Robert Simpson Transcript
Transcript of Robert Simpson Interview
Interview with: Robert Simpson
Date of Interview: 9 August 1985
Place of Interview: Mapleton
Interviewer: Gillian Pechey
Transcriber: Heidi Scott
Begin Tape 1/Side A
GP: Mr Simpson when were you born?
SIMPSON: 26 December 1917.
GP: And where?
GP: And where were your family living then?
SIMPSON: Here in Mapleton.
GP: Had they been here very long?
SIMPSON: Well I think mum and dad well dad arrived here actually along the range between here and Flaxton in 1910. Well then mum’s family, they came from North Arm, her mum and dad were on a dairy at North Arm at that time. I think they were married towards the end of 1915.
GP: And what did your father do here in Mapleton?
SIMPSON: Well when they first came here they were on the farm. And
from the farm he got the job, I think he was working in an
office at Williamsons I think the name was, either Williamsons or Wilkinsons, I just forget, in Nambour, he worked in the office there. Well then that’s where he met mum down Nambour, she was, I suppose more or less a nurses aid.
GP: At the hospital?
SIMPSON: At the hospital those times. Well then they got married and
then they shifted up here. He, Dad, got the job on the tram.
GP: Do you know how long he worked at that job for?
SIMPSON: Round about twenty years I suppose.
GP: Did you ever ride with him?
SIMPSON: Oh yeah, yeah we used to go to Nambour on the tram.
GP: So he was the guard, there’d have also been a driver I
SIMPSON: Yeah, driver and fireman on the tram. Well then there was,
be five or six men used to sort of maintain the tram line, sort of, any new sleepers want putting in or anything like that.
GP: So it was quite a big source of employment?
SIMPSON: Yeah, oh yeah. Well then the tram, they had their own blacksmiths shop too. There was Dick & Bowie.
GP: What for?
SIMPSON: Well any repairs on the trucks or anything like that, they’d do it down there on the tramway. The blacksmith’s shop. Well they even used to make their own wagons and that for carting logs and fruit and all that sort of thing there too. They’d get the timber from the mill, the steel work from, bring it up from Nambour, somewhere down there. And they’d build their own wagons.
GP: Was the blacksmith’s shop in Nambour?
SIMPSON: No, no it was here, in Mapleton, in the tram, well what we used to call the tram yards.
GP: Is there anything marking the site of that now?
SIMPSON: Well it would be opposite the hall there, it was down in there. And they had a fairly big shed and it was divided off into, part of it, the fruit growers would bring their fruit in, in cases, and if there wasn’t a truck there to put it on, they’d stack it in the shed. Well then after the tram came back from Nambour, they’d load what fruit was in the shed on to the trucks ready for the next morning. Well then the other part of the shed was divided off, now from the Obi, there was horse coaches used to bring the cream up and pigs and whatever, they had calves and what they wanted to send away. And they had yards for the pigs and another yard for the calves, and they’d come up, if they wanted to send pigs away or calves they’d bring them up on a Sunday afternoon, and put them in the yard and then they’d load them onto the tram the next day. Well then they’d bring cream Monday's, Wednesday's and Friday's up from the Obi, well then there'd be groceries and all that sort of thing. The tram would bring up from Nambour, and they all had to be put into this other part of the shed. Well then when they come up Monday, Wednesday and Friday, they'd pick up what was there to take back to the Obi.
GP: So it was like a terminal wasn't it, a tram terminal…
SIMPSON: Yeah, yeah.
GP: So goods in fact was perhaps more important even than passengers at least…
SIMPSON: Well in the earlier days the passengers used to ride on the tram between Mapleton and Nambour, there wasn't any bus running in those times. Well then later on when the boarding houses got going they had the bus.
GP: About when would that be?
