Rest Point Saw Pit

The Rest Point Saw Pit; a slice of history that's worth a look. Pic: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

The Rest Point Saw Pit; a slice of history that’s worth a look. Pic: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au

As one travels down Rest Point Road, an intriguing sign captures the interest; “Saw Pit”. Walk down a short track and find only the second restored saw pit in WA. The first is in the Brockman Forest.

The restoration of the saw pit here in Walpole took place in July 1979, by the joint efforts of the National Parks Authority (as the Department of Parks & Wildlife was then known) and the Walpole Forests Department.

When the restoration was undertaken, the pit itself was in its original condition but the bearers and log were renewed. The saw mounted in the log was donated by the Plantagenet Historical Society.

It is thought that the saw pit was originally dug between 1860 and 1865; well before Walpole settlement.

The site was strategically chosen on the lower side of the trees selected to be milled so that when felling was complete the trees could be rolled downhill and positioned over the pit. However, it was often necessary to manhandle the logs into position.

The saw pit was operated by three men: One would stand at the top whilst two took up their places in the pit. The first man raised the saw after each stroke while the others provided the cutting power.

The timber was transported to the water, loaded on to a sailing boat and taken to Albany. The 25m boat had a wide beam and shallow draft for crossing the sand bars and it is said that the boats were also operated by three men. The trip to Albany took about 12 to 14 hours. This transportation method was considered a better proposition than building roads to access the millable timber around Albany.

Restoration of the pit was completed in time for Albany’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

This article first appeared in the January 28, 2015 edition of the Walpole Weekly. Molly Smith is a regular contributor to the Weekly with her “Looking Back with Molly” column.

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