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Video clip synopsis – The axemen established camps throughout the eucalypt forests in the early 20th century. Their job was a combination of skill and stamina, harvesting giant trees for the rapidly growing hardwood industry.
Year of production - 1949
Duration - 2min 46sec
Tags - economic development, environment, resources, sustainability, see all tags


Axemen Fell Giant Trees

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

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About the Video Clip


Axemen Fell Giant Trees is an excerpt from the film The Timber Getters (11 mins), produced in 1949.

The Timber Getters: In post-war Australia, the milling of our nation’s prized hardwood timbers was a rapidly growing industry. Mechanisation introduced economies in the handling, but the skill and stamina of the axe-men were still indispensable in timber getting. This short film looks at the work of the men living in bush sawmill camps.

The Timber Getters is a National Film Board Production. Produced by the Department of the Interior.

Curriculum Focus


Outcomes from this module
Students will learn:

  1. About the natural and cultural values intrinsic to the environment and how these change over time
  2. About the impact of people on environments and how the environment shapes human activities
  3. To appreciate and commit to:
  • respecting and caring for life in all its diversity
  • conserving and managing resources in ways that are fair to present and future generations.

For more detail about Environment Education
Curriculum Statements- Educating for a Sustainable Future
A National Environmental Education Statement for Australian Schools

Background Information


During the late 1940s, Australia was at the start of an economic boom, a large part of which included a demand for new houses for the soldier generation who had delayed family life for the six years of war from 1939 to 1945. Timber was a key material needed for housing construction.

The video clip also shows an industry on the cusp of great technological change. The centuries old manual methods used to fell trees were about to be replaced by increased mechanisation — for example, the crosscut saw was about to be replaced by power saws. We see a hint of this in the use of the small tractor to drag away the fallen log. One of the great implications of this change in technology would be the vastly decreased time, effort and manpower needed to fell trees, and a consequent increase in clearance rates and extent. An industrial revolution was about to occur in the industry.

At the same time modern concepts of 'environment’ had not developed. The attitude of most people was that forests were a natural resource for human use, not a source of habitat for ecological sustainability.

Classroom Activities

  1. Discuss the video clip
    1. The filmmaker presents the occupation of ‘tree felling’ in 1949 as a noble and manly occupation.
    2. Discuss and list ten examples from the video clip that agree with the above statement.
    3. What native animals are shown as living in old growth forests?
    4. How have Australians attitudes to tree felling changed since this clip was produced?
  2. In pairs, research using the Internet, how much of Australia has been logged since settlement and find three areas of old growth forest that are being debated at this time. Go to newspaper websites and other websites such as The Wlderness Society- Old Growth Forests, What is Old Growth Forest? and Cool Forests
    1. What are the issues affecting the environment through logging old growth forests?
    2. What solutions are recommended by environmental organisations?
    3. What can we do to ensure that Australia’s old growth forests are sustained?

Further Resources


Go to Planet Ark

Go to The Wilderness Society for current issues concerning logging and the environment.

Go to Paper Trail a video clip from australian screen which charts the history of logging and its effects on the environment.