At the recent Victorian Association of Forestry Industries (VAFI) dinner held in Melbourne the VAFI Lifetime Achievement Award was announced with the winner Max Walker from Walker’s Sawmill in Corryong. Three other industry awards were also announced on the night. Source: Timberbiz
While Max was unable to attend on the night, a number of the Walker family was at the event and it was his son Graeme Walker who accepted the award on behalf of Max Walker.
“I had the pleasure to meet with Max a little under 12 months ago,” said VAFI CEO Tim Johnston.
“In his heart and mind the mill was and still is his life.
“Walker’s sawmill in Corryong has been an institution in that region for 50 years.”
The Corryong mill is the largest employer in the region and employs 22 staff, families and the township relies on the jobs it provides and the money it brings into the region.
“Max left school at 14 and started work with his father in the bush prior to World War 2.
“He saw generations of development in the forestry industry,” Mr Johnston said.
Mr Johnston said he was glad that Max was not at the event to see the impact of the Victorian government decision on native forestry as the industry was such a huge part of his life.
Max had started working as a 12 year-old in the industry and finished working in the industry when he was in his 90s.
Mr Johnston said that although Max started working for his father as a 14 year-old he did not get paid until he was 22. He started in forestry working with a team of horses and saw many changes along the way and expected his mill would continue to bring prosperity to the region.
“Graeme was confident the mill would remain for many years to come, thanks to the personal commitment that the Victorian Agriculture Minister had written to him on,” Mr Johnston said.
In a report in Daily Timber News on 12 November the effects of that commitment on the mill were detailed: Corryong sawmill operator and pallet manufacturer Graham Walker received a letter in October (2019) from Victoria’s Minister for Regional Development, Agriculture and Resources Jaclyn Symes, good enough to take to the bank.
The letter recommended he continue to work with VicForests to “fully utilise the available timber resources” to supply his mill.
The Walkers are looking to invest $3m into new plant and equipment for the mill, and had approached a bank on the basis of the letter the government had sent.
Other awards presented on the night were:
- VAFI Economy Award sponsored by Timber Training Creswick and presented to Australian Paper
- VAFI Community Awards sponsored by ForestWorks and presented to SFM Environmental Solutions
- VAFI Sustainability Award sponsored by Indufor and presented to Walker’s Sawmill Corryong.