Simsville and the Jarrah Mill
Myall River State Forest,New South Wales
By Ian McNeil
Published by the LRRSA
Soft cover, 96 pages, A4 size, 55 photographs, 12 maps and diagrams, references, and index
The Myall River State Forest, between Buladelah and Stroud, lies about 170 km north of Sydney. With its dense hardwood tree cover – known as the Purgatory Scrub – it was very tempting to timber companies, but its rugged terrain proved a great obstacle. This book describes the efforts of a succession of five companies, to exploit the timber. It involved the establishment of a sawmill and logging tramways in the State Forest, and outlet tramways to the port of Allworth, on the Karuah River, from where the timber was taken to Sydney in shallow-draft steamers.
A village, known as Simsville, grew up around the sawmill, with up to 100 residents. The sawmill operated from 1912 to 1947 and the book records the names of over 300 people who were associated with the operation.
The author – Ian McNeil – started research on this book 30 years ago, interviewing many former employees and residents, and the book gives an insight into the social life of Simsville, as well as the working conditions. He also carried out extensive field research, and as a result the book contains detailed maps, showing the tramway routes, the bridges, earthworks, and zig-zags. The country was mountainous, and although the tramways were well engineered, they were steeply graded and sharply curved. To work them three steam locomotives, Slippery Sam, Soward, and Daddy Long Legs, were used. They were of the Climax geared type, designed to work on rough track at very low speed.