Anyone who thought it was a shame that the mature eucalypts along the back of the Euroa Primary School grounds had to be removed will be pleased to learn that the wood will not be wasted.
The trees, of a type notorious for dropping large limbs suddenly, were cut down earlier this year because it was considered that age and drought stress had made them too dangerous to allow to remain so close to a children's play area. Branches and upper trunks had been lopped and removed prior to felling, and only the trunks were left awaiting disposal.
Neale Williams was engaged to cut up the trunks of the trees, some of which were up to 75cm in diameter at the base. Neale, who is a local resident and the partner of local artist Helen Brook, started his one-man operation several years ago, at the completion of a NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) course on setting up and running a small business, which he and Helen call Willbrook Farm Services. His basic equipment comprises a portable saw mill, which is transported by a ute and trailer and can be assembled in about half an hour, and a chainsaw. The milling is done by a circular sawblade that can be rotated to cut horizontally or vertically.
At the Primary School, Neale is converting the tree trunks to timber of varying length, mostly in the standard sizes of 5cm (two inches) thick and from 10cm to 20cm (eight inches) wide. Any lengths of good quality will be retained for sale, while rougher cuts - lengths unsuitable for other purposes - will be used around the school, recycled for landscaping features such as garden bed edging.
As Neale works his way through the logs, some of the school's history is revealed within the wood. In years gone by, apparently when the trees were only a few inches in diameter, they were used as posts for attaching wire fencing. Close to their central cores of the trunks are black stains, which show where the tree has overgrown nails or wire that has since been dissolved by sap. In some places, however, bits of rusty steel remain, and Neale carries a metal detector so that he can identify and remove these parts with the chainsaw before they cause any damage to his valuable sawblade.