Home » Forest Lake History Part 10 – Forest Lake Timber

Forest Lake History Part 10 – Forest Lake Timber

The Lake News    August 4, 2023    6 min read   

From “Before Forest Lake” by Vicki Mynott

Adapted for print by Jamie Furness

Homestead Park in the north of Forest Lake is the site of the earliest settlement in the suburb, and was home to Archerfield House. The Archerfield Estate included all of Forest Lake and much more.  

Brief history of Archerfield Estate:

1876 – Henry Farley, “The Father of Forest Lake,” was the original selector of the land including Forest Lake, and built his homestead, Archerfield Estate, in Homestead Park.

1882 – The homestead was purchased by the Durack family and unsuccessfully mined for coal.

1888 – Purchased by Patrick Perkins.

1893 – Taken over by the Queensland Investment and Land Mortgage Company.

1915 – Bought by John Henry Hart.

1932 – Archerfield Tobacco Lands allowed to lease part of property.

1937 – Brisbane City Council resumed over 30% of property – 4000 acres. Part of this area later became  Forest Lake.

1942 – Archerfield Station used for US army military base in WWII for military weapons

Sawpit in the forest. Source: SLQ.
Sawpit in the forest. Source: SLQ.

Timber Getting

Forest Lake is not misnamed – it was once part of a vast area of forest, originally containing some of the biggest and best timbers in the Moreton Bay region. In 1843, following free settlement, Lands commissioner Stephen Simpson set up his station at Woogaroo (Wacol) partly to police timber licences and the forests of the Woogaroo/Goodna Scrubs. The more valuable timbers (such as cedar) were certainly harvested then, so Timbergetting was the first economic activity in the Forest Lake area.

Timber contributed an important resource for developing Queensland. Traditionally it provided material for buildings, firewood for homes and fuel for factories. Then from the mid-1800s, the new invention of telegraph, railways and then electricity required huge amounts of timber for their expanding networks.

The value of timber on Archerfield Estate was recognised by the early owners – and Michael Durack pointed this out in an advertisement in 1883 (see below). In the 1800’s, the southern border of Archerfield Station abutted a huge government “Timber Reserve” in the Logan area (now part of Greenbank Military Training Area). Into the 1900s, bullock wagons took logs from the Archerfield area along Johnson Road.

Some Archerfield timber was certainly used for both the railway and the telegraph lines from Brisbane to Ipswich, and over the following decades the Archerfield timber reserves were well known … “Some big grey ironbarks 80’-90’ (30m) high came out of Archerfield Station in the 1920’s.” (Bob Eason, 2008).

Truck loading the logs, 1940s. Source: SLQ.
Truck loading the logs, 1940s. Source: SLQ.

In 1938 the Government was planning to establish a Forestry Reserve at Archerfield, although this did not eventuate. 

The timber was of good quality, but perhaps the location was a disadvantage. The first timber felled in the colony was close to transport – at first the river and later the railway. Archerfield timber was close to neither and so was cut quite late – and much of the remaining forest was not cleared at all until Forest Lake was established in the 1990s.

“Dad saw this old bullocky felling timber in Hancock’s holdings (Forest Lake/Heathwood). It must have been in the late 1970s – which would make this one of the last working bullock teams in Queensland, I reckon.” (Allan Johnson, 2008 in Pallara, School and Community, 2009.)

“We came in the 70s, and behind us it was dark along Oxley Creek, the vegetation was so thick. Then an old bullocky thinned it out, taking just the best timber trees … it was amazing to see a bullock team working in Pallara in the 1970s.”  (Laurie Roscow, 2008, in Pallara, School and Community, 2009.)

George Sirrett and his bullock team, 1970s. Source: Sirrett family.
George Sirrett and his bullock team, 1970s. Source: Sirrett family.

The Pine Plantation

Hancock Bros, timber merchants, held much of the Archerfield land for almost fifty years – from 1940 to 1988. They trialled a pine plantation, but it proved unsuitable and they didn’t harvest much timber. The forest remained virtually untouched for decades.

Forest Lake’s “Pine Village,” one of the earliest villages to be developed, acknowledges the site of a pine plantation planted there.

“When we came to Ellen Grove (in 1980), the pine plantation was still up across Woogaroo Street. A local fellow had a contract from Hancocks to plant the trees, and his daughter used to get pocket money by helping. Then in 1990 they started clearing the pines when they were putting in Forest Lake Boulevard. They just felled and burned them – the trees must have been too young to be valuable.” (Jenny Stedman, 2008, in “150 years – in Brisbane’s South West”, 2010.)

Hoop Pine Plantation - 16 years old. c1950. Source: State Library Queensland (SLQ).
Hoop Pine Plantation – 16 years old. c1950. Source: State Library Queensland (SLQ).

Finally, the forest influenced plans for the development of Archerfield Station – and the names chosen for those plans. In the mid-1980s, Hancock Bros. developed a vision of “Woodlands” – an integrated suburb set among the forest and since the 1990s, the dominance of the forest in the area has been reflected in the name of the suburb – Forest Lake.

“To be let on a lease, for a term of years, a portion of that valuable property known as ARCHERFIELD …

The value of such a lease is much enhanced by the right conceded of felling, cutting and disposing of the timber (subject to the owners requirements for his own immediate use), which, considering the scarcity of available timber in the Brisbane district, is a great consideration.

The timber on this place is extremely plentiful and well grown, and consists of ironbark, blue gum, spotted gum, bloodwood, swamp mahogany, and others of the useful timbers.”  (The Brisbane Courier, 6 July 1883 p6).

In 1929 on April 6 (p30), the Brisbane Courier estimated there to be 4 million superfeet (square foot of mill timber) on the property, and a large number of electric light poles, as well as plenty of firewood.

On September 30, 1938 (p7) the Courier Mail reported that there were plans to make Archerfield Station into a forestry reserve as part of the State Government’s full-time work scheme, with men employed to improve on present timber growth and development in the area. The reserve was to be complete with recreational facilities, and a natural home to kangaroos, wallabies and brumbies.

However, the government decided not to go ahead with the proposed forestry project. Brisbane City Council auctioned Archerfield Estate in early 1940, and it was bought by Ipswich timber merchant CV Hancock. 

Timbergetter, horse/railway sleepers, c1950. Source: SLQ.
Timbergetter, horse/railway sleepers, c1950. Source: SLQ.

The Lake News thanks the Richlands-Inala History Group for providing this article. 

The group meets on the second Tuesday of each month (except in January) from 9.30 am for a 10am meeting at the BCC Inala Library Meeting Room, Corsair Ave, Inala

For enquiries contact secretary@rihghistory.org.au

The Lake News

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