SIMPSON: About the early twenties. Johnson's, they had a fairly big car, I think it was an eight passenger car, and now there's, they relied on a bus, there was a bus, it'd only take about perhaps up to fifteen, perhaps eighteen passengers. Well they'd pick up anyone from Nambour that wanted to come up, and they'd go to either one of the boarding houses, or some perhaps relatives coming up to stay with other private people around the place. Well there wasn't so many passengers on the tram then, perhaps only ones that they'd pick up sort of on the way up and down sort of thing.
GP: Was the road okay then, after the say '20s the road became more passable?
SIMPSON: It was suppose to be a gravel road, but there was a lot, there was no gravel on it at all, well then in the wet weather you used to get bogged, two or three different places. It seemed to have no bottom in it, every time it rained you'd get bogged there. Quite often you'd get right here between here and the shop, and coming up this hill here, you'd get bogged and you'd have to put the chains on to get up the last couple of hundred yards. But I remember one time we were all on a picnic down at the beach, and the men all had long white trousers and white shirts and you know, we had a storm coming home, and I know we got bogged in this, down there near Craig's, it's a red sort of a clay stuff. Dad got this red clay all over his cream trousers, and it wouldn't come out in the wash, the stain would stay in there till the trousers were thrown away.
GP: So with your father working on the tram, or the train, what did he have to do on the trip, like what was his role?
SIMPSON: Well if there was any passengers on the tram well, he'd issue them with tickets, and then all the way down each farmer had a little, like a little mail box sort of thing, along side the line, well he'd have, they'd probably have to pick up a can, a couple of cans of cream. And fruit, whatever was to be picked up, and there'd always be a note there to hand into the stores in Nambour with orders. Well then dad used to, when they got to Nambour, they'd unload what fruit or cream onto the train, and then he'd go round the town with these notes, drop it into different stores. Well then they knew the tram as leaving say at 2 o'clock, well they'd be all round to the tram with their orders for the different ones. Well then dad used to put them out, like the first ones would be the first ones out sort of thing. Course they’d stop at each box coming up, or if there was only mail, he just throw it into the box as they went past. But that’s mostly what he had to do.
GP: What did he get paid?
SIMPSON: Probably round about five pound a week or something like that was for a six day week.
GP: So it went to Nambour six days a week?
SIMPSON: Hmm, well then if there was an excursion on the Sunday, they’d go Sunday as well.
GP: And he’d have to do that?
SIMPSON: Yeah, yeah.
GP: And he was employed by the Council I guess?
SIMPSON: Council, yes. Yeah the tram was all run by the Council. Well then their head man, sort of had the running of the tram, went by the name of Steve Hobson, he was sort of in charge of the tram's running and that sort of thing. But at times when they were busy, when the fruit season was in full swing, they'd have to run two trips, well then they had two engines. They had the one they call the Mapleton the other one was the Dulong. Well the Mapleton tram it would pick up what passengers and mail and that sort of thing and probably the cream. Well then the other tram it'd probably take some fruit and perhaps three of four truck- loads of logs.
GP: So logs as well.
SIMPSON: Yeah they took logs down to the mills in Nambour you see…
GP: They didn't bring them up though did they?
SIMPSON: Oh no.
GP: They could only pull the logs down, not up?
SIMPSON: Well they wouldn't be bringing any logs up here, then they'd have sawn timber from the mill, the sawmill here. The two tram trucks loaded a railway truck, and the mills sort of had depots in Brisbane. The main one was a Whinstanes, that’s out towards the Eaglefarm Airport, well you'd put these two truck- loads of timber onto the tram, and they'd unload it off the tram onto the railway trucks in Nambour, and then consign it to Whinstanes in Brisbane. Well nearly every day of the week, or Monday to Friday, there'd be two truck loads of timber go from here. Well then there'd be local orders, they'd be cut here too, as well. And it would be all stacked out in the yard, where different ones who wanted it. But we always had to have those two truck- loads to send to Brisbane everyday.
GP: About how many people would have been employed to get that timber to the train?
