ESTIS and AusTIS: A Viable Interest in a Stable Industry

Gathering celebrated conference held 41 years ago

Mon 10 Jul 23


Recognising five decades of service to the Queensland forestry and timber industries, a close group of friends and associates gathered in Brisbane on July 6 to celebrate the staging 41 years ago on the Sunshine Coast of the Australian Timber Industry Stabilisation Conference.

The reunion at the Tattersalls Club included committee members, speakers and delegates from Sunshine AusTIS 82 held at Caloundra from June 20 to 25.

The conference was opened by Queensland Treasurer Dr Llew Edwards, who became chair and CEO of the 1988 World Expo in Brisbane.

Joint chairmen of AusTIS 82 were Jim Smart, Conservator of Forests, and Errol Wildman, chair of Queensland Timber Board.

Joint chairmen of the organising committee were Peter (‘PJ’) Hawkins, Deputy Conservator of Forests, and David Armstrong, manager of Queensland Timber Board.

Enjoying the reunion last week were original committee members Dr Gary Bacon, Jim Bowden and Bill Philip.

During AusTIS 82, Errol Wildman presented a wooden bowl to J.R. Lambert Hyne and his three sons, Warren, Richard and Chris, to mark Hyne and Son’s 100th year of operation at Maryborough.

The bowl, turned from forest species grown and processed by Hyne, included mainly slash pine (Pinus elliottii), hoop pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) and satinay, or Fraser Island turpentine (Syncarpia hillii).

AusTIS conferences represented all those involved in the forest and timber industry with an agenda focused on marketing timber products, utilisation and economics, tariff protection, forest products research, technical efficiencies, education within the industry and manpower and machinery requirements.

While celebrating AusTIS 82, held 41 years ago, it was noted that the 21st conference was held in 1964 at the University of Papua New Guinea, with working sessions and field visits from March 21 to 24.

The Australian Timber Industry Stabilisation Conference (AusTIS) was formed in 1943 as the Eastern States Timber Industry Stabilisation Conference (ESTIS).

Footage from the 1951 field excursion to Victoria’s Big River – Central Highlands, Koala Creek Forest Camp, Cold Weather Range Road, W.M. Cook & Co sawmill at Thornton, and Eildon Weir. Footage courtesy of @forestheritagevideos8266

It changed its name to AusTIS in 1959 when membership expanded to unite the timber industry with state and commonwealth government forest services and organisations.

ESTIS was a joint body formed in the belief that both foresters and sawmillers had a viable interest in a stable industry.

Revered forester E.H.F. Swain was the driving force behind ESTIS, the first meeting held in Sydney in 1943 and attended by representatives of the Associated Country Sawmillers of NSW, the Queensland Timber Industry Stabilisation Board and NSW forest services. Tasmania joined the next year.

Revered forester E.H.F. Swain was the driving force behind ESTIS, and then AusTIS.

Swain served as chair of the Forestry Board in Queensland from 1920 to 1931 and chief commissioner of the NSW Forestry Commission from 1935-1948.

He voiced the most extreme perspective of any forester throughout the British Empire. He used his position as a chief commissioner in NSW during and after World War 2 to advocate an entirely new vision of society and its economy. Instead of supporting the advance of the wheat belt across the world, he sought to create a society more heavily based on forestry. 

AusTIS conferences continued until 1988 after which their role and manner of policies was overtaken by other lobbying and coordinating bodies.


  • Jim Bowden

    Jim Bowden, senior editor and co-publisher of Wood Central. Jim brings 50-plus years’ experience in agriculture and timber journalism. Since he founded Australian Timberman in 1977, he has been devoted to the forest industry – with a passion.


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