History Matters || Wood vital to pioneers

Moredun school C. 1903 with teacher Sidney Stains, while some pupils in the image include Frederick Palmer, Walter Palmer, Clifford Palmer, Edmond Cunningham and Mary Tarrant.

Moredun school C. 1903 with teacher Sidney Stains, while some pupils in the image include Frederick Palmer, Walter Palmer, Clifford Palmer, Edmond Cunningham and Mary Tarrant.

Wood played a large part in the lives of our pioneers who were forced to sleep beneath their wagons, in tents or under shelters of branches and bark until they could erect something more substantial.

Some of the earliest buildings were made of slabs with wooden shingle roofs or bark roofs held down with poles, as is seen in this photo of the Moredun school.

The shingles would be fashioned by splitting wood along the grain with an L shaped tool called a froe, and fixed with hand forged nails.

The slabs were roughly cut causing gaps and inside, the building could be lined with hessian onto which was pasted newspaper and or for those who could afford it, wallpaper.

Undulating movement between the slabs and the covering could betray the progress of rats or snakes.

In the museum we have re-erected an original slab cottage.

In the museum we have re-erected an original slab cottage.

A surely uncomfortable example of the frugal nature of the settler's habit of 'mend and make do' is a sandal that has had the sole replaced with piece of wood, the leather upper attached with a metal strip.

Children's toys such as whistles, balls, and tops could be fashioned from wood.

Availability of certain types of timber influenced the land purchase of hurdle-maker settler John Kneipp who had first been granted a licence to cut timber in 1863.

In Dundee the Land and its People Eileen Hartmann writes of the reasons that he chose to settle on 'Gum Flat', Dundee.

"Two important reasons for choosing this particular piece of land.

"His wife Caroline wanted to live on a property with plenty of running water and John himself wanted access to suitable timber for hurdle making.

"Gum Flat fulfilled both these requirements."

Hurdles were individual wooden fence panels used by shepherds to form temporary yards to protect sheep at night.

The shepherd's 'home' was a portable wooden box.

The museum is open in the usual hours again, but if you cannot visit you can still have a wander through by looking at our very popular Virtual Land of the Beardies Museum Tour with this link.

We are very grateful to Steve Earl assisted by Chery Muldoon for producing it for us.

It's had rave reviews!

Eve Chappell manages the History House museum