Urban Salvage

The Drum


      APRIL 2013

  • A Timber Trail In Melbourne's CBD
  • What's New At Spotswood Showroom And Warehouse

A Timber Trail In Melbourne's CBD


Coffee devotion nowadays resembles emergent Christianity in its fervour and its unfolding heresies. Roast practitioners break away from their established cafe congregations to establish smaller sectarian places of worship - in pursuit of an ideal or driven by a personal coffee conviction. Serious baristas follow. Often a Reformation process is undergone. Soy lattes are banished in some pure thinking establishments. De-Caf and Skinny-Caf are likewise spurned.

There is a split with Rome which has led to traditional terms like macchiato and piccolo no longer being the accepted terminology. Have you not tried a 'Magic' in the inner burbs of Melbourne? It is a serious attempt to pull back the milky power of a Flat White from the excesses wreaked in the bogan satellite coffee chains, where Mug-a-chino reigns supreme.

This concern for not drowning your morning java in an excess of hot milk reminds me that the language of coffee drinks is a shifting cultural construction anyway. Don't expect to order an Americano anywhere in the United States and get a long black. They might just look at you askance. Use the good old Aussie shortened form in Italy and order a 'latte' at your peril. Just like my mate Peter, you might get a glass of hot milk. He recovered well, did Pete - ordering a double espresso on the rebound and tipping it into the latte.

I dredged these memories and wayward observations on my way to coffee at 'A Little Bird Told Me' in Little Latrobe Street. The joinery here is the work of Henri Pieperiet from Darios Design. Henri used Urban Salvage's recycled dressed Messmate board to create benchtops and work surfaces for designer Rebecca Notley and her partner in 'Little Bird', Caleb Heaney. 



Heaney is the head coffee roaster and barista at this new venture located in the shadows of RMIT. Word has it that Heaney is a master of the craft and possessed of a modern purist coffee aestheticism. There is none of your Romish decadence to be found in elaborate continental espresso machines here. No gold plated Excelsior or Faema. No finned and streamlined Cadillac-red La Pavoni. Instead, the clean Protestant lines of a Synesso sits devoutly on a messmate bench that is of Amish simplicity.

Just around the corner in Franklin Street, is to be found recently-launched bar 'Captain Melville'. For any interstate bus traveller, the original bluestone building once known as Mac's Hotel would be familiar - right next door to the coach depot. It has undergone a makeover into a food and drinks establishment named after a famous bushranger and themed to recall both public houses and the food of earlier days. More tasty and more nourishing, though, I'm guessing.



In the front bar area, wide Recycled Messmate floorboards replace original gapped and worn softwood timbers that have outlived their purpose; Reclaimed Tasmanian Oak flooring and Recycled Brushbox screens define the alcoves. At the rear, one whole wall is an interlocked montage of dressed Recycled Messmate 40mm framing timbers showing end-grain and side-grain in alternating brick-bond courses. It is a textural relief to the weight of redbrick and bluestone that would have dominated the rear courtyard. Besides - it is remarkable in its own right as a bijou byte of grain and dimension repeated continually on a very large canvas - with no single part of the pattern ever identical to another. The overall scale and effect is impressive and should provide inspiration for this practice in residential timber work.



To a point my CBD tour was inspired by Urban Salvage-sourced timbers - but I feel impelled to mention a bookshop in Little Lonsdale Street - discovered while looking for 'A Little Bird' in all the wrong places. Embiggen Books declare on their business card that 'The Bookshop is Dead. Long Live the Bookshop'. Spirited irony reminding us that what is true of national trends and Big Business - isn't true for all small enterprises. Embiggen Books survives happily behind the State Library in a long concrete vault-like room at the rear of QVB that is relieved by bookshelves and benches formed in - you guessed it - lovely old timber. I'm coming back, Embiggen.


