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A plea for the Murray Pine.

A PLEA FOR THE MURRAY PINE.--Some years ago, when visiting the Riverina district in the vicinity of Moulamein, in company with Mr. A. J. Campbell, I was grieved to see the rapid disappearance of the Murray Pine, Callitris robusta, var. verrucosa, before the axe of the settler. This tree yields perhaps the most useful of Australian timbers in the interior, being white ant proof, but, unfortunately, is generally of small size, rarely exceeding 15 to 18 inches in diameter at the base, and as the trunk tapers rapidly, it consequently takes a large number of trees to furnish sufficient timber for a moderate-sized building. At a saw-mill which we visited the waste was very great. Seldom did a log produce many boards six inches wide from fourteen to sixteen feet long. These were sold at from 12s. 6d. to 14s. 6d. per hundred feet running. Mr. Williamson, in his paper on the botany of Mildura, speaks of this pine furnishing the stakes required in the vineyards, and, as the smaller trees are used for fencing posts, the demand must soon exceed the supply. Another use to which this pine was put some three or four years after our visit was to furnish food for the settlers' sheep during a severe drought. For this purpose the friends with whom we stayed used no less than 1,700 trees, the sheep being particularly fond of the foliage. These trees, it may be mentioned, were all cut by the two girls of the family, their brother being ill in bed at the time. Notwithstanding the demand for this timber, we hear of no steps being taken to replant to meet the demand for future supplies. I have written these notes in no spirit of fault-finding, for I fully recognize the many and various uses to which the timber can be put, but to me it is lamentable that for so many years no effort has been made to provide for the future. Here is an opportunity for the Forest League to do practical work in calling attention to the immediate necessity for placing the Murray Pine timber trade under some sort of control. It seems strange that all remedies for good have to be forced physic-like on those most interested. Our own Club also, composed as it is of lovers of nature, should assist in bringing into prominence the rapid disappearance of this pine on the Victorian side of the Murray, and the urgent necessity for some steps being taken to prevent its ultimate extinction. Those who have seen a pine ridge will not readily forget the peculiar charm of the sight. We had the opportunity of visiting an untouched one in springtime, when the grass was beautifully green: the trees, dotted about as in a park, yielded delightful shadow effects in the afternoon sun, and, the base of the ridge being fringed with Bursaria and other bushes, the whole made a perfect picture of loveliness.--JOS. GABRIEL.

From The Victorian Naturalist XXX, pp. 110-111, October 9, 1913

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Title Annotation:One Hundred Years Ago
Author:Gabriel, Jos
Publication:The Victorian Naturalist
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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