Pennant Hills Sawmills

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Blissett timber mill on corner Cardinal Ave and Pennant Hills Road
Blissett timber mill on corner Cardinal Ave and Pennant Hills Road

There were forestry activities in the higher areas of the Pennant Hills making use of the tall trees that had lived there untouched for centuries. Once a tree was cut down it would be treated in two ways. The complete log could be hauled by bullocks to either the Parramatta River or the Lane Cove River and floated down to the Sydney Township. A timber mill close to the town would then cut up the log. The second choice was to haul the log to selected sites where a team of men would cut or split the log into planks and in some cases into shingles for roofing.

The sawing of logs into planks was a very labour intensive work. A pit was dug and the excess soil mounded on the surround to create a working area for the log. The log would be hauled across the pit and a special rip saw used to cut the wood. One man would stand on top of the log holding the handle of the saw and the second member of the sawyer team would be down in the pit holding the other handle of the saw. A coordinated push and pull method would draw the sharp teeth of the saw through the log to produce a plank. John Macarthur's 100 acre allotment at present day West Pennant Hills was regularly used as a source of building timber. The Governor Macquarie Government Pennant Hills Timber-getting Establishment made use of the forests of the Pennant Hills from 1816.

Trevor Patrick is a local historian of the north-west of Sydney, Australia. His latest book, In Search of the Pennant Hills, recounts some of these stories (and others) in more detail.