by Neometro

Below the Surface of Tasmania’s Lake Pieman

Ideas - by Open Journal

Like many, I am instantly drawn to the providence and story behind places, people and things so, when I first heard about the majesty of what lurks below the frigid waters of the eerily beautiful Lake Piemont in Tasmania’s west, I was captivated. 

Tasmania has an immensely beautiful and wildly rugged landscape. Its chequered history is full to the brim with tales of devastating hardship and though much of this offshore Australian state has been slowly tamed over the years, there are still many pockets that retain their absolute primeval mysticism. 

Tasmania’s Lake Pieman. Image by Adam Gibson.

Lake Pieman straddles both notions. It lay relatively undisturbed since the region was flooded some 30 years ago, until David Wise flew his Cessna high above and happened upon the secret that had remained dormant below its murky depths ever since. Further exploration by David revealed an underwater forest that, thanks to dark, cold and anaerobic environment, had remained preserved, maintaining a level of integrity in the submerged woodland that is now highly valuable, containing trees that are between 200 and 1000 years old.

And so Hydrowood was conceived. Magnificent machines were purpose-built to sustainably salvage small amounts of the timbers whose progeny has diminished through overuse elsewhere resulting in species that, over the past 30-40 years, have fallen into the category or unique.  These machines have been designed to retrieve the old-growth trees from their watery graves with as little disruption to the underlying ecosystem as possible.  In other words, the intention behind Hydrowoods extraction of these unique timbers is far removed from dredging and, instead is mindful of this precious resource and the environment that has preserved it.

Purpose built machinery sustainably retrieves the