Smith's Mill 1912

After awhile Alfred although still working at the Metropole could see the potential in the timber industry, decided to establish a sawmill. Cuss and Sidney undertaking the building necessary to house the machinery. This was transported from Sydney by train to Ourimbah Railway Station and thence by bullock wagon over the hills (Ridge Way) to Wattle Tree Road. The mill as far as I was told was functional by 19 12-1 3.

At one time sixteen men were employed. Alfred had a manager by the name of Smith in charge of operations, while he remained at his place of employment in Sydney, visiting at weekends.
Some men travelled daily to work at the mill, while others were accommodated in a building on the rise away from the house, with bunk-like beds. Elizabeth being of a generous nature would quite often volunteer herself and Ethel to do their washing. Using three large galvanised tubs on a bench (two of which I still have) one to soak the clothes, one for washing and one for rinsing which was blued with Ricketts blue bag (a knob of blue ingredient wrapped in a piece of white lawn material). A washboard was also used (now a museum piece). When there wasn’t sufficient water in the tank the women would carry it from the creek in buckets made from kerosene tins.
I understand the mill operated successfully for several years.  Bullock and horse teams transported the timber to the boats in Erina Creek. Bad management eventually closed the mill.  Timber cutting continued after the closure of the mill, but was taken to Howard’s Mill situated adjacent to Erina Creek where a modern shopping complex stands today. Alfred being the owner of the timber continued to receive royalties.  Ethel used to tally the “super-feet” of timber each wagon carried.

With consistent wet weather, teams were unable to traverse the boggy and rutted road; holes got deeper and deeper until the wagons were down to the axles and the bullocks up to their bellies in the mud.