Created By: Uki and South Arm Historical Society
In 1909 Lou Parker purchased the sawmill from a firm on the Richmond for £48. The mill was transported by boat to Murwillumbah and then barged up Dunbible Creek. From there, it was loaded onto a bullock dray and travelled over from Stokers Siding through Smiths Creek to Uki.
The sawmill had initially been destined for Terragon but when the bullock team got to the Uki site, the wagon carrying the heavy steam engines got bogged. No effort by the team could shift the load, so the owner decided that that was where the mill would be located.
When they were halfway up "Saw Mill Hill", as it was always called, logs were rolled from the wagons and nudged down to the mill. The mill was sold to Messrs G. Newall and W. Walters on January 2nd 1912.
Nellie O'Sullivan's dad, George Johnson, helped Lou Parker bring the sawmill to Uki. He was a tailer-out. He was the man that stood behind the logs as they pushed them through the rolling saws, the circular saws. He was the highest-paid man.
"When we first came to Uki, we lived in a tent on the left-hand side going into Uki, just over the bridge, on the river bank there. In a tent! Our bed was sticks in the ground with corn or chaff bags on other sticks sitting on these prongs. That was my bed. I can remember a flood came up, and Dad carried me. They woke me up, and he said, "Come on, dear, you've got to get out; the water's coming in your bed." I looked, and it was right up. I suppose it was wet underneath, and he carried me chest high up to the road.
Nellie O'Sullivan Oral Family History T.R.M. Uki
At one time, the bullock teams would leave logs destined for the mill on the triangle between Rowlands Creek Road and Kyogle Road (where the Uki War Memorial now stands) until there was room for the logs to be delivered to the mill. The mill closed in 1926, was dismantled, and the parts were sold by public auction.
At one time, courting couples would meet at the mill and spend time sitting together on the logs.
Ella Mitchell said "You know I can't recall this timber leaving this mill, and yet I can remember Lionel and I had our name in the Tweed Call, a naughty little paper written here. We had our name on it for doing a bit of courting on one of the Mill logs. "
Timber workers are often depicted as hard-working, hard living, hard drinking and hard-bitten, and possibly it is true of some of them, especially those with no family ties.
The vast loneliness away from civilisation was made up for when they hit Town for provisions. Some stayed until the money was exhausted; the cycle would commence again.
The pioneering nature of the job meant these men did not lead an idyllic life in the bush. The support of family and natural contentment with what they were endeavouring to achieve substituted for monetary gain.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Uki Village - Walking Tour