Timber Stories: Bill Boyd
A man of strong opinions, Bill hails from a long line of timber workers and his family have been involved in bullock teams and the sawmilling game for many years in the Herons Creek district. Bill spent several years as the bullocky at "Timbertown" where he entertained many thousands of visitors with true stories of the past as well as demonstrating the skills of the bullocky and sleeper cutting. He has carried out extensive research into the history of local bushmen. Over the years, Bill has actively kept alive his skills in axemanship including using the broadaxe to make sleepers while participating in wood chopping events in various locations up and down the coast. He has become one of the legends of the timber game.
Source: Wauchope District Historical Society Archives
Bill Boyd: Bushman Extraordinaire
Throughout Bill's life he has had an association with timber. He was a sleeper cutter, a champion woodcutter, worked in forestry as a timber cutter, and was one of the first bullockies at Timbertown. Bill is one of the Boyd family of Herons Creek. His grandfather David John Campbell came to the area in the early 1880s and the family has continued through all this time to reside on the same land.
Bill's timber knowledge and expert skills are required in the conservation and restoration of timber heritage structures throughout the state. He has contributed to the restoration of the Longworth Tramway at Kendall, a post and rail fence at Vaucluse House, the Snowy Mountain Huts and a slaughterhouse at Tocal, amongst others. "I can still remember my dad 'Snow' cutting sleepers when I was only 8 years old," he said, "And how the hewn sleeper would smell and it was then I decided to be a sleeper cutter".
Source: Timbertown Archives
Bill at work in years past
Bill Boyd: Snippets of History
Thanks to a recent interview with Bill, we’re able to share a few more little insights into what life in Herons Creek was like in the old days:
“For driver’s licenses, you had to go to Wauchope or Coopernook. Those were the only stations with two policemen, so one could stay at work while you drive the other around. Mr. Broadhurst was in charge at Coopernook.”
“I used to work doing a milk run. Harry Wilman was a cream carter and it was taken to Kendall butter and ice factory. The butter then went on the train to Sydney.”
"Almost everyone had a tennis court in those days."
“Timber quotas were based on the size of your family, a single man got a smaller quota than a man with a wife and kids.”
“During the first depression, the dole wasn’t cash, it was these coupons and you had to collect them from the police station. They also had a government work program, work 30 hours and you get 30 shillings.”
“You know how to make a bush fridge? You bury a grease tin and surround it with big chunks of charcoal and cold water, this will make your butter hard enough you can’t spread it. Others had the fridge known as Kalgoorlie safe.”
“Roads were built by hand, Bill Carney was a gangman and they had work gangs that came up from the Cessnock coal mines on the train.”
Thanks to Bill for sharing these stories.
Source: Interview, 26.7.2013
Bill reliving old memories at Timbertown
Axeman earns an OAM
A Herons Creek resident has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
William (Bill) Boyd has been awarded the medal for service to the community as a traditonal woodcraft artisan and to conservation. Born in 1935 Mr Boyd grew up in Wauchope and at 14 he left school to become a wood chopper. After originally cutting trees to be used as railway sleepers he quickly moved on to supervising new young recruits. It was during his 27 years as a field officer for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) that his skills became noticed by decision makers in the field of heritage restoration. At NPWS, Mr Boyd used traditional techniques to restore heritage buildings and his workmanship is still remembered as first-class by NPWS planner Margaret Bailey, who supplied a reference for his OAM.
Bill has since been featured in documentaries on wood crafting, had his photograph published in books on the subject, received a number of awards and can now add an OAM to the list. Mr Boyd said his proudest achievement - beyond any award - is the restoration of Coolamine Homestead in Kosciuszko National Park. "Because of the terrain and the climate, we could only work twice a year for two months at a time," he said. "It took us six years." When fire threatened the area he said he called the crew personally to save the building.
Mr Boyd has been a member of a long list of associations including the Lions Club in Wauchope, the North Coast Axemans Society, the Kendall Heritage Society - including six years a president - to name a few. He also spent three years demonstrating his wood-chopping skills at Wauchope's heritage theme park, Timbertown.
"I trained hundreds of Port Macquarie fellas to cut trees," he said. Mr Boyd lives on 40-acres known as "Timberlands,' which has been in his family since the 1940s and has two children, Tom and Tracey.
He said he owes much of the award to wife Betty who proudly nominated him for the OAM. "It's a team effort," Mr Boyd said.
Source: Summarized from Camden Haven Courier, Feb. 1, 2011