Bernie Evans (bio)
This article is based upon a conversation between Bernie and Richard Rawson in August 2018
On his first visit to the FCV District Office at Swifts Creek in early 1960, while he was assessing in the area of Davies Plain, Bernie was to find the District Forester, Moray Douglas, sitting in his office with feet on a footstool comprising a number of boxes of gelignite. Now, even in those days that seemed a little unusual. Powder magazines were a common feature of FCV locations, but they were not usually located in the main office.
Victorian Fire Crew “Lost” in NSW
- build freeway and then backburn to keep warm
This article is based upon a conversation between Bernie Evans and Richard Rawson in August 2018
In about 1972, with many FCV personnel already committed to a big fire at Mt Elizabeth, near Buchan, a very large fire in the Kosciusko National Park “was gradually burning its way south between the Snowy and the Ingeegoodbee Rivers” heading towards the Victorian border and, typical of the time, the NSW people were interested in their own side, not ours. Well, the truth is they probably were not really worried about the fire at all, but we were interested, because if nothing happened we would have a huge unwanted blaze inside our patch.
The Spiral Grained Pencil Pine
Written in 2016
Editors Note: This article by Euan Ferguson is, in Euans' words, "completely fictional. I wrote it one tired night whilst doing the Overland Track in Tasmania. During that day we'd seen a number of dead and fallen pencil pines that seemed to have an anti-clockwise spiral texture on the sapwood. The group asked me what caused this spiraling. I have no idea what causes it, so I made up this story.
Whilst a fictional story, it nevertheless contains some interesting and challenging messages for readers, natural resource managers, politicians and the wider community as follows:-
- as Euan has written,... "Our duty for caring for our forests extends beyond the years to generations.... the life of the forest is measured in generations, not just in years.", and
- Old growth trees are a valuable and important part of our native forest ecosystems, but they eventually die hopefully with another generation of younger trees following, some of which will become old growth trees.
My Old Plumb Axe
We were young Creswick forestry students, “new” in every sense of the word. On Saturday mornings we would be listed for various fieldwork jobs, often in the demonstration mixed species forest adjoining the forestry school grounds.
On this day, each of us was issued with a shiny coloured (mine was yellow) hard hat and a sharp new axe. This, for me, was not just any old axe. It was a Plumb axe. And it was mine. It was forged and crafted as a thing of potent power, but also a tool that could be associated with risk of injury if your footing slipped or your swing missed its target. It was a tool built by craftsmen for use by fellow craftsmen. I had inherited the essence of caring for hand tools from my father’s wisdom.
Forester, RAAF Pilot, Naturalist
This article has been developed using extracts of Bill's story published by 485 Squadron, RAAF
After a short period in Head Office, Bill was called up for compulsory military service for a couple of months with a CMF Engineers Unit at Trawool near Seymour. He then returned to the FCV Head Office. About this time Bill, and his brother Jack who was also a Forest Officer, tried to enlist in the Air Force, but Forestry had been declared a Reserved Occupation, so their applications were refused. Eventually, Jack was allowed to join the RAAF and later still, Bill was also permitted to join on leave from the FCV.
In the meantime, after a short period in Head Office to become familiar with office procedures and personnel, Bill was posted to the Neerim South Forest District. After a short period Bill became Assistant Forester at the Toorongo Sub-District, which was the centre for some extensive timber salvage operations following the 1939 bushfires. There were five sawmills, other operators felling the killed trees into logs that couldn't be utilized immediately but had to be carted into dumps and covered with water to preserve them for future use. There were two camps, one for road construction and one for timber salvage operations.