Solitude is a relative concept. It seemed we brothers were the only campers along this shore of the Murray River on an Anzac Day weekend, but in the arid zone between Australia's agricultural outposts and the dry centre, you are never completely alone. The flies still abound in late summer populations sustained by April rains. And the Murray with its trailing lagoons, billabongs, creeks and flooded lakes becomes Federation Square for migratory and squatter forms of birdlife.
To my mind, the greatest change over 200 years lies on the very banks. No doubt erosion and undercutting always took place. Red Gum thrives in the impact zone. Flood, current, and piled debris. However, I believe fallen trees and captured floodwrack would have provided a texture of anarchy and disorder to the river bank we do not see today. It may have facilitated flooding or diversions to runoff lagoons and creeks as
break-offs caused larger chokes downstream. For always in the pattern of occurrence and propagation is the driftline of
same-age trees. Seedlings on the sandbars, young trees on new shorelines and mature trees leaning from vertical both ways on higher banks. A linear drift which mimics downstream flow of water.
Who - except in Dreaming - ever imagined a River Forest? A forest that defined, and was defined by, a river system. Was only as wide as a verge or a connective woodland
belt? A narrow linear drift forest occasionally bursting like an aneurysm at a chokepoint or obstacle on its wide flat journey, to create lagoon or flooded forest, then rolling slowly onwards to a distant sea.
We don't pay much for forest management in these national parks - and it shows. Many of the degraded features of the parks can be remedied by Parks Victoria staff if the budget allows. Park fees could include firewood collection at the entry, to stop collection of strategic fallen habitat log. People using the park for camping can be catered for and so can landcare objectives. It lies within our traditions of use and care. More measuring, reporting and assessment can be done to improve park management. It's what we have science for, after all. In the meantime, it belongs to our imagination, to visualize an ideal for the Murray River and its forests.
Red Gum was often used as a structural timber in the river towns of the Murray
- though it did not lend itself to length. For its mass, River Red Gum is not a strong structural timber. It works well as bulky post but it has a low spanning index. Its appeal lies elsewhere
- as anyone who owns a Red Gum table will tell you. We reported a year ago that stocks of overlay flooring were available from joists salvaged from the Younghusband
Woolstore in Albury, and good quantities of this batch are still available despite regular sales since that release.
DAR Red Gum 175 x 65mm Rate $65.00/m
These 2400mm dressed old sleepers are some of the last from the Robinvale
Bridge demolition a couple of years back.
DAR Spotted Gum 175 x 65mm Rate $65.00/m
Some of the sleepers referred to above were brown in tone, and included White Mahogany, Blackbutt and Ironbark, as well as Spotted Gum.
DAR Posts In Red Gum 120 x 120mm Rate $90.00/m
3.0 metres is a great length for verandah or pergola posts. These were resized from
300 x 150mm bridge 'kickers' - used as an edge on the top deck of country bridges. The original lumps of wood in
rough-sawn state are also available ($90.00/m) if you are looking for a rustic oversized pergola post.
Red Gum DAR
170 x 170mm Rate $170.00/m
No lengths exceeding 2.8 metres left, but 2.4 to 2.7 metre lengths in superb condition are available in both these sizes.
Will do deal for several in a purchase.
Red Gum Shorts DAR 100 x 85mm Rate $40.00 ea (std) or $30.00 ea (feature grade)
Lengths 900 to 1300mm.
DAR Spotted Gum 140 x 140mm Rate $150.00/m
3.0 to 4.0 metre lengths of recycled timber squared from round pole stock and dressed. Good colour and minimal attrition or rustic feature.
DAR Douglas Fir 220 x 40mm Rate $33.00/m
3.0 to 4.0 metre lengths of fine-grained, dense Oregon timbers remilled from deep joists. You have to love the old-growth sections of this species that are obtained from the early salvage record. There is no equivalent in new forest product today. This is furniture timber, but priced to give service as structural beams. But please don't hide it behind plaster. All of our timber is sourced to be seen and touched.