SIMPSON: Well you'd have perhaps, sometimes two, sometimes four men cutting the logs, cutting the trees down in the bush. Well then you'd have your, well in the earlier days, there was actually three bullock teams, well there's another three men there. They'd come to the mill, drop the logs off, they'd be about eight men working in the mill. Well then it'd go from there on to the tram, well there'd be the three men on the tram, plus one in the yards in the Nambour, that's an extra four. Well you could say anything from twelve, fifteen, well anything up to nineteen or twenty men be employed.
GP: Were they mostly people from Mapleton?
GP: And were they mostly people with families, or sort of people who came and camped?
SIMPSON: No, no it was mostly married men.
GP: And the families would have been the people that went to the school?
SIMPSON: The school yeah, and the shop.
GP: And apart from that, there's the fruit industry in Mapleton and the case mills.
SIMPSON: Yes, well the men employed with getting the logs for the case mills, men working in the mills. Well then towards, well when the packing shed started round about 1930. Well there was actually two men, sometimes they had packers to help them, was in the packing shed, and they'd have one man making cases, packing. Well then the tram had a siding, they'd run the trucks right into the packing shed. And as they packed the fruit and stenciled them to go to different markets in Brisbane, they were loaded onto the truck and then the tram would come in, perhaps in the morning before they left and just pick it up, and take it to Nambour.
GP: So the packing shed was down there at the tram too?
SIMPSON: Yeah it was there where the lotus garden is there, the nursery that was all levelled off in there, well they dug it out so they could have the lotus garden there later on. But one of the packers that used to come there, Bert Smith, he used to pack apples and pears at Stanthorpe in the apple season, well that would be around say from January up to about April. Well then the oranges would start coming in May, he'd come down here and pack oranges till the end of the season. Then perhaps he might have a month holiday and then he go back to Stanthorpe again packing apples again.
GP: Now the packing shed didn't open until about 1930, what did people do before that, because there was quite a lot of fruit?
SIMPSON: Well they did their own packing.
GP: Did people continue to do their own packing, some of them, after the shed started?
SIMPSON: Yeah, some of them did but then the bigger growers, they brought their fruit there. Well then they sorted them out and they were graded. Well anything under a certain size that was all put into bags and sent to Northgate for juice, juice oranges.
GP: So was it only oranges or was there anything else?
SIMPSON: Oranges, mandarins. But that was only citrus that they packed there. Well then there was some orchards that had quite a lot of custard apples. Passionfruit.
GP: So when did all this industry sort of decline? First of all timber.
SIMPSON: Well I suppose most of the citrus was out round about the war years. They sort of got a disease into them, but we had a couple of very wet years, and the citrus got what they call rootrot, and well a lot of them, well I suppose 90 percent of the trees all died out.
GP: Where did citrus move to, do you know? It must have, the industry must have moved to somewhere else.
SIMPSON: Well about the time the oranges were going out here they planted the areas up round Gayndah and Mundubbera and around there.
GP: Bit drier up there I suppose.
SIMPSON: Hmm. Yeah well that was the next biggest area after the Range here.
GP: And the timber, there’s no mill here anymore is there?
SIMPSON: No, there’s no mills at all here now. When did it start, about, in the fifties, the mills were all put on a quota sort of thing, that they’d only, say this mill here, it might have been on perhaps two hundred thousand a year, well it was cut back to say seventy five thousand. Well it wasn’t enough to sort of keep the mill going full time. Some of these owners, well now Hornibrook’s, they had a mill at Flaxton, down Mill Road there near the bamboos, they had this mill here at Mapleton, they had a mill at Conondale, and they also had a mill in Brisbane. So what they did was shift their quota say from Mapleton Mill, to the Conondale Mill, and the other small mill at Flaxton, they shifted it’s quota to the mill in Brisbane. So by doing that they could keep two mills running full time, where they couldn’t keep four mills. So this was one of the mills that was closed down.
GP: Yes, do you remember when that happened?
SIMPSON: Well Hornibrook's sold to the Thurechts…
GP: We can find that out anyway.
