Timber festival here to stay

Crowds line the streets to applaud those who have contributed to Heyfield's thriving timber industry in 2022. Photo: File


Stefan Bradley

“CAN you imagine Heyfield without timber?”

These were the words that opened the Gippsland Times coverage of the 2023 Heyfield Timber Festival, which took place in February.

As we are all now aware, soon enough we won’t need to leave it to our imaginations once 2024 comes around, with the state government announcing the early shutdown of the native timber industry.

Last year, the festival was brought back 27 years after the last event to celebrate native harvesting. In 2023, the event saw wood chopping, stunts, a carnival, free kids activities, markets, a truck show, sausage sizzles, vintage displays, dog jumping, tug-of-war, bands, bars, a parade, food trucks and a vigil at the Timber Workers Memorial.

Felicia Stevenson is president of the Heyfield Timber Festival Committee and the Forest & Wood Communities Australia National membership manager. She told the Gippsland Times the Timber Festival will continue.

“(The committee) had a discussion (Tuesday, May 23) night. Obviously we can’t get the logging trucks. We can have trucks there, but it will be pine, more or less.”

“We’re going to keep going. We need to celebrate. We want to keep the timber towns alive in some way. We need to always have the timber in some way. Keep the memories alive.”

Ms Stevenson said almost the entire town, including her family, had links to the timber industry.

“My grandad, my dad, aunt and uncles. As well as my husband and my boys. I used to work in sawmills.”

Ms Stevenson in February explained why the event was important for the town.

“It brings the local community together, it brings people to our town and it’s a part of Heyfield’s history,” she said.

“I grew up in Heyfield and remember going to the event as a child, it was a huge event. My involvement with the festival was to bring it back and create a family fun day out, and to showcase the sustainability of the industry.”

Heyfield Timber Festival organising committee members Felecia Stevenson and Aaron Ralph, flanked by former Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood and Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull at the 2022 festival. Photos: File