About Native Australian Timber

Australia can consider itself very fortunate for its diversity and it is not more evident than in its ecology. From the Maple and Kauri Pine forests of Queensland, the Cedar forests of New South Wales and Queensland, the Jarrah forests of Western Australia and the Blackwood or Huon Pine forests of Tasmania. These are but a few of the timbers used in the history of early Australian furniture making.

The early settlers searched for timber that would be durable and strong to use for ships, bulding and of course furniture. The discovery of the tall Cedar trees in the Hawkesbury and Hunter river areas became a very important commodity for comercial export. The history of the early settlers and their relationship with the Cedar tree is too long to go into detail here, but it is a fact by the 1870's the Cedar tree had become scarce in New South Wales. Unlike a lot of timbers Cedar ages beautifully enhancing the look of a piece of furniture not more evident than in an early 19th century item.

I have personally restored so many Cedar pieces of furniture its impossible to put a number on it. One of my favorites being the D.end extension table seen on my website. My next favorite timbers are Huon Pine and Blackwood both native from Tasmania. Huon Pine trees grow in the West and South West regions of Tasmania. Prized by the early boat builders for its qualities Huon Pine contains quantities of a natural preserving oil not evident in other timbers which make it easy to work with, water resistant and insect resistant.

These qualities made it the most sought after timber by boat builders. The early furniture makers of Australia were very fortunate to have access to some exceptionally grained timber. View my website for some stunning examples. Modern furniture made with Huon Pine is distinctly more yellow in colour but as it's exposed to sunlight with time it naturally gets richer in colour.

Huon Pine antique furniture is certainly more prominent in Adelaide and Melbourne and certainly almost non-existent in Tasmania. It was in the 1970's through to the 1990's that mainland Australia sought out nearly all the Huon Pine furniture from Tasmania and on a recent visit there I was fortunate enough to still see some outstanding Victorian furniture made of Huon Pine and Cedar. If you are fortunate enough to spend time in Tasmania visit the museum and art gallery in Hobart. The Georgian town of Richmond and its antique shop is also worth a visit.

Christopher Escriva French Polisher