SIMPSON: Yeah. Then Thurecht’s had a mill at Caboolture, and then they had another mill at Redcliffe. Well the licence that they bought off Hornibrook, they shifted it to Redcliffe. I don't know, I don't know how it worked, but it's something after that style.
GP: So was there, the control of the timber industry, and it a state thing or was it just a private business?
SIMPSON: No it come under the Crown, the Crown Law.
GP: Oh yes, so the Government said right you'll cut this much timber from Mapleton?
SIMPSON: Yeah, well see actually Hornibrook had these mills here say, Lowes had a mill in Nambour, Colless had a mill in Nambour, Wilkinson's had the mill at Yandina. Yeah they were all drawing off this area.
GP: So who worked out how much timber each of these mills would get from here?
SIMPSON: Well I suppose actually the Government sort of put them on a quota sort of thing. There was, after we started snigging with tractors and hauling with big semi-trailers, there was more timber was sort of going away from this area than what they were cutting here at the mill here. Well even now they cut, the Colless's, Young's at Palmwoods, Cunning's and then Patterson's at Mooloolah, they are still carting logs from here down there.
GP: When did the bullock teams go? Twenties?
SIMPSON: I think it would be early thirties before they were still using the bullocks.
GP: Did you ever have anything to do with those people and the bullock teams?
SIMPSON: Well when we were kids we used to go out with the bullockies on the weekend, they used to work Saturday, Sunday any days at all those days. But on school holidays we used to go with them. One in particular used to always have a horse with him, horse, saddled horse with him, be hanging on the back of the wagon. And sometimes us kids we'd ride the horse, sometimes we’d walk. One time we were out there, it was fairly wet, and they couldn’t use their wagons and they were snigging from the bush to the mill with the slide. They had a fork of a tree, they’d find a tree with the right type of fork and they’d sort of cut it out and slant it in, and the logs would sort of sit in and that would keep the nose of the log up out of the mud, and make it a lot easier for snigging too.
GP: So it would be sort of one log at a time?
SIMPSON: Oh no, they had chains with what they call snigging dogs. It’s s short length of chain with two hooks, and they’d drive the hooks into that log and the hooks in this log, and one log would sort of slide along behind the other. I remember one time we were out there with a brother, he was only about four year old I suppose and there was two or three of the Cogill boys and myself. We were walking along, and they'd have little bits of pads, like the road would be here and it would have a little bit of a pad off along the side that we used to walk along instead of getting in the mud. Now there was two or three of us walked along, and the brother was next, and a blooming black snake must have come along and bit him on the instep, here. Anyway we were lucky that Frank had his horse with him, and he jumped on the horse, grabbed Neil under his arm, and galloped in from about three mile out. When he got him in here he was just like a lump, lump of wet rag over his arm. They cut his foot and put Condies Crystals in it, well the bus driver drove him to Nambour to the hospital.
GP: Did he survive?
SIMPSON: Yeah, he survived. That’s how it used to get the logs in the wet weather. It was either do that or else the mill would have to sort of close down. And they were on a daily wage, they get so much a day, I think they were on a pound a day I think. And you know, that’s how they used to get the logs in the wet weather.
END SIDE A/BEGIN SIDE B
GP: I always wondered how, they got this bullock team and you got this wagon, long wagon to put the logs on, how they got the logs on top of those things?
SIMPSON: They pulled them up with the bullocks. They’ve got the wagon standing with the four wheels, they put two skids up onto the wheel, on each side, like the wheels are sort of running this way. You put two skids from the ground, perhaps ten or twelve feet long sort of thing, up. And then on the other side they'd stand tow, what we used to call a policeman, up inside the wheel on the other side. Well then the bullocks would be out…
GP: So would all of them, would all the bullocks go, you'd have to sort of move them over there.
