IWCS 2022 Mount Tamborine Conference

by Ian Heffernan #9902.

Day 1, Mon 5th Sep — Tamborine National Park, Curtis Falls & John Dickson Conservation Park. We all met in the Rafters Conference Room at 9.00 am for the Official Welcome. Geoff Holloway outlined the weeks program and gave us a detailed briefing on today’s activities. After signing the safety sheet, we eagerly set off the first of the days 3 activities. The weather was perfect as Warren, our bus driver expertly manoeuvred the bus up the winding rainforest-lined road to the Dapsang Drive carpark at the Joalah Section of the Tamborine National Park. Before our walk we enjoyed a relaxing morning tea of fruit and delicious homemade cakes provided by our local members. Geoff Holloway then led us down to the Eagle Heights Road end of the walking track which is the starting point of the walk. This track has guideposts numbered 1 to 20. Using the guide provided (USB stick in our pack) Geoff pointed out the trees of interest highlighted in the guide as indicated by each guidepost. We were all impressed with the height and variety of the trees. At post 9 we came across a large Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) with an unusual buttress root formation. As we proceeded towards Curtis Falls, the track gradually became steeper and more difficult for the mobility challenged members of our group, who had to turn back. Curtis Falls is located on the lower track and is viewed from a platform below the falls. The water then flows down Cedar Creek on its way to Thunderbird Park where we are staying.

We then proceeded by bus to the Cedar Creek Winery for lunch at 1:00 pm. We arrived 40 minutes early and many of us took the opportunity to do some wine tasting (and buying), and/or wandering through the art gallery. However, the more dedicated woodies strolled the surrounding bush to see what botanical treasures were to be found and identified. After a pleasant two-course lunch we again boarded the bus for our final visit of the day.

We met our guide from Landcare at the Freemont Drive end of the John Dickson Conservation Park (Arboretum) at 2:00 pm. She provided the background behind this community project which has converted an open 3.5 ha. (~8.4 acres) dairy farming paddock into this fine example of native rainforest. John Dickson, through the Tamborine Mountain Field Naturalists Club (TMFNC) instigated and organised the revegetation of this area. The first plantings were done in 1984 (50 trees) and by 1990, 1062 trees had been planted. It was later decided to remove all exotic (non-native) species. Further plantings have been undertaken over the years. Weed control has been and remains the major challenge. Given the oldest trees are only 38 years old, the size and height of many of the trees was impressive. Over 100 of the trees have now been labelled with the common and botanical names. A boardwalk, picnic table in the centre of the park, as well as stairs at the Sierra Drive end have been installed to encourage visitors. A list of the marked trees for this arboretum was provided in the conference handout material. Geoff thanked our guide and the bus departed for Thunderbird Park. Dinner was a buffet in the Rainforest Restaurant.

Day 2, Tues 6th Sep – Springbrook Tour

The 8:00 am arrival of the coach at Thunderbird Park was greeted by a reduced number of participants compared to the tour the day before, mainly due to a gastro outbreak. The packed lunch, morning tea, two large thermos and water were loaded, safety waiver sheet signed, all aboard ready for a 1.5-hour trip to Springbrook via Canungra, an early logging/sawmill town built in 1885 where the heavily harvested Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) and Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) from the valley was processed and transported to Brisbane. Not much further we passed the Kokoda Barracks, Army Training facility of 6,000 ha. (~ 14,400 acres). The route took us through Advancetown, past the Hinze Dam (Gold Coast water supply), then up to Springbrook National Park, stopping at Apple Tree Park for morning tea. The park was named after an apple tree which grew from a discarded apple core amongst the native vegetation which includes many large Tallowwoods (Eucalyptus microcorys) and a large Rose Sheoak (Allocasuarina torulosa).

From Apple Tree Park we travelled a short distance to Purling Brook Falls (UNESCO World Heritage site), a 100-m easy walk past a huge fallen Tallowwood to a lookout over the 106 m drop to the lush rainforest below. Moving on for another 20 minutes to the Best of All Lookout on the ridge of the Border Ranges, an easy 300-m walk to reach the 2000-year-old Antarctic Beeches (Nothofagus moorei) which were thoroughly viewed and photographed. Another 50-m walk to the lookout over the Numinbah Valley of New South Wales and Mt. Warning (named by James Cook) in the distance.

Another 25-minute drive along Ladybird Ridge Road back to Apple Tree Park for Lunch. After lunch and a chat, we headed home, again via Canungra and back up the mountain to Thunderbird Park by 2:30 pm.

