Urban Salvage

The Drum


      MARCH 2015

  • The Bush
  • What's New?

Review: The Bush - Don Watson

'What Europeans have done to the bush' - says Don Watson - 'is atrocious by any measure, rational or not. Along with a guilty sense that I owe much of my fortunate life to a host of destructive acts, the scale of past atrocities dismays me'. 

In his story of the Australian continent - at once a history, biographical journey and road trip - Watson invites a more self-critical response to land use and industry and one that draws deeply upon our past mistakes and miscalculations. We embark upon a bush journey of inquiry and discovery in which issues are everywhere raised, considered and criticisms ultimately levelled. Watson sidesteps slogans, simplifications, and the confected madness that environmental activists and apologists unleash upon each other. Views and opinions are carefully patrolled - some subjects are exhaustively explored. There is an effortless tilt from personal life stories and memories to a sort of Socratic dialogue with the reader - and by this stage he has your blessing.

Self-criticism is difficult for Australians. We see ourselves reflected in the eyes of the outside world - rather than defined by our social traditions. Unwilling to staunchly defend our past and our pioneers - guarded and prickly when we do. A 'black armband view' is a typical lament. Blame - when you look for it - lies closer to every Australian home than our contemporary conservation mythology allows. It lies as often with recent ancestors as with those 'hard gobbets' of early settlement identified by Eric Rolls in A Million Wild Acres. Our present affluence allows us the room for revision - but it's an affluence resting on wealth garnered from the decades of rural development that drove depredation of the Australian bush.  

The bush - to Don Watson - has real and imaginary elements. The bush was a physical obstacle to settlers and they brought English will to bear against it, destroying the native landscape with - as the author grants - 'the best of themselves, not the worst'. Imaginary in its influence on the native sons of settlers, burdened by the realisation that cleared farmland would never attain the character of English parkland; beaten by the physical difficulties of making a life, and undone to the point of madness. Thereafter - and perversely - building great legends upon the exploits and adversities of the rural classes and grounding the nation's idea of itself. 

Penguin Books Australia
ISBN: 9781926428215

It is a book that timber people should read. Its embrace is much wider than forests - especially if your interest extends to the more remarkable floral landscapes beyond closed-canopy montane forests. The destruction of black box woodland along the Murrumbidgee floodplains, the clearing of Mallee along the middle Murray - and the burning regimes of indigenous tribes before European settlement, are all considered in Watson's book. There are surprising and - were it not such a vast subject - wayward digressions on fauna, flora, mateship, insects, and swagmen. I enjoyed the sweep of this book with its occasional dip into bush poetry, its fluid writing - a hand steadied by long research and the hard edges softened by a lively wit and wry humour. 

An open woodland of Black Box on the Darling River floodplain near Wentworth NSW.
Remnant patches remain along much of the Murray-Darling basin.

Part of the Darling River basin near Broken Hill.
All trees have been removed and no regrowth has been allowed to occur.
Low acacia shrubs and grasses provide ground cover.


What's New?

Red Mahogany Wharfdeck
135 x 32mm - Rate: $13.90/m - $99.00/m2 (pack price - 25m2 minimum)

This hefty version of a decking board has been a popular outdoor design element of many residential and commercial building projects for close to two decades in Melbourne.
In many ways it has the perfect balance of dimension to perform in the most difficult aspect of outdoor installation - and has a successful history of use.

Regular users of Wharfdeck return to purchase it for new projects with great enthusiasm. 
I think they might find the current stocks of Red Mahogany a temptation - we are currently offering it cheaper
than our ubiquitous Blackbutt - and it has impressive durability credentials. 

Not unlike Jarrah, Red Mahogany has a deep red heartwood. The tree is found in northern NSW and all the way up the coast to Cooktown.
In early years of the 20th century it was used for bridges and wharves - and it is a popular flooring timber throughout eastern Australia.

Come and inspect Red Mahogany Wharfdeck at our Spotswood showroom soon.


Birdseye Stringybark
from $24.00/m

After selling out of 32mm Birdseye Stringybark stocks, we have stocked the shelves at Spotswood with 19mm and 25mm board for furniture timber customers. 

The 19mm boards are factory-laminated at a competitive rate to 270mm and 360mm widths.

Get in early to select the radically-featured boards.

270 x 19mm - Rate: $49.00/m
360 x 19mm - Rate: $69.00/m
180 x 25mm - Rate: $24.00/m



Sawtooth Tabletops - Laminated Douglas Fir
Rate: From $190.00/m

Disappearing fast are stocks of random-length benchtops in recycled fir retaining a brushed aged surface.

They make great coffee tables and verandah dining tables with a rustic finish.



280 x 42mm - Rate: $89.00/m

Lovers of Spotted Gum will find immediate affection for the tones and textures of Tallowwood. 

The size suggests an ideal solid open stair tread - but recent demand has been for shelving in open-plan rooms. 

Random lengths will therefore have good appeal.


Recycled Specialty Lining Boards

Everyone loves the new finish on display floors at Urban Salvage.

Like many of our customers, the staff at Urban Salvage wonder - is there ever an end to renovations?

We have recently renovated many elements of our displays - including repolishing the floors with new Traffic HD and Livos Kunos Oil.
Some walls feature without a clear coating - we regard them as too good to tinker with.

Recycled Tasmanian Oak has such a raw, worn and abraded finish it often looks like expensive old leather;

Raw recycled surface on wall lining is retained - 63mm retro floorboards finished in Livos Kunos Oil.

Chalkface lining boards
mirror the painted brick on the outer walls -


 and sleek Shadowline Stringybark supplies the modern look.

  Shadowline boards provide a sleek textured look.
Available in Stringybark and Spotted Gum.


On the texture end of the spectrum, five-o-clock shadowy Sawtooth lining boards hide invisible flush doors in a timber-suede wall.

  80mm Sawtooth Lining Boards.


If you are interested in a timber wall effect, call and see the new showrooms at Spotswood soon.