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Jinkers & Whims
Jinkers and Whims traces the development of the methods and machines used to harvest the forests of Western Australia over the last 150 years, from first settlement to the present day, from horse and steam power to modern mechanical harvesters. It describes the bush workings and logging operations that underpinned WA’s sawmilling industry — once the third largest industry in the state behind wheat and wool. It is also a tribute to the skill and innovation of the bushmen and engineers who brought about the changes and who designed and built those weird and wonderful machines that were unique to the industry and to this part of the world.
Jinkers and Whims contains more than one hundred photographs dating from the 1890s to the present, and provides a timely record of the developments that took place before the details of their existence and their operation fade from memory.
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Jack Bradshaw’s family has been associated with the sawmill industry of Western Australia since its inception. Jack grew up in the sawmill towns of Mornington and Jarrahwood spending his high school years at boarding school at New Norcia. After graduating in forestry from the University of WA and the Australian Forestry School in Canberra he began work in the Forests Department at Pemberton in 1963 and continued his association with sawmill communities in a variety of centres in the south west. At retirement in 1999 he was Manager of Forest Management Branch in the Department of Conservation and Land Management. He continues to work as a consultant in silviculture and forest management.
Growing up in the 1940s and 1950s he witnessed the change from steam to diesel, from axe to chainsaw and the final days of the horse era. His childhood memories of this time together with a lifetime of work in the forest have fostered his keen interest in both the industrial and social aspects of forest history.
It is appropriate that a history of timber-getting in Western Australia has been written and illustrated by Jack Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is one of the State's most experienced foresters, having had a distinguished career in the native forests of the south-west for over fifty years. But more than that he comes from a timber family; he grew up in mill towns where his father was a sawmill manager, and his many forebears in the timber industry date back to John Hughan, a Scottish sawyer shipwrecked on the Western Australian coast in 1853, on a ship carrying the State's first sawmill.
As a consequence of this background, Bradshaw knows the forest, the way it has been worked since European settlement, and the people who have worked it. This profound understanding of his subject has enabled him to produce a story which deals with both the technical and social aspects of timber-getting history.
As the title foreshadows the book chronicles the evolution of timber getting - the work in the bush that produces the logs that are destined to be converted into timber products once they have been delivered to a mill. The reader is taken through the sequence of operations (felling, snigging, loading, log transport and unloading) and for each phase we see how this work has evolved in the Western Australian forests. There is also an interesting section on pit-sawing and hewing - the work "at the stump" that preceded the development of sawmills and timber towns. We can also follow the evolution of the tools of trade. Some tools, like the felling axe and crosscut saw are used internationally. Others like the enormous wheeled whims pulled by horses or bullock teams, were a Western Australian innovation.
Jinkers and Whims is well-written and full of entertaining commentary on the work of the timber-getters and their animals and equipment. We learn for example that in the early days of the industry up to 70 horses a day required shoeing, the horse shoes all being made by mill blacksmiths. The colossal task of feeding and caring for hundreds of horses and bullocks speaks of times utterly unknown to modern bush workers.
But this book is much more than words. It has one of the finest collections of photographs I have ever seen from the early days of Western Australian forests. Each photograph is accompanied by a succinct and informative caption. The quality of photographic reproduction is outstanding - I recognise several of the pictures but had never before seen them so beautifully reproduced. I can see the hand of the author in this work as well, as Bradshaw is renown for his photographic skills as well as for his work as a silviculturalist.
This is a book that will especially appeal to anyone, anywhere in the world, who has worked in the timber industry, but it will also be enjoyed by readers with an interest in the history of technology and engineering or in the social history of the south-western forests.
Finally, Bradshaw's book is a tribute to the timber-getters themselves. Logging is one of the world's most dangerous and demanding industries, calling for people of inordinate strength and toughness. But as the book demonstrates, it has also called over the years for a wide range of bush skills, ranging from axemanship to horsemanship, from building bridges, roads and railways to designing and building innovative equipment, from driving bullocks to driving bulldozers. The work of the timber getter has never been celebrated in Australian mythology or literature as have miners and stockmen. Bradshaw's book is therefore important ... it is a step to the recognition of the great bushmen of the forest country.