My most treasured souvenirs from Tasmania would have to be the simple Huon pine cutting board…

Huon pine cutting board. Bought direct from Morrison's Sawmills in Strahan for A$11! It's fabulous, small but incredibly useful in the kitchen.

and the large bag of Huon pine wood shavings!

Huon pine shavings. Large bags cost between A$2 - A$4! Bargain moth & pest deterrents.

(I have since transferred most of the shavings, along with some lavender, into pretty organza bags to use as moth deterrents in my wardrobe & linen cupboards.)

Organza bag filled with Huon pine shavings & lavender.

A prettier bag filled with those Huon pine shavings & lavender. This one lives in my t-shirt drawer. I have made numerous bags & scattered them amongst the clothes & the linens.

I love the smell of Huon pine. It’s heady, it’s relaxing, it’s deep & reminiscent of the wet forests.

Huon pines (Lagarostrobos franklinii) are endemic to Tasmania. They can be found in the west and southwest of the island, growing among river-bank rainforest and in a few subalpine lake shore forests.

As a limited resource, the tree today is wholly protected and cannot be felled. Timber can only be sourced from licensed harvesters (such as The Huon Piner). Only Huon Pine which has dead fallen or within the hyrdro-electric impoundments can be harvested. It is illegal to take live Huon pines. There are stiff fines & jail terms for those who poach. By the looks at the photographs by The Huon Piner, recovering or harvesting Huon pines is hard work!

Huon pines are VERY SLOW growing. How slow? How about an incredibly slow rate between 0.3 – 2 mm per year in diameter? Per year!  In spite of this they can attain heights of 40m and commonly reaches 20-25. You should see the cones of this amazing tree. Huon pines produce pollen and seeds from tiny cones that are around 3mm long! Tiny. Very tiny. (From little things big things grow?) Male and female cones are produced on separate trees and every 5 – 7 years a mass seeding occurs.

The tiny 3mm pine cones which contain the seeds of the Huon pine.

But Huon pines can also reproduce “vegetatively” which means branches reaching the ground take root and establish themselves as a whole new tree. (It eventually breaks away from the parent tree.) But wait, that’s not all – branches that breaking off can also take root.  This is the way populations of Huon pines which have no female trees continue to survive. One such population of male-only trees is to be found on Mt Read. It is believed this stand has been regenerating in the absence of female trees for more than 10,000 years, although no individual trees are more than 1,500 years old!

The Huon pine is Australia’s oldest living tree and is one of the oldest living organisms on earth. Individuals have been known to reach an age of 3,000 years.

The log is from a Huon Pine that fell in 2000. They believe it to be around 1500 years old!

The timber of the Huon pine is highly prized for its use in traditional boat building as it contains the oil methyl eugenol, which makes the wood resistant to rot & also the Teredo worm. Wood on the forest floor, or buried in river beds, remains usable after hundreds of years! Rather unique.

Morrison's Sawmill on the jetty at Strahan. That's a Huon pine log being sawn.

We viewed the Huon pines at Heritage Landing on the Gordon River (via Strahan) and saw the timber being worked at Morrison’s Sawmill on the jetty after our cruise (the sawmill being a fascinating tour in itself). Some of the other accessible sites to see Huon pines growing include:

Other Tasmanian timbers include Myrtle, Sassafras, Leatherwood, King Billy Pine, Blackwood & Celery Top Pine. Examples of what can be done with these fine timbers can be seen at Tasmanian Salvaged Resurrection Timbers.

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