Newell's Creek and SA Relf, Buladelah, NSW

Continuing with our stories from 2015 about those who work in the North Coast Timber industry. For the full document click on the following link

Bulahdelah is the hub of a fertile and productive region, set on the banks of the Myall River in the heart of the Great Lakes at the southern end of the North Coast timber industry.

The area has a strong background in farming, mining, tourism and timber and is home to the 'Grandis' - a flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis) reputed to be the tallest tree in NSW, more than 400 years old.

For over 75 years and five generations of the Dorney family, the Newells Creek Sawmilling Company and its sister firm SA Relf & Sons have been a foundation stone of the local economy. Current employment of the combined operation is over 100 employees, many of whom are highly skilled. The current managing directors are three brothers, Anthony, Glen and Gary Dorney, sons of Royce Dorney who started working at the mill in 1952 at the age of fifteen, sadly Royce passed away in 2008.

Despite a difficult operating environment, both mills have prospered during this time with considerable attention being paid to niche production.

Image Newells Ck, 22 October, 2014.png "These days you can't have a viable timber operation without a solid market for residue and lower grade salvage timber to support top end quota logs" said Anthony Dorney. "Accordingly, not only do we concentrate on high value products such as decking, flooring and hardwood building materials, we supplement these uses by supplying products from salvage timber for use as mining timber, a variety of specialised fencing materials, frames for the oyster industry, pallet timber, palings, pegs and other. Wood chip is sold to power stations and we even supply sawdust, a by-product of the timber milling process, to nearby chicken farms. Ultimately these fines, once enriched by the chickens are spread on pastures to act as a very effective fertiliser. With sharp increases in electricity process we also produce block firewood for which there is also a healthy seasonal demand" said Anthony.

Our hardwood timbers are normally kiln dried to accelerate, by about double, the alternative air drying process.
Image - Relfs flooring 3 june, 2015.jpg"We endeavour to control most of the components of our value-chain enabling us to quickly adapt to changing circumstances and varying market demands. We have planted a small plantation with Black Butt, Blue Gum and Spotted Gum plantations, invested in a weighbridge and a bulk fuel facility at SA Relf and Sons mill, we also employ a team of five mechanics/boilermakers to support our fleet of logging trucks and harvest machinery at Newell’s Creek Sawmill " said Anthony. (Image shows decking manufactured from Tallowood)

This is an excellent timber value-adding operation. We should all be paying close attention to these types mature, competitive manufacturing businesses because of their significance to regional economies in terms of their direct effect (employment, output, income and value-added) but also the flow-on effects to smaller firms that are dependent upon them. For every $1 that is generated in North Coast timber industries a further $0.8 to $1 is generated elsewhere in the economy. Firms such as Newells Ck Sawmilling Company and SA Relf are surely the future of regional economies.

In the words of Business Advisor, Marius Heymann, himself a passionate forester with many years of experience in forestry and sawmilling both in South Africa and Australia, “this is a straightforward mill operation with a good flow and strong emphasis on value-adding. Everything is utilised in keeping with the Company's philosophy of environmental sustainability, safe working environment for the workers and employment opportunity for the community of Bulahdelah”.

A wide range of North Coast timbers are used at both the Newells Creek and SA Relf operations including Tallowwood, Ironbark, Black Butt, Blue gum, Flooded gum, Brush Box and Stringybark to name a few of the prominent species used.