SIMPSON: Well it all depended on the size of the log. If it was a big log, well they'll perhaps have practically all the team, whereas if it was a smaller log, perhaps they'd only have half the team. But they'd have a chain from the bolsters on the wagon, down under the skids, under the log and up over the top, and across the other side. Well then they'd hook the bullocks on, and they'd pull off on there, and as they pulled off, the log would roll up the skids. They might have perhaps two or three smaller logs on the bolsters, well then they'd shift their skids up on to the top of the log, and perhaps roll another couple of logs on top of that. It used to take them quite a while to do their loading, but that's how they used to load the wagons. Well then later on with the tractors, they pulled a couple of bullock wagons behind the tractor, and bring the tractor right in from the bush. Well they used to work night and day with that. They were out there one night, and they had the wagons, they were loading the wagon, a fairly big log it was…
GP: How big?
SIMPSON: Oh, be perhaps five foot through it, in diameter. Anyway they were loading this log and where they had the wagon standing it wasn't real level, they should have sort of looked it out before. But as the log come up onto the wagon it rolled over against the policeman, on the side, and of course the whole wagon and everything tipped over. And there was a sapling, perhaps ten inches through it, hit this sapling and it went straight down across the top of the tractor, killed the fellow that was driving.
GP: There were a few accidents weren't there?
SIMPSON: Oh, yeah, yeah. But it was just well it was just a bad position where they tried to load the wagon. You could have been on level ground…
GP: So you had to have a bit of experience and skill?
SIMPSON: Yeah, yeah. Well they had an offsider with them, and they always had an offsider with them. If anything went wrong well he ran from out there, three miles at night time, into the here to tell us that Jeff was killed by a tree bout there. Well then they had to get the police up and the ambulance and onto thing and another. We all went out and carried him, perhaps a mile up out of the bush to where the ambulance could get there.
GP: These logs that you used to cut, you hear stories about that are sort of five and six foot through, did you cut many of them?
SIMPSON: Oh yes, in the early days, they weren't allowed to cut this small stuff like they're cutting now. It had to be at least six foot girth, well that's circumference on a tree.
GP: That would be terribly heavy to move.
SIMPSON: Oh yes, the bullocks used to do it.
GP: How long would they be? You'd have to cut them into pieces I suppose.
SIMPSON: Well those bigger logs, well the shortest length they cut in was eighteen foot long. Because a tree that's eighteen foot long, when you're cutting it up in the mill, you can cut three-by-two's, that's studs that you nail your walls onto. Well you can get two studs out of that one length. And if it's under that well you can only get one stud, and the rest is sort of waste, sort of stuff. And they cut them to the lengths.
GP: How long would it take to cut through a five foot log, with a crosscut saw?
SIMPSON: With a crosscut saw, you'd cut it through in round about an hour.
GP: Just one person?
SIMPSON: Hmm. It's a lot of hard work.
GP: Must have had a sharp say.
SIMPSON: Oh yes, you keep your saw as sharp as possible.
GP: So they'd have been sharpening saws at night?
SIMPSON: No, you wouldn't sharpen them at night-time. You got to have good light, when you're sharpening a saw.
GP: How many people would cut through that, you know, when you say it took an hour, would that be just one person?
SIMPSON: No, just one person sawing away all the time.
GP: So how did the one person get around holding the other end of the saw?
SIMPSON: Well it's easy enough once you get your saw started. The saw will just keep straight, well then the other times, if you use a dummy on it, that's using that bike tube and the rope, it's a bit faster with that. The bike tube keeps the tension on the saw all the time.
GP: Did you ever know any of the bullock drivers well or were you just like a child when they were with you?
SIMPSON: Oh no, we knew them alright.
GP: And the bullock, did you get to know them or were they quiet?