Source List For 'A Little Bird Told Me'
Designer:  Rebecca Notley
Joinery:    Darios Design, Spotswood   www.dariosdesign.com.au
Timber:    DAR Recycled Messmate


Source List For 'Captain Melville'
Architect: Breathe Architects  www.breathe.com.au
   Andrew Wuttke
    Shane Smith, Ficus Constructions  Phone: 0417 034 295  www.ficusconstructions.com.au
Timber:   Recycled DAR Messmate 80 x 40mm
   Recycled Brushbox 65 x 21mm
   Reclaimed Tasmanian Oak Flooring 108 x 19mm


What's New At Spotswood Showroom And Warehouse

Recycled Kinchela Blackbutt
125 x 19mm   Rate: $139.00/m2

The timber is oxidised, aged and hypnotising in caramel tones and grain.

The black marks of time and fine surface furrowing add to the appeal of this timber salvaged from an
old produce warehouse on the Macleay River near Kempsey.

I can think of lots of purposes to put this to - but there is only so much of it.


Recycled DAR Messmate Boards
180 x 40mm; 130 x 40mm and 270 x 40mm

Recycled Messmate for joinery, furniture and benchtops - just like the benches at 'A Little Birdie Told Me'
- is readily available in a range of sizes at our Spotswood showroom. Call in and inspect.


Recycled Brushbox
65 x 21mm   Rate: $6.90/m

Clear grained boards remilled from a gymnasium floorboard are still available in set-length packs from our Spotswood showroom.

Best suited to screening installations like the bar booths at 'Captain Melville'.

But have a look at our Tallowwood 42 x 19mm ($4.50/m) and Blackbutt screening battens 40 x 32mm ($4.90/m) as well.


Recycled Tasmanian Oak Flooring
108 x 22mm; 108 x 19mm   Rate: $52.00/m2

You can opt for a houselot salvaged from a 1930s dwelling with many boards still room-length
and with a grain typical of the old-growth timbers they were milling in the day.

Alternatively, you can choose a board that has had a hard life on the surface of it's 19mm depth and shows marks, scratches
and a dusty wear and tear that will suit a studio or beach house so well in temperament that no-one will guess you have just laid it.

In an age where everyone is looking for authenticity, this supply of genuine metropolitan salvage has verity in large measure.


Recycled Truss-web Forest Red Gum
90 x 90mm   Rate: $49.00/m

If we hadn't left the butt tenons on these short timbers, no-one would have believed they were recycled
- so free of markings are they in dressed state.

I love Forest Red Gum. I don't like that everyone calls it Queensland Red Gum and Queenslanders call it Blue Gum.

Forest Red Gum evokes that tall forest, high canopy formation where the species is found.
It has a glossy, smooth dressed finish that Red Ironbark doesn't.
It has an ethereal flutter of fiddleback and doesn't have the hollows and disturbed grain of River Red Gum.

These lengths - 1.5m and 2.1m - will suit table legs for furniture.

I hope someone can use the retained tenon creatively. They are air-seasoned from 100 years under sheets of iron in the
roof trusses of Port Curtis Dairy Co-operative in Gladstone, Queensland - built in 1906 and demolished recently.


Recycled Brushbox DAR
150 x 30mm   Rate: $24.00/m

Available in 2.2m to 2.3m lengths and salvaged from the deadman beams on the timber loading dock at Port Curtis Dairy Co-operative.

Milled from 100mm thick timbers, they have been re-seasoned and dressed retaining two boltholes on each end.

Lovely rustic finish and depth of colour. 


Recycled Blackbutt DAR
85 x 42mm   Rate: $22.00/m

Most of our stock of Blackbutt in this size comes from house framing.
It is popular enough that it doesn't need a story to sell it - but there is an interesting background to this batch.

Essentially framing timbers, they were salvaged from a warehouse which was at one time an aircraft hangar on the Brisbane River.

For a period before and after World War II, it housed flying boats. Both the military and civil aviation variety.

Did General Douglas MacArthur tap his corncob pipe out on one of these wall studs before boarding a Catalina sometime in 1942?
No - probably not. Firstly, they could smoke in-flight in those days before WorkSafe. 
And besides, Dougie had his own Flying Fortress. He didn't like flying boats. 


KD Mountain Ash
45 x 45mm   DAR   Rate: $7.00/m

Not expensive - but a useful size for small tables and joinery projects.