These photographs are taken from an album presented to George Perrin, in 1891. George Perrin was the first government appointed Conservator of Forests.
The Australian Seasoned Timber Company cut large amounts of hardwood timber in the Mt Disappointment forests north of Melbourne in the 1890s. This timber was treated and seasoned by the company and sold to furniture makers. The company operated sawmills at Yarrawonga in Northern Victoria and Warburton, east of Melbourne.However its main operations were in the Mount Disappointment forests near Wandong, north of Melbourne. Here the Australian Seasoned Timber Company worked two sawmills in the heart of the forest, known as 'Comet Mill' and 'Planet Mill'. These mills were surrounded by a network of tramways which carried logs to the mill for cutting. These tramways included a notorious section ironically called "The Bump" - a steep incline with a winch to haul logs.
The Comet sawmill expanded rapidly during the 1890s, processing 800 logs a month. At this time Mt Disappointment was the site of some of the largest hardwood sawmills in Australia. A thriving community developed at the Comet Mill. One hundred men were employed and many of these had families. About twenty children attended the mill's State School (no. 2799) after 1887.
The Australian Seasoned Timber Company's finishing and seasoning works were located in the township of Wandong, north of Melbourne on the edge of the Mt Disappointment forest. This seasoning plant treated messmate timber. The Wandong seasoning works were established by a different company in 1889 and were one of the earliest attempts to season hardwood in Australia.
The Comet Mill closed in 1902. The machinery was dismantled and sent to Western Australia although the foundations of the mill are still evident among the tree ferns. The Planet Mill site now lies under the Sunday Creek reservoir and no traces are now left of the Wandong seasoning plant. Remnants of the tramways can still be discerned near Wandong, although many were destroyed by fire in 1982. Enormous sawdust heaps are the main remnants of the sawmilling activities and are clearly evident in the forest.
View the forest timber photo collection.