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Brooweena sawmill closure destroys a family of workers

Manager Roger Fallon and workers at the Brooweena sawmill.
Manager Roger Fallon and workers at the Brooweena sawmill. Valerie Horton

A BAND of brothers is unloading the final order of timber and enjoying the final days at a job that is also the heart of a town.

The Brooweena Sawmill has been given the order to close after workplace health and safety officers deemed one section of the mill - a single bench - unsafe for workers to operate.

The mill employs 15 people but the flow-on effect of the closure will hit contractors and the timber production industry of the Fraser Coast.

Managing the family of workers is Roger Fallon.

He has been in the timber industry for about 40 years and has been manager at Brooweena for 15.

The town was built around the sawmill in 1924 and Mr Fallon believes the closure could spell the end for the town.

"It'll turn into a ghost town," he said.

"The sawmill is Brooweena."

After 89 years in operation, the mill will close for the final time on Thursday.

"It really will be a sad day," Mr Fallon said.

"All the people in the town say when the mill's going you don't feel lonely."

Above all the issues surrounding the closure, Mr Fallon feels for his workers - all have dedicated themselves to the mill.

"A lot of them have mortgages like everybody else," he said.

Some of them might get work locally with the local property owners but there won't be enough work for everybody.

The workers are like a big family.

"We have a lot of banter and a lot of fun in-between work," Mr Fallon said.

Robertson Bros Sawmills owns the mill and an upgrade is still possible, but it is not as simple as installing a new bench.

Mr Fallon said it would take a year to manufacture and install the equipment.

Saw sharpener Tony Rogers is one of several generations to work at the mill.

He sharpens the teeth of all of the saws in operation.

"After doing it for so long it becomes second nature," he said.

"My grandfather and mother worked in the mill."

The flow-on effect will hit the Fraser Coast with most of the timber locally sourced and deals often done with businesses in Maryborough.

Mr Fallon is hopeful one day the sounds of the mill will echo through Brooweena again.

"My vision is, I suppose would like to see the mill reopen and to bring the town back to life," he said.

The 64-year-old mill manager is remaining optimistic for the future of his workers.

"One door closes and another one opens so long as you're willing to get off your backside," he said.

"It's no good to sit back crying in your milk, life goes on- you win some and you lose some."

Tourists will still be able to dive into the Brooweena's history at the town's historical museum.

Topics:  brooweena fraser coast industry sawmill timber



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