Tag Archives: red cedar

Preparing for a July celebration.

In July it will be 40 years I have had guardianship of this land at Huonbrook.   A naïve starting point for me, when the steep hills were struggling to support a number of cattle, many suffering from brucellosis, an infectious disease of cattle, goats and pigs, caused by a bacteria of the genus Brucella and is transmittable to humans. Kikuyu  grass, introduced from South Africa, had been planted to impede the heavy loss of soil after the forest had been removed and exported. Unfortunately for the suffering cattle,  it supplied a poor nutrient value to their diet and did not fare well with the then 2 metre plus average rainfall.

Feral dogs in packs, (older farmers left their dogs here when they moved to town) could be seen dragging new born emaciated calves into the undercover. Already dying at birth, the calves either succumbed to ticks which circle their necks or provided an easy meal for wedge tail eagles or the dogs.

Most hard wood trees had been removed and what did remain, lease holders, before my purchase, had ripped out every stag horn, birds nest and bangalow palm to sell on.  Fishing nylon line had been tied around trees to grow on  epiphytes for the city markets. Many trees had begun to die.

My first task was to remove the cattle from the denuded hills which saw the beginning of the slow recovery into what mostly is now rain forest. Cut the fishing line off scores of trees and I began to really watch nature evolve and become my teacher and guide.

Lantana followed the removal of the cattle and that I am still slowly peeling back. I am very lucky lantana colonized the disturbed degraded soil. It could have been blackberry.  Protecting the remaining soil from heavy rain and intense sun, it was an ideal cover plant to shelter the durable rain forest seeds dormant in the soil.  Peeling it back is like the removal of a wrapping on a present, beneath lies a whole new micro life waiting to be activated by light.

Herbicides, to my knowledge have never been used on this land.

Its been an incredible journey……..from the early days here, when the rainy season was fairly predictable, the gales used to arrive like clock work, to roar throughout the month of August. Not unusual then to see rain fall continually for 6 months of the year.

Not predictable any more.

Winter time was our dry cool season. Now, in 2017 the weather is entirely unpredictable as we are seeing now this second deluge during our autumn and winter.

What a poser I am……………..photo by Rodney Weidland.

Read what other communities are doing to combat herbicide and pesticide use. Dicamba, now used by our Council on sports fields despite  investing our money in a steam weeding machine.





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A beautiful tree.

Red Cedar.

The red cedar tree (Toona australis) pictured here, was one of the few that remained standing when I purchased this land in the 70s. Now there are hundreds if not 1000s growing or sprouting through-out the property.

The red cedar getters, as they were called, lived in these valleys for weeks on end as they felled what was known then as red gold. The cutters were the ones who did the real dangerous work and who received the lowest return for their risk and hard physical labour. Their living conditions were basic and harsh, shelter being damp huts where they often endured long periods of rain. I can not find out what their diets consisted of.

Many men were killed on the job. Bullock teams were used along the steep ridges and gullies to pull the huge logs to the creeks edge. Red cedar logs were easier to transport to the coast due to them being able to float high in water. The creeks in flood times were a huge asset. As I tramped over this land with all of its discomfort, (leeches, ticks, razor sharp vines and giant stinging trees) I live here in comfort compared to those men.

In Germaine Greer’s WHITE BEECH, she writes that the red cedar is not actually a cedar but a mahogany, a member of one of the seven genera in the MELIACEAE family. Several decades of argument between botanists as to where to place the Australian red cedar. Regardless of its movable classification, the tree was almost wiped out in our valleys, to build our early cities and to export from where the beautiful colour of its timber enhanced the grand homes in the UK and Ireland.

Hundreds of this tree’s seedlings I have transplanted throughout the property. Easy to transplant during the wet season the survival rates of the transplants are at least 50%.


An emerging red cedar in our present herbicide free regeneration site.








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I planted Arrowroot a couple of years ago  and no-one wanted it.

I remember is was a common ingredient, in powder form, in my Mother’s kitchen. It was preferred as a flour in thickening of soups ect. Easily digestible, it was used commonly in baby foods and as a diet product. I also remember it being a remedy for upset tummy.


Above is the so called Queensland Arrowroot, ( Cannaceae) a monocotyledonous plant, native to the West Indies and cultivated in tropical Queensland. Its starchy rhizomes are purple in colour and mature after 8 months of growth. They are used for extracting their starch and can be eaten as a vegetable.

I will try baking some soon with Garlic and olive oil.


Getting the whole body working again in lantana work is far preferable than sitting on a computer.

Two mornings past I have slashed lantana and water vines from a rosewood and a red cedar to discover a variety of seedlings beneath. Mainly rosewoods and bangalows. Its exciting to see.  To transplant some of them is on the agenda this week.


The above photo is a red cedar which was a tiny transplant from  beneath the parent tree below 18 months ago.


Life thriving in Zone 3 regeneration site.



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Crowd funding supporters. Thank-you.

To my crowd funding supporters, our autumn/winter work season has begun and I will be posting regular updates. Follow ups on the edge of the rain forest with weeding around emerging trees. A brush hook carefully slashing  lantana with an eye out for fauna habitat that has made lantana its home.  Bower birds and some smaller birds are permanent residents’

.My thanks again to all my supporters.


But will the banks support this?


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Technology and me.

A busy working week added to with the phone out when-ever it rained. Finally, Thursday I helped the Telstra lone worker replace 100 metres of damaged line. Amazed at the safety aspects with just one worker attending to the servicing of rented telephone lines. I held ladders, pulled through line and sawed branches. I imagine the same will happen when the electricity lines are privatised. One worker on the ground whereas there are 2 at least now. Time to get independent completely from the grid.


Technically a dismal week. Windows 10 I still do not have a complete handle on. I can not seem to post any of the week’s photos on here so I am disappointed at that. My new camera I am not satisfied with so am thinking of finding a new Canon digital which I have used before and been very pleased with.


But on a herbicide-free regeneration effort my 2 workers and I layered a lot of lantana and transplanted a dozen red cedar tree seedlings. Looking good too as the red cedars transplanted weeks ago already have new spring leaves.



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Red Cedar.

In Don Watson’s “THE BUSH”, he tells us that the red cedar (Toona Ciliata) is hard to find outside of a half a dozen public gardens. However, he says, dead ones abound. In Sydney town Hall, for example: the interior of this mid-nineteenth century monster, by turns French Second Empire, Italian Renaissance, Jacobean and English Aesthetic in style, swallowed an unknown number of red cedars from the Hawksbury River stands. As the material of choice among mid-Victorian designers of public buildings, unpainted red cedar turns up in the walls or furnishings of town halls, parliaments, post offices, churches, libraries, courthouses and railway stations built on the eastern seaboard before 1880. being strong, light and durable, easily carved and turned, it was put to use in house frames and picture frames, interior panelling in trams and rail carriages, staircases, doors, floors, ceilings, shutters, window frames, skirting boards, mantelpieces, veneers, boats, cigar boxes,fine furniture and coffins.
From Don Watson.

I call this my red cedar parent tree due to its seedlings being transplanted throughout this property.

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Humid and damp.

This goanna comes onto the deck every afternoon and has a slumber.
The beautiful red cedar whose off-spring has been spread through-out this property.
Rachel Siewert ‏@SenatorSiewert
Did you know its International Year of Soils? Without healthy soils we won’t have food security. Includes eliminating herbicides.

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