In 1983, Australia’s infamous Ash Wednesday II saw more than 180 fires sweep across South Australia and Victoria, in winds of up to 110km/h. Seventy-five people lost their lives, with thousands becoming homeless. Other casualties were the extensive pine forests, the biggest industry in the South East, which affected people’s livelihood.
What to do with all the burnt timber? From what I can gather, the world’s biggest timber salvage began and, up to three years after the fire, trees were collected and kept submerged or wet in Lake Bonney, a freshwater lake near Mt Gambier, for use in the decade after.
The feature bench, or series of seats, for Becky’s squares, and Xingfumamas pull-up-a-seat, were salvaged trees that were removed from water storage in 1987, sawn, dried and preservative treated to act as a lasting reminder of the fire devastation and salvage operation.
They are outside the Umpherston Sinkhole in Mount Gambier, South Australia. I believe that the timber shows no signs of damage when salvaged in this way and can be used for building, furniture and all other usual purposes.
Far to the South East of South Australia is Mount Gambier, a region named after the volcano that erupted there about 5000 years ago. The geography of the area is dominated by volcanic activity and there are a number of impressive sinkholes, among which Umpherston is perhaps the most impressive.
James Umpherston created the garden in the sinkhole in 1886, leading to its other name, The Sunken Garden.
Originally a limestone cave, formed by the erosion of waves on rock, the top platform gave way to create the sinkhole and the topsoil is ideal for plants.
It’s depth and beauty are to be experienced, as capturing the dimensions is quite hard and the beautiful arrangement of the cascading ivy wall, rows of hydrangeas, palms and other foliage can best be appreciated from one of the many benches.