I was in Gympie yesterday.
When I asked the origin of a pile of logs at a saw mill I gleaned the following story:
There are over 3,000 wooden bridges on main roads in Queensland. These bridges are held up with wooden girders many of which are reaching the limit of their design life. Restrictions on harvesting from ‘old growth’ native forests in Queensland means that timber for these bridges is now being imported. These logs have been trucked the 700 km from Coffs Harbour (in New South Wales) to Gympie (in SE Queensland), to supply this need:
View image of logs, 20kbs.
Gympie was once a proud timber town (http://thecouriermail.com.au/extras/federation/CMFedSClead.htm ).
The Cooloola region is still full of forests that extent west to the famous Conondale Ranges (http://www.travelmate.com.au/Places/Places.asp?TownName=Kandanga_%5C_QLD ).
The forests surrounding Gympie are still full of trees of the same species and with equivalent or larger girths than those being logged in Coffs Harbour. But it is apparently easier for at least one of the timber mills that has traditionally supplied Queensland Main Roads to import, because they are restricted to younger forests with smaller trees in the Gympie region. Sourcing logs is further complicated because the local Forestry Department doesn’t have enough officers to mark trees for cutting.
This situation has been driven by mindless and incessant environmental campaigning to stop logging in mature native forests followed by government dollars to ‘pay off’ and/or ‘buy out’ the industry.
The following paper by Graham Murray provides information on timber bridges in Queensland and the current dilemna facing local governments in Queensland: http://www.ipwea.org.au/papers/download/Murray_g.pdf.