What has the Murtoa Stick Shed got to do with Otway history?

The Stick Shed, Murtoa


 
Built in 1941-2 to store grain during wartime, the Murtoa Stick shed is a massive 270 metres long, 60 metres wide and 19 metres high and has an almost cathedral feel inside. It is the only one left of the 22 built, most of which were located in Western Australia.
 
You might ask what this has to do with Otway history?  During the restoration project the question was asked, “Where did the poles come from?” Although the  560 unmilled poles appear to be mountain ash or messmate, for which the Otways are renowned, the 1939 bushfires decimated the area and we initially doubted that this order from the Grain Elevators Board could have been filled by Otway timber. 
 
Further research into Forest Commission of  Victoria reports has identified that in the 1941-2 year the Forrest district of the Otways supplied 646 messmate poles to the Grain Elevators Board for temporary wheat stacks at Murtoa. Poles varied in length from 16 to 60 feet – not quite as many but the same sizes as those in the stick shed, leading to the conclusion that the source of the timber was in fact from the Otways.
     
We are in awe of the bush workers ability to move this length of pole when you consider the size of road and rail trucks at the time.  We also ponder the way the history of one region of the country is related to another.
Jacky Wareham carting logs c1940
 

 
Visit the ODHS history rooms to view a piece of Stick Shed timber kindly donated to us by the Stick Shed Committee of Management.   Further information on the Murtoa Stick Shed is available here.


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