Bye timber

Bye timber

It is the end of an era for the local timber industry as Alan Light, known to everyone as Jack, decided last month to retire after 49 years.

Among the places Jack worked during his nearly five decades in the industry were Waygara, Powelltown, Newmeralla, Bemm River, Nayook and Noojee, where he worked in probably every position the mills in those locations had available.

This stood him in great stead when he landed the manager’s position at Auswest Timbers Orbost (Brodribb) Mill in October 2000.

At that time the Orbost mill produced mainly battens and structural grade timber for the housing market as well as cutting large end section beams from the large logs that were still available to the mills back then.

In 2006, Brickworks Australia acquired the sawmill from Auswest Timbers. Since that time the emphasis has been on board production for the Auswest processing plant at Bairnsdale.

Jack saw many other changes during his time as manager at Orbost. With the mill being taken over by Brickworks he had to update his computer skills to enable him to work his way through the reporting systems and the ever-increasing occupational health and safety requirements. These changes, however, meant Jack had to spend more time in the office and less time in the mill.

Throughout his long career Jack witnessed many changes in the industry, the biggest change being the reduction of available timber harvesting areas and the log sizes.

As a result of this reduction in logs available the number of timber mills in the East Gippsland area diminished with Auswest now being one of the few mills enjoying a guaranteed log supply for the foreseeable future.

Jack believes he was lucky when he arrived at Auswest to have good office staff and reliable employees. Many were already at the site on his arrival and are still there today.

As Jack prepares to retire after a lifetime in the timber industry and as the final chapter of his career comes to a close, his one real regret is that he will not get to witness the proposed changes and upgrading of the Orbost mill, which is now imminent. It is hoped that these changes will secure jobs for the employees and the future of the mill.

In retirement, Jack, and his wife, Sue, are planning to make full use of their motorhome by travelling to parts unknown and spending more time with family and friends while ticking off their bucket list along the way.

Picture: Stalwart of the local timber mill, Jack Light, will retire after nearly 50 years in the industry.


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