The Goldfield region of Kalgoorlie has an interesting history from the Gold rush days to its present status as a mining center. The Goldfields is a place of surprising contrast, where first impressions can be deceptive. It is a harsh, dry, red brown land, which can nevertheless surprise the visitor with massive trees and a range of shrubs; it is arid country, which can burst into color after a sudden “wet” that revives a rich and divers plant life.
No where else in the world are so many different tall trees in such dry a climate. The eucalyptus woodland forest of the arid and semi arid eastern Goldfields are tall, vigorous and varied.
There are about 50 different eucalyptus species in Kalgoorlie areas, unique and well adapted, these Goldfields Eucalyptus thrive where annual rainfall is from 150 mm to 300 mm, and temperatures range from -3 C and 45 C.
Much of the Goldfield woodlands is 40 to 100 year old re growth, the result of clear felling operations undertaken for “wood lines”, narrow gauge railways that radiated out from Kalgoorlie – Boulder and other mining towns. These wood lines transported timber into mining towns and supplied fuel for boilers to generate electricity and pump water.
Both eucalyptus and acacia woodland have regenerated naturally over the years and now have come full circle. With careful management they will continue to support sustainable levels of harvesting for mine timber, fence materials, firewood, craft and specialty timber use. These woodlands are the resource base for the expanding low volume/ high value Goldfields Specialty Timber Industry, which uses boutique timbers with a variety of colors, grain and density, offering the potential for a vast range of specialty and craft uses.
This legacy of the early Goldfields timber industry is a vigorous re growth woodland, covering more than 3 million hectares. This woodland contains many unique timber species, which now flourish as a result of early harvesting, and form the resource of a new timber industry.
Current research with various Goldfields timbers is exploring such basics as sawing, seasoning, gluing and veneer production, and included trials to assess their potential for use in manufacture of musical instruments and various craft items. At present there are about 50 species being assessed. Initial results show that the hard, dense, stable wood of many Goldfields eucalyptus and acacias make excellent woodwind instruments .
There is also increasing interest in craft wood uses, as wood turners and fine furniture manufacturers seek out attractive new timbers to give them greater diversity and market edge. A range of timber products is crafted from the Goldfields woodland such as sawn and seasoned timber and novelty woodcrafts. To conserve the resources, CALM controls the amount of timber harvested through contracts and licenses, coordinates research, and provides technical advice.
The sweet, melodious tones of the flute are popularly associated with idyllic outdoor settings. Perhaps this is because, in Greek mythology, the flute was the favored instrument of Pan, the God of Nature. The modern flute, clad in its armor of silver, gold, or platinum, is actually a member of the woodwind family of instruments. There is still a great respect among flautists for the overall aesthetics of the wood, and in recent years there has been a resurgence in demand for the wooden product.
Not many timbers around the world have the density and the mass to produce the brilliant tones we have come to expect from the modern instruments.
Many of the slow growing timbers of the Goldfields are showing great potentials.
With the support of the Goldfields Specialty Timber Industry Group researchers based at the University of Washington, Seattle, have sampled a range of species, yielding some very interesting possibilities for certain timbers to create the flutes of the future. There is an intriguing possibility that certain tonal qualities might be built in to particular Goldfields species.
Source : CALM Published January 1996 Como