Our whole area seems to be alight with fires for the past month with no end in sight and unfortunately some of our native trees need fires to burst their seed pods open for a new life, BUT it also knocks around our history. You see back in the day before steel and alloy, timber was the main source of material for infrastructure and buildings right down to solid timber foundations.
The old timers knew what timber to use and exactly how to use it. Even out west on our travels there are still heritage listed timber stake fences as they used the tough timber so that white ants would leave it alone. Around here a lot of iron bark was used for its tough qualities and surplus amounts around the hills. Used for bridge spans, tough building foundations and much more and if you know where to look some of these old bridges are still standing today. Mind you the tops are wearing away from constant traffic and other where other timber was used, but the main supporting and structural beams are still there. Just on a side note, we checked out an old suspension bridge west of Wauchope a little time ago which is all timber and the 4 main poles must be 100 foot high that give strength to the bridge. Today it's the oldest single lane suspension bridge still in use in Australia and you can drive a car across.
Because of the limited re-sources back 100 years ago and timber was used it comes with a use by date, throw in high rainfall, termites and weathering and the life span soon deteriorates. Today as we speak fires are raging around the area where we have irreplaceable heritage and history. Along with the old bridges, buildings and even sections of forest with stands of massive trees, there are huts. These huts were once homes too many families, storekeepers, workers and even drovers around our coast, they were our pioneers and we should be proud. Our fire fighters do a bloody awesome job and protecting these structures are not on their priority list and nor should they be.
Fires are part of our natural history but unfortunately with the lack of c lean ups in our forests we will lose more of what we have. I have come across a plethora of goods in the bush but due to regulations we cannot remove items. From timber wheels, timber frames and structures, thin signs and much more it will most probably be lost by the time the forests are open again. It’s a shame that these items can’t be removed, tagged and the be taken to our local museum for display purposes and even some of the machinery that has been left behind needs to be removed.
Now I know thick steel doesn’t burn but during and after a fire, and even at times of drought - branches, ash and other matter falls on the forgotten history and it gets harder to find and discover. Currently there is no policy for relics in the bush as I was told its a grey area so it gets avoided, but just think about how good it would be to have these large items in the yard of our museum or a centre piece inside with old photos and a write up on its origin. We have some amazing history in the hills around the Coffs Coast and it soon will be gone as its now only accessible to those who have a 4wd and the knowledge where to find it, sometimes it takes a super human walk along old creek beds or through thick forest areas.
I know of some relics that have been found and dated back to the turn of the century like plates and coins in some of the old shanty gold towns that were scattered in the hills, old belt buckles and the steel caps from boots nailed to the outside with hand made nails - it may only be little but its all important. We have been to abandoned gold mines and found old boots and tools, broken steel casings, nuts and bolts off stampers and boilers, right down to bottles dating back to the 40’s but left them there as a mark of respect and hope others do the same.
It’s a shame that groups don’t have the permission ( and I have tried on this ) to go in and clear these sites just so they can be preserved a little longer but the legalities will alway rear its ugly head with safety regulations. Fires are hard to control as sparks can fly for miles in the air and before long another blaze will start. All we can do it hope the fires don’t affect our precious history that seems to be hanging on by a shoe string.