SIMPSON: Oh yes, we knew practically every bullock they had. As I said before when we were talking, in the wintertime, like this time of the year, they'd be in the bush in the morning they'd let their bullocks go the night before. Some of them with bells on, some without bells. Now they'd ride from here out early in the morning and round their bullocks up, yoke them up. They’d bring their load into the mill, unload here, they’d go back to the bush, snig their load up, and load up ready for the next day. Well then they’d unyoke their bullocks and let them go at night. Well there was always one or two bullocks that they couldn’t find. Thirty-three thousand acres out there altogether. But all the far end was kangaroo grass between the trees, under the trees, well the bullocks loved that kangaroo grass. There was two or three watering holes, bits of creeks and that where they get water from. Well then there’s and old diary, in Cedar Creek, there was no fences or anything, well some of these bullocks would wander away, they couldn’t find them, when they went in the morning, and they’d be away all day, perhaps the next day. There was three of us had horses, and they’d say, “Cocky, we couldn’t find Cocky this morning.” They’d be other different names they’d have. “Well give you two bob if you can find him for us.” We’d be out there on the horse all weekend looking for these bullocks that they couldn’t find. Sometimes there’d be perhaps three or four away over the week. We’d find the bullocks, they’d nearly always be together when you find them, and we’d go to where the water was and if they weren’t around those areas, well we’d go down into the dairy, and that’s probably where they are. And we’d bring them back.
GP: So did they have bells on them these ones?
SIMPSON: No, they wouldn’t all have bells on, there’s only, say they’ve generally got a team of perhaps eighteen, twenty, twenty-two bullocks, well there might only be perhaps four or five of them would have bells on. Well they generally keep all together, but then there’s just these odd ones that would stray away from the rest.
GP: Were they hard on the animals?
SIMPSON: Well one driver in particular was a bit harder than what the other two were. The one driver you’d hear him yelling and squealing and bellowing, the whips would be cracking, but the other two, you’d hardly hear, you wouldn’t know they were there until you walked on top of them sort of thing. But this one bloke, he’d scream he’d scream and yell and …
GP: Did his cattle do better or worst for all that?
SIMPSON: Well I think the other two got more out of their team than he did. He’d be that mad, he’d throw his hat on the ground and he’d jump on it sometimes.
GP: And you got a job in the timber mill at some stage?
SIMPSON: I went there as soon as I left school.
GP: Did you have to ask for the job or did you sort of know it was there?
SIMPSON: Oh no, you ask for it. They were having a bit of a lean time at that stage there wasn’t much building going on and they were cutting cases.
SIMPSON: Well they had an order with the QFS sort of thing, and you had to bundle your case timber up into bundles. Perhaps for ten cases you’d have ends for ten cases, sides and lids for ten cases, it’d be all sort of tied together with like a rope, a thin rope. I used to have the job of counting them out and stacking them and typing them up, and then you’d load them onto the tram trucks. You’d might perhaps want three of four hundred cases, well you’d stack them all onto the tram truck.
GP: This was when you were say, fifteen and just left school?
SIMPSON: Yeah. Well I was getting ten shillings a week those time, well you had to work five and a half days to get it.
GP: And how long did you do that for?
SIMPSON: I suppose about eighteen months I suppose. Be around about eighteen months. Well then the timber started to pick up again, well they put me on to working one of the saws after that, I think we were getting two pounds seven and six a week. That was a lot of money.
GP: It wasn’t as much as your father got on the tram.
SIMPSON: No, no. Well see I was only sixteen then.
GP: Yeah, so the wage had a fair bit to do with age?
SIMPSON: Yeah. As each year you got a bit more of a rise. It was only a bit of a rise. I know one rise I got, I got six pence a week of a rise and they took, it put you up into a high tax bracket and they took nine-pence off. So I was threepence worse off.
GP: Did you have to fill in tax forms in those days?
SIMPSON: Your employer did that. You still had to fill your tax forms in, yeah.
GP: Were you able to save some of that money?
SIMPSON: Yeah, that’s how I could buy me first car for a hundred and seventy five pound.
GP: When was that?
GP: What sort of a car was it?
SIMPSON: It was a Willy’s utility.
GP: So that must have been a big day when you drove home with that.