Day 3, Wed 7th Sep – Tamborine Mountain Heritage Centre by Marilyn Kunde #9952.

In 1983, a vision of a small group of people created what is one of the most remarkable Historical Centres I have ever visited. As the Granddaughter and Daughter of Timber Cutters and Sawmillers I found the presentation on the Mt Tamborine logging industry so informative which helped me understand the hardship that my grandfathers endured. Grandfather George Gesch was a bullock team handler in the Mt Mee/Dayboro area and Grandfather Charles Kunde drove the blitz truck from the collection point back to the Sawmill on the top of Mt Mee (the Gantry still remains today). My Father and Uncles worked in the Raynbird’s Sawmill at Strathpine for a period, with Dad working at the Sawmill in Beerwah after dairy farming, banana plantation and small crops became inviable in the seventies. Ironic that at my Woodturning Club, I operate the Wood-Mizer Sawmill and am responsible for the overall storage of the wood we collect.

The Heritage Centre had one of the largest displays of yesteryear that I have ever seen, with a large number of the items on display having crossed my path or still in my possession around my house or in my workshop. The passion of the guides was evident and made for a very enjoyable time exploring the specialty building which the volunteers having painstakingly restored to what you see today. All of the people I spoke to after the visit were just as impressed with the Centre and the fantastic work they have done. Thanks Geoff and Bob for organising the visit.

Day 4 Thursday 8th September – Auction, Presentations by Tony Groom & Kevin Ahearn by John Lyons #9737

Thursday provided us with a chance to sit down in the conference centre and reach deep into our pockets to snap up the bargains we had been eyeing off for the past three days. To give us a change of tempo, Geoff split the auction in half around two engaging speakers. Then back to the auction in the afternoon and finally a vigorous Annual General Meeting (AGM) to finish the day.

This is the day we felt David Munzberg’s absence the most. Without him the auctioneering duties fell to Shirley Schubert, who had auditioned so successfully as David’s deputy at the previous auction in Canberra. Shirley battled her lurgy bravely but occasionally her voice needed a rest and John Lyons stood in for her.

Items at the auction ranged from sets of standard wood specimens to turning pieces and beautiful artifacts. Many had been donated by members unable to attend, including numerous contributions from Keith Towe and John Wheeler. There was even a set of paper knives from Max Marshall’s estate. For the turners, Peter Stone’s figured Candlebark (Eucalyptus rubida) was extremely popular. In the end, I reckon there must have been a dozen or more pieces and the bidding was so intense I still didn’t nab one. The highlights for me were Geoff Holloway’s set of twenty coasters featuring timbers of the Scenic Rim enclosed in a beautiful box of Rosewood (Dysoxylum fraserianum) and Silver Ash (Flindersia schottiana) made by Joanne Holloway which fetched AU$160, and Harry Dennis’s pair of pepper mills in Burdekin Plum (Pleiogynium timorense) which fetched AU$110.

The auction netted around AU$3,000 and the silent auction featuring Jan Munzberg’s beautiful quilt raised a further AU$600. These funds are essential to meet our regional expenses and a vote of thanks is extended to all donors and of course to the successful bidders.

Our first guest speaker was Kevin Ahearn who spoke on his experiences in timber getting in the Scenic Rim Main Range. Kevin has many humorous stories such as salvaging a lone tree in a paddock with his brother on some bloke’s property, on the portentous proviso that he wasn’t home when they cut it down. Hoping to drop it up the hill (sounds ominous), it

didn’t behave and dropped the other way. Kevin expected it to be arrested by the canopy and broken branches along the trunk digging into the hill. However, they gave way, and the tree took off down the hill. The fence was no obstacle, and it came to rest in the middle of the road. With help from passers-by, they were able to clear it before the owner returned. No harm done other than severe embarrassment and his brother who wouldn’t stop laughing. I’m not sure about the fence.

Our second speaker was Tony Groom on national parks of the world. Tony seems uniquely qualified to talk on this subject having established a business taking touring parties to national parks all around the world forty years ago. He has visited parks in 65 countries and speaks in awe of his experiences. His talk was sprinkled with beautiful quotes (which I should have written down)! I have borrowed one from his website which I think he used in the presentation; “national parks are islands of hope which provide peace and inspiration in an increasingly frantic world”. I think we could have listened to his word pictures all day.

