DEATH OF LAST TIMBER TOWN
By BELINDA SCOTT
BOSTOBRICK, the last timber town on the Coffs Coast, will pass into the history books with the closure of Boral's timber mill next month.
The closure is expected to be a body blow for the tiny hamlet of about 50 residents, which has already lost its shop and school and now retains only a public telephone.
The mill, which employed 22 timber workers, is the largest private employer on the Dorrigo Plateau, which already has high unemployment, and the plateau's last commercial timber mill.
Shocked workers said yesterday they had known nothing about the closure until Wednesday.
Half of the 22 doomed timber millers have never worked in any other industry and many cannot leave the Dorrigo area because of family commitments. One worker has just signed a mortgage and another has been at the mill for more than 40 years.
Seven families are facing a particularly devastating blow, because they are losing their homes as well as their incomes.
These families live in cottages belonging to the mill and Boral has asked them to vacate these houses by August 15.
"It's a double kick in the teeth," said mill worker Cathy Harton, who will have to leave her home of five years in August.
"They gave us the sack and told us to get out. I'm sick to the stomach 24 hours a day.
"We'll be lucky to even pick up any casual work. What are they going to do with the buildings when they kick us out?
"I cry when I walk past my garden because I did so much work on it and now I'll have to leave it."
Pushing the workers out of their cottages was described yesterday as 'unconscionable behaviour' by Richard Jones, a Bostobrick resident and a former President of the Dorrigo Chamber of Commerce.
"There is no pressing need for these cottages to be used for other purposes, and if they are untenanted they will subject to fires or vandalism," Mr Jones said.
The loss of the 22 jobs would affect schools, bus runs, the bushfire brigade and sporting clubs in addition to lost income for other workers like truck and timber jinker drivers.