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Timber Work

I'm not sure how the timber cutting industry works today but I remember this time of my life, timber cutting was very dangerous, lonely, busy work to do. My parent used to go out working in the bush cutting timber to take to the saw mills, or cut into sleeper blocks, before cement ones were introduced, after my father stopped cutting them. We loaded them into rail wagons to be shipped to where they needed to be.

Barking the fallen timber, sometime easy if the right trees, hard otherwise, bars had to be used to try to peel it away. At the right time some bark fell away fast sending you over the log if you weren't watching. Standing on the inner wet side was a bad mistake, your feet slipped from beneath you sending you slipping to land on the rear end.

My father was one of those people who didn't leave the paddock with half a load, he made sure he couldn't add just one more and still drive the truck. I can't believe that poor truck took all the weight without sagging to the ground with a broken chassis. My mother and I would plead that the truck wouldn't take another log but to no avail. He walked around to the back duel tires, shove his hand between the tray and the top of the tire, if his hand fitted in the space with room to spare, another piece of timber went on the top.

On one occasion, he did this and it was a hair raising experience, the sun had set on the way out of the bush headed toward the highway, from there we had to travel up and down a few steep hills when we came closer to the city. I felt sorry for the poor truck engine that had to struggle to pull the load up the hills, and for the traffic following behind until there was a stretch for them to safely pass.

This night were were running a little late to reach the mill, and if the owners had left we had to unload the timber in the dark, making this a dangerous job. But luck held. The workers were still there to help unload. I don't know how my father steered the truck where it had to go, the rubber just touched the road as all the weight was at the back. Safely we made the journey into the suburb where the mill was situated.

Someone had to be watching over us that night. Dad turned on to the dirt track leading to the mill, there was a sharp turn down on to a small wooden bridge, then up a slight rise to the yard. The guys watching the truck must have called on a lot of help with prayers for our safe journey to the yard. As we came around the bend the long logs touched the ground, the wheels left the ground and dropped back to the road, giving enough traction for the steering wheel to turn the truck for the bridge. Such a narrow wooden bridge with no room for error to the nth degree. Some unseen hand guided the truck for the bridge, held it together for the truck to pass over to reach the other side, cheers going up when we safely arrived at the drop off section of the yard. My mother and I saw our lives flash before our eyes when the truck went up in the air at the corner. The air turned blue on mum's side of the truck for such a foolish escapade. I hung on. The cabin was too dark to see how dad was feeling if I turned his way, my eyes were glued to the bridge. The collapse of the bridge would have sent the timber forward killing the three of us but we lived to tell the tale and be there for the next episode of terror, sometimes fun.



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