Finally, we had a tidy AGM, chaired by Ian Heffernan and with Harry Dennis acting as the minutes’ secretary. Once again, we were reminded of missing our traditional chairperson David Munzberg, but of course, were kept on track with Harry’s superpower of being able to predict precisely what people are going to say and minuting it beforehand. The most pleasing aspect of the meeting was that Ian Heffernan agreed to remain Australian Trustee for another year.

Day 5 Fri 9th Sep – Wood Identification Session by Jim Schubert #8613

When I first looked outside on Friday morning, the sky was covered in dark cloud and steady rain was falling. We soon heard that the planned Tamborine Mountain Botanic Gardens tour was cancelled because of the weather. It was suggested that, instead, John Lyons and I should run a session in the conference room on wood identification.

Geoff Holloway had lots of photos of trees from the Mt Tamborine area, so the first session of the morning was spent looking at some magnificent examples of iconic local timber trees on the screen, such as Toona australis (Red Cedar) and Castanospermum australe (Black Bean) along with lots of other trees. There were also pictures of ancient Nothofagus moorei (Antarctic Beech), which we had seen a few days earlier.

After a break for morning tea, we examined a piece of wood from Geoff, which he wanted identified. I hastily pointed out that this was a difficult job, particularly because there were no clues from where the wood had originated, although Geoff told us that from the size of the flitch, the tree must have been quite large. In appearance and texture, it reminded us of Nothofagus cunninghamii (Myrtle Beech), apart from being too low in density. I cleaned up a bit of the end grain with a very sharp knife, looked through a 20x stereo microscope (courtesy of Carl Lutz) and was able to photograph the image with my mobile phone camera. Through the marvels of modern technology, this was transmitted to a computer, then to the projector and we were able to see the image on the screen. It showed many very small pores, narrow rays & irregular narrow tangential bands, presumably showing the growth rings.

Geoff had also produced a piece of N. moorei (Antarctic Beech), the identity of which was known because he knew the tree that the wood had come from! I repeated the procedure with this piece of wood and found that the two samples did look very similar with many small pores evenly distributed apart from minor variation near the growth rings, which

seemed to be made up of narrow bands of soft tissue. These were clearly visible because they are lighter in colour than the surrounding background of fibres. The rays were narrower than the diameter of the pores.

The conclusion was that the unknown wood was probably a Nothofagus species and could quite likely be a match with N. moorei. Unfortunately, that was about as far as we could go without the next step of making slides of both samples and comparing them with each other and with a list of features.

We also had a slide of a local species handy, Synoum muelleri (scentless rosewood), so had a bit of a look at the details of that on the screen at various magnifications, so that not only could the pores be seen, but the individual fibres, parenchyma cells (soft tissue) and even some of the pits between cells were visible. The wood becomes semi-transparent because of the thin sections and transmitted light rather than reflected being used, and therefore much more detail is made visible.

One important thing to remember is that wood ID is not an exact science, and a combination of as many features as possible are useful. Knowing where the wood came from is a big help with identification – the number of possibilities is immediately reduced to something more manageable. The colour, texture, density, feel and smell, etc., of a smooth surface of the wood is usually the first step, then a close look at the cleanly cut end grain with a lens of at least 10x power, or a stereo microscope of between 10-40x power.

The next stage is a bit more difficult – cutting very thin sections (15 -30 µm) if possible, and mounting on a microscope slide, then examining with a compound microscope. The next step would be to use an electron microscope, and then possibly DNA tests, but these are certainly beyond the scope of an amateur wood anatomist! To aid identification, a list of features and photomicrographs for many woods are available on the website “Insidewood.”

After lunch, we had a clean-up of the conference centre, followed by a final closing dinner in the evening at the conference centre restaurant. On Saturday morning, because it had been too wet for the planned trip, we all headed for home, or our next destination.

Despite a few health and weather problems, a good time was had by all, and a special thanks to Geoff and his team for the vast amount of planning and organisation for a successful and enjoyable conference.

Day 5 Fri 9th Sep – Evening Celebration

Delegates gathered for the final meal of the conference in the Rainforest Restaurant with two very special reasons to celebrate.

1. The successful bidder for the exquisite quilt; hand-worked and donated for silent auction by Jan Munzberg was Esther Dennis. Thank you, Jan, for the time, work and cost going into such a timeless piece, and congratulations to Esther for acquiring what will probably become a family heirloom.

2. The election of John Lyons to the position of President-Elect of the International Wood Collectors Society. This appointment is for two years, following which the President-Elect moves into the President’s position.

Congratulations John, from all our members in AustralAsia.