Mill chapter comes to end

AS 2013 drew to a close another chapter in Machin Sawmill history ended.

Mill worker Trevor Green hung up his wood planer for good as he retired after 25 years with Machins and 45 years within the saw milling industry. 

His decision to retire was not an easy one to make but he cites not getting any younger and less than perfect health as the catalyst for change.

His retirement just before Christmas was only a few months after that of colleague Col Nelson a veteran of 33 years at the mill. Both Trevor and Col now plan to do plenty of fishing and travelling, Trevor going so far as to plan time away touring Australia in his caravan with canine companion Rusty.

The past decades have seen much change at the mill with both workers remembering a time when more than 50 per cent of the mill work was for the Broken Hill Mine with weekly rail trucks taking mine pit props from the mill.

The land occuppied by the mill was much smaller and at least three other mills were also based in Wingham.

As the last remaining mill in town, Machins can thank fast thinking management who were able to diversify the product range when the Broken Hill mine closed suddenly and Machin's order was gone over night. Now the mill supplies a lot of flooring and decking to the construction industry as well as community parks and gardens.

As the mill approaches its own milestone - turning 100 later this year, manager and owner Ralph Blenkin reflects on the loss of two of his most reliable staff.

Both Col and Trevor were highly skilled and able to turn their hand to any job on the mill, experience gained from years within an industry changed by time and machinery.

With very few mills in close proximity, Ralph said it is hard to get such skilled workers anymore. New recruits coming in do so with little to no experience and require on the job training.

While Ralph is confident most blokes can be trained to do the work, he is concerned that not all of today's youngsters share the same work ethic of the older generations.

Ralph praises Col and Trevor for their bullet proof work ethic and reliability.

He always knew they would turn up, put in a hard days work and have the skill and experience to turn their hand to anything. They will be missed at the mill, and from what Trevor and Col said it would appear that they are going to miss the place just as much.

It took both of them at least two years to decide to retire and as Col has a few months of retirement already up his sleeve, he knows how hard it is to break the habit of a lifetime. 

"You miss the routine and you miss your mates," said Col who admits he thought he'd find retirement boring.

Luckily he has two children and two grandchildren to keep him and his wife busy.

As for Trevor, his four children and nine grandchildren may very well have to compete with the ultimate fishing spots around Australia.

It is just possible that the fish might see more of a retired Trevor than anyone else.

Retired mill workers Trevor Green (left) and Col Nelson

Retired mill workers Trevor Green (left) and Col Nelson