A tribute to our jarrah
Guest Contributor: Robert Koenig-Luck, Camera Operator/Editor, ABC TV
The jarrah trees in Western Australia’s South West forests are to me a symbol of strength and natural beauty.
My home, built in 1913, is jarrah weather board and iron, with jarrah floors throughout.
My ancestors, who were a part of the Group Settlement Scheme in the 1920s, cleared land in the South West for farming and harvested jarrah for building.
Jarrah is endemic to the South West of WA and was once known as Swan River mahogany. Jarrah honey has been found to have natural healing properties for wounds and is great for gut health.
I think jarrah is very special, and I love my connection to it.
- Eucalyptus marginata, commonly known as jarrah (djarraly in Noongar language) belongs to the myrtle family.
- The tree is found in the State’s south-west corner on lateritic soils rich in iron and aluminium.
- Under optimum conditions it can attain 30 to 40 m in height with trunk to 3 metres but in poorer conditions it is smaller, sometimes in a multi-branched mallee form.
- Jarrah is considered one of the world’s best general-purpose hardwoods, renowned for its versatility, durability and strength.
- The major uses today are for joinery and furniture, panelling and flooring. In the past the timber was used extensively for general construction, sleepers, poles and piles. In the 19th century it was widely used in creosote-soaked block form for street paving in Australia and overseas, fashionable Regent Street in London’s west end one of many examples.
- Jarrah is an important element in its ecosystem, providing numerous habitats for animal life – especially birds and bees – while it is alive, and in the hollows that form as the heartwood decays. When it falls, it provides shelter to ground-dwellers.
- The Jarrah Forest supports 29 mammal, 150 bird, and 45 reptile species. Mammals include the numbat, Gilbert’s potoroo, western quoll/chuditch, woylie, tammar wallaby, western ringtail possum, the common brushtail possum, southern brown bandicoot or quenda, and the red-tailed phascogale. Most of these were once widespread vertebrate species but are now limited to the fragmented areas of the forest.
- Amber coloured honey sourced from the jarrah forests is in high demand for its full-bodied nutty flavour as well as its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It is considered one of the world’s premier “healing honeys”.