The Timber Getters

Australian Workers Film Guide


This government short documentary profiles timber workers in the coastal hardwood forests of the mid north coast of New South Wales, in particular the Bril Bril State Forest.

The film opens with scenes of remote forests and wildlife before revealing a timber getter camp, situated far from towns and cities. Emerging from a timber shack, a woman and her baby see off a man as he and others head to the sawmill and forest. As the footage reveals, timber cutting is tough, skillful and exceedingly dangerous. Men are seen sharpening axes and saws, scaling tall trees, chopping tree trunks while perched high on makeshift single plank platforms, dragging giant logs with bulldozers and skylines as well as loading logs onto trucks. There is one astonishing scene of a rigger scaling a 200 foot tree to chop off its crown, while precariously suspended from the upper trunk. The largely unmechanised nature of timber felling is remarkable.

At the base of a tree, the men are then seen knocking off for lunch and billy tea. Women and children are seen greeting the mail and supplies delivery that comes once a week and children are seen in school. The film attempts to paint a picture of an idyllic life in the bush, a peaceful and healthy life, a good place to save money and raise children. But the pictures of the primitive and tough living and working conditions belie the utopian perspective presented. Forestry officers are seen overseeing the planned cutting and reforesting, while sawmill workers cut logs into timber for housing and industry.  

Special Notes/Achievements

Produced by the Department of the Interior and an Australian National Film Board Production.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 10 mins 32 secs

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Film Cinematographer: Reg Pearse, Edward Cranstone,

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