SIMPSON: Yeah, it was a brand new car. Well then I kept that one till 1939, that first one had a cloth hood on it, well then I traded that in in 1939, just before the War started on a all steel body. The other one had a cloth hood and a wooden back, but this other one had a steel hood and steel back. Well it was only two hundred and thirty-five.
GP: And new?
SIMPSON: New, brand new, yeah.
GP: And did you do the mechanics yourself?
SIMPSON: Oh no, you take them down for service every so often, whatever.
GP: Did very much go wrong with it?
SIMPSON: Oh no, there was nothing much gone wrong. You did all your oil changes and all that, you did that yourself.
GP: Where did you go? Where was your first car trip to?
SIMPSON: Well I used to use it backwards and forwards to work. We were working at the mill at Conondale at the time then. You’d go over early Monday morning and you’d call in at the butchers at Kenilworth and the bakers, you’d get some corned meat and you get a few loaves of bread. And that would do you all the week, till Friday. And you come home again Friday night.
GP: Did you go down through the Obi Obi?
SIMPSON: Down through the Obi, yeah.
GP: So you were sort of batching out there?
GP: Was that Campbell Green’s mill?
SIMPSON: I don’t know whether Campbell Green bought the…
GP: He does have a mill there.
SIMPSON: Yeah, I know he’s got a mill. But I don’t know whether he bought the Conondale, Hornibrook’s Conondale mill, or whether he’s got, there was another mill, Keir I think his name was, he was on the main road, from Kenilworth to Maleny. But the Hornibrook’s Mill was up you turned up and went up half a creek. Is that the one that Green’s got?
SIMPSON: He must have that one, the old Conondale…
GP: Did you see much cedar in the early days?
SIMPSON: Well there was quite a bit of cedar up in some of those inaccessible gullies and that round about. There was a big, well there was there, before the War, sort of down in towards Kondalilla Falls between the Flaxton and Kondalilla Falls. It was twenty-three foot girth, that’s twenty-three foot round the butt. Well then it went up perhaps about twenty feet, then it forked into two trees. Well I’d say that each branch of the fork would be twelve, fourteen- foot girth those days. Well it’s standing on it goes down over the ridge, and is sort of flattens out and then drops down again well it’s standing on that little ledge. And if they fell it at anytime it would have to land down hill. The only way they could save it if they could get somebody up with a wire rope and a big tractor with a winch, and sort of pull it up the hill. But it would just smash to pieces if it went down.
GP: So most of the cedar was gone from these hills when you came?
SIMPSON: Yeah, see a lot of the earlier settlers, like Myrtle’s grandfather and his brother, they fell a lot of cedar that sort of went down into the Obi Creek. Well they used to fall the trees, say November, December and they’d get the trees, they were down at the creek, the logs were down at the creek, and then the floods came in January, February, they’d roll the logs into the creek and float them, and they float them right out to Maryborough. But there is a couple of places along the Mary River where the logs sort of got out of the flood into the back water sort of thing. Well then when the flood went down it left them sitting there on the banks.
GP: And there still there?
SIMPSON: There’re still there as far as I know, yeah. In the earlier days when they were putting the railway through, the railway only come as far as Landsborough, say in the early 1900’s. Well there was four hundred sleeper cutters in this area here, cutting sleepers for the railway.
GP: And how would they be got down?
SIMPSON: They’d cart them down with bullock teams, yeah. Well then later on, I can remember, well when the electricity started to come around into the area, they were cutting iron bark electric light poles in the Obi, and people named Mackintosh had a big hard wheeled truck, solid tyres. And they used to bring these electric light poles up from the Obi, and the only way they could get them up, what they call bolster loading on the truck, there was no semi-trailers or anything those days. There’d be a bolster in front of the radiator, and then there’d be one behind the seat, and then there’d be another one at the back of the chassis. Well they’d load a seventy footer on the outside, and they’d have perhaps a forty-five or round about that length, on the inside, and on the corners, the one on the inside they’d be able to get round the corners on the range.
