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Sawmill models and tool display

Historical Photo
Recent Photo

Status: Static display

One very special exhibit at the Alexandra Timber Tramway is the working sawmill model, mill settlement and tool display housed in “Ernie’s Room”.  Ernie Le Brun started work in the Rubicon Forest in 1927 and, apart from service in the Second World War, he and his wife Rose were to live and work there almost continuously until 1962.  The models Ernie built for the ATT are a major part of his legacy to the heritage of the Rubicon Forest.

Ernie became “bush-boss” for the Rubicon Lumber & Tramway Company, and specialised in rope-work for winches.  Where steep terrain was encountered, a useful method of rigging the wire ropes for the winch was to put them up a tall tree.  This tended to raise the nose of the log off the ground, clearing obstructions on the ground more easily.  This technique was called “high-lead snigging”.

To get the bull and gin-wheels up the tree, a specialist “high-climber” was used.  This was one of the many skills mastered by Ernie Le Brun, and his climbing gear is on display today at the ATT.  Special spurs were attached to the climber’s feet.  These projected on the inside of his legs below his boots and were dug into the tree to obtain a foothold.  A wide leather belt and a rope around the tree allowed the climber to keep his balance.  This was slow, difficult and dangerous work, especially if the top of the tree had to be cut off to get the rigging high enough.

To complement Ernie’s models and climbing gear, there is a display of timber workers’ tools and a wide range of photographs showing work at the mills and on the tramways.  In addition, there is a video presentation outlining the story of Ernie and Rose Le Brun as told in their own words.