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Circular saw blades installation

Circular saw blades installation

A set of saw blades from an early Queensland mill serve as a reminder of a time when timber from rainforests, now with world heritage status, was a cheap and common building material. The blades weigh about 20 kilograms each and even a century on, they remain sharp, which proved a challenge during their installation in the Landmarks gallery.

The blades are from a mill at Yungaburra on the Atherton Tablelands, near Cairns. The timber industry moved to the vast stands of rainforest in north Queensland after Brisbane's population boomed in the 1880s and the forests on Australia's south-eastern coast had been worked out. The blades are on show with a display about Queenslander homes, which were typically made from cheap and easily transportable material, such as cedar. 

The Yungaburra mill was constructed by Oswald and Neville Williamson in 1910 and the business was later bought by the Rankine family. The saw blades were powered by a steam engine and used to cut timber into manageable sizes, ready for drying. They were installed in Landmarks alongside a heavy set of hooks and chains, originally used to help move trees into the timber yard. 

The north Queensland timber industry continued for almost a century, until the mills began to close when the rainforests were granted world heritage status in 1988.

All photography by George Serras.

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