GP: When would this be, ‘50s, ‘30s?
SIMPSON: Oh no, that was back in the thirties, yeah. Well then we were cutting the decking for the Hornibrook Highway bridge there, between Clontarf and Woody Point, that would be back about 1936, ’36. That’s right it was before I had my first truck. Sometimes we’d run out of logs here at Mapleton, and they’d send us over to Conondale. We were cutting this decking that was nine by four in halves, twenty-six foot long. And you needed pretty big logs to get, any amount of timber out of them. But there was one log we got fourteen pieces out of the one log. Then at Conondale we were cutting a lot of tallowwood, and it’s sort of greasy, and Sallaway used to cart it from Conondale through to Landsborough to the railway, and they had one of these big solid tyre trucks too, and we’d loaded him up, we had a crane at the mill at Conondale to lift the timber up. Anyway we loaded him up with this load of tallowwood, and he’d be going up round the elbow, going up towards Maleny, the whole lot slipped back, and he’s sitting there with the front of the truck sitting up in the air and the back sitting on the ground.
GP: What did you do?
SIMPSON: Well we had to send another truck from, I think they brought another truck up from Landsborough I think, to sort of pull him down, and then to reload all the decking there on the side.
GP: Who did that? You didn’t have a crane there.
SIMPSON: There was no crane or anything those days, had to get it back up by hand.
GP: How many people?
SIMPSON: There was probably, the whole gang from the mill went up to help. After that when we loaded tallowwood, we used to throw buckets of water on it. You’d put one load on, and you’d throw buckets of water on it, and then you put another layer on it. Well that sort of stopped them from slipping.
GP: Anything else in the timber line?
SIMPSON: The used to bring a lot of the logs up from the Obi with horse teams, they’d be pine, beech and cedar they’d bring up from there from the Obi with horse team. And that was all loaded onto the tram and sent to Brisbane.
GP: This is pre 1920’s we are talking about?
SIMPSON: Oh no, it would be in the 1920’s. One fellow, he bought a property, it was right in underneath the falls, Mapleton Falls, been out there at all?
SIMPSON: Yeah well this property comes right in up underneath the falls. And he brought this it was a hundred and sixty acre block. And I think he paid around about six thousand pound for it, and everybody reckoned he was mad for paying that much of a block of scrub it was. And anyway the first twelve months he was there, the pine, the beech and the cedar, he took out of there, paid for it.
GP: There was one thing you told me about before and that was a trip to Brisbane in a car.
SIMPSON: Yeah, that was back 1929, 1930, left here in the morning say about eight o’clock to go to Brisbane and it took up ten hours to go down. Cause there was no signboards where a road had forked off there’d be no signboard to say where it went too. And there was bog holes, you’d come along and there’d be bushes and sticks and that, where other people had been bogged and they’d put the bushes and sticks under to try and get out.
GP: Did you get lost?
SIMPSON: Oh yes.
GP: Take the wrong turn?
SIMPSON: Take the wrong turn, you’d have to come back and try another one.
GP: Did you have to get out and say, well where am I, you know, ask people?
SIMPSON: Yeah, well you had too, that’s the only way you found out if you were on the right road.
GP: Was there any bitumen?
SIMPSON: No, the only bitumen would be about from Bald Hills into Brisbane, that’s about the first bit of bitumen you’d strike. You’d come to a fork in the road and you’d look to see which had the most traffic on it, and you’d think, oh well that one looks like it s used the most, we’ll go that one. Find out you’d turn up at a farm or something.
GP: You wouldn’t be going down and back in one day?
SIMPSON: No fear.
GP: How much did the petrol cost to get there? Were there any petrol stations around the place?
SIMPSON: As you went through at each town, there’d be a place where you could get petrol. But it was only about nine pence a gallon or something in those days. One and three a gallon. When the pioneers first came here they used to, went into the scrub and fell out three or four acres or what ever they wanted and burnt it. There’d be pine and beech and cedar in that.