In another post I looked at the history of Garfield up until the coming of the Railway, which is really the seminal event in the history of Garfield. The Gippsland line to Sale was opened in stages - Sale to Morwell in June 1877, Oakleigh to Bunyip on October 8 1877, Moe to Morwell December 1877, Moe to Bunyip March 1878 and the last stretch from South Yarra to Oakleigh in 1879. Originally, the only Stations between Dandenong and Bunyip were Berwick and Pakenham. The timber industry boomed after the railway and a series of sidings developed along the line to despatch timber such as Officers Wood Siding in 1881, where the Officer family sent firewood to Melbourne. This is now the Officer Station. Around the same time, Fraser’s Siding was established to accommodate Donald Fraser’s Saw Mill and this later became Longwarry. In the Garfield area the Railway lead to the establishment of two early industries, Jefferson’s Saw Mill and brick works and the Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company.
Joseph Jefferson established a saw mill in 1877 on the site of what was to become his clay pit, off Railway Avenue. He sent this timber out via Bunyip Station until a local siding, the Cannibal Creek Siding, was built in 1885 to accommodate the timber tramline which was constructed by William Brisbane, a contractor on behalf of Francis Stewart. This tramline run for about 8 kilometres, to the Two Mile Creek, the Garfield North road basically follows this tramway. In the same year, Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company Limited was registered in October by the Stewart family, with William Brisbane being a minority shareholder. Stewart had already obtained the saw milling rights to 2,000 acres of forest in 1883. Both Stewart and Brisbane had been involved separately and jointly in other mills and tramlines at Berwick, Beaconsfield and Nar Nar Goon. The Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company sounds like a very grand enterprise but apparently the Company was in trouble by December 1885, the tramline was disbanded in 1887 and the Company was placed in liquidation in 1888, however it deserves it’s place in Garfield’s history as the Cannibal Creek Siding, became the Garfield Railway Station.
Getting back to Joseph Jefferson, his was a very successful business, as well as producing timber products such as fence posts and rails and firewood, he also mined the sand on his property to be used in the building industry in Melbourne and when he discovered clay on his property he began making clay bricks. The 1880s was a boom time for Victoria and Jefferson could produce over 50,000 bricks per week and fire 75,000 at a time in his kiln. The Depression of the 1890s saw a decline in the building industry which flowed onto his business and the brickworks eventually shut down in 1929.
In the next post I will look at the growth of the township which grew around the Cannibal Creek Siding.
If you are interested in the Timber Industry, then a good book is Settlers and Sawmillers : a history of the West Gippsland Tramways by Mike McCarthy. It is published by the Light Railway research Society of Australia in 1999.
About this blog
This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.