Woodworks Museum and Interpretive Centre
The Woodworks Museum, officially receiving its name at the grand opening on March 23rd 1984, was established to provide a refuge for the history of the forest and timber industries. Built in 1984 as a joint venture between what was then known as the Department of Forestry and the Queensland Museum, its development was largely due to continuing concern by forestry officers for preservation of the artifacts and traditions associated with: forest development and conservation, production and distribution of timber, and timber products.
The buildings on the site are of architectural and cultural significance and are a reflection of the great ‘timber and tin’ tradition of Queensland architecture, purpose built to showcase the hardwood timbers of the Gympie and Burnett Region. The grounds evoke further memories of days gone by; in keeping with the old world atmosphere of the Museum, traditional post and rail fences, typical of those used by early settlers, are built around the site.
The site was first suggested for a Museum by former Gympie District Forester, the late Reg Doggrell, whose wife’s grandfather, James Fraser, took it up as a forty acre selection in 1873. He chose a location in a district rich in forest history, as the first sawmill established in the Gympie area (in the 1860’s) was within a hundred metres of the Museum site.
When you walk into the Woodworks Museum and Interpretive Centre you will see the information panels that have been installed to illustrate the history of the Museum itself and of Queensland’s Timber Industry. Static and working exhibitions at the Woodworks Museum trace the development of the forest and timber industries, which historically ranges from often dangerous manpower-intensive operations to mechanised and safer processes.
The Museum was granted to the Gympie Regional Council by the Qld Government in 2009. In 2011 the Museum was leased to Private Forestry Service Queensland Inc. under a 10 year Management Agreement. All those now working on the site are either volunteers or paid employees of Private Forestry Service Queensland.
Woodworks Museum and Interpretive Centre
The Museum building is notable in and of itself. Built chiefly from rough-sawn tallowwood and spotted gum, the construction reflects the bush-style architecture that follows the rolling topography of the site, resulting in a multileveled building with a sunken demonstration pit and exhibition areas. Mezzanines above the pit provide excellent vantage points for visitors to watch demonstrations.
The building is made from Australian timbers:
Tallowwood – grows coastal from as far north as Maryborough and Fraser Island down to Newcastle, New South Wales.
Spotted Gum – grows coastal in southeast Queensland, as far north as Maryborough, and coastal New South Wales.
Northern Silky Oak – grows in northeast Queensland, as far north as Rossville and as far south as Townsville.
Hoop Pine – grows coastal Queensland and very northeast New South Wales.
Ironbark – grows coastal as far north as Brisbane, Queensland and as far south as Bermagui, New South Wales.
All structural timber and flooring in the building are of tallowwood and ironbark, milled from specially selected trees. Internal linings, ceilings and external weatherboards are spotted gum. Banisters, doors and window frames are silky oak. The entirety of the offices, including the ceilings, are lined with hoop pine.
Traditional methods were used to install the galvanised iron roof, guttering and down pipes. All ironwork throughout the buildings was hand-made by the Imbil Forest Station’s blacksmith.
The fences demonstrate four styles of construction. All use yellow stringybark for the round posts, which are higher than split posts, and mainly yellow stringybark for the rails. Some bloodwood, ironbark and Gympie Messmate were also used as rails. Early settlers generally could not afford iron and steel—which was both scarce and expensive; thus they used the most readily available material, usually wood, in a variety of ways.
A detailed panel of the timber industry’s history is on display at the Museum. On this panel is a chronological timeline of significant events in Queensland relative to the timber industry.