An evening in the woods

A look at the history of the West Australian timber industry offers an insight into what was at one time one of the major industries of Western Australia, supplying the British Empire with some of the rarest and hardest wood in the world, with which they built their railways.

One of the rarest and greatest forests in the world was decimated in the process, with irreplaceable giant trees, some 200 – 300 years old, cut down and turned into railway sleepers. The timber was also used to build many historic buildings in WA. Now 100 years on, this timber has become a rare treasure indeed, slowly reappearing as these buildings are demolished, to be replaced by modern ones. Up until recently, most of this valuable resource was simply crushed during demolition and taken to landfill, with no regard for its historical value, or the needs of future generations.

Terence Miskimmin of Fremantle Timber Traders has spent the last 30 years doing his best to slowly acquire this timber. He has spent countless hours on demolition sites, following his vision to salvage the timber for future generations. Howard Baum joined Terence at Fremantle Timber Traders 5 years ago and the pair have worked tirelessly to transform the business into a showcase for vintage WA timber.


It’s taken 40 men – environmental warriors and volunteers, 4 years to sort out the mountain of timber accumulated. Almost every piece has now been examined and categorised for display. Fremantle Timber Traders now produces a vast range of salvaged vintage timber products, on display in its showroom. From historical timber flooring and joists from old buildings, through to giant beams from old bridges and jetties – the variety is amazing.

“Wow we didn’t know you existed, it’s such a beautiful timber shed,” is a comment they receive frequently.

“In celebration of all the hard work done by the timber warriors over the years, and in honour of everyone who has supported them, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, they are opening the doors to the showroom in the evenings and inviting people to come and experience an Evening in the Woods.  They’re going to fill Fremantle Timber Traders with light and music –  hot chai and sparkling water for the guests. Strictly no alcohol,” said Howard.

West Australian timber is much sought after by architects, interior designers, artisans and renovators, both locally and abroad. Vintage timbers from Fremantle Timber Traders have been used in Perth homes, yoga studios in Switzerland, public walkways in Singapore, the Duyfken & Endeavour ship renovations and the Fremantle skate park.

What remains of the forests in the Southwest should be valued as they represent what is left of a once pristine environment. So the next time you have a piece of wood in your hand, take a good look at it before you chuck it on the fire…it might just be one of nature’s masterpieces with great historical significance.

Come & experience an Evening in the Woods
Doors open from 6pm – 9pm
9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22 & 23 December
41 Wood Street, Fremantle
Tel: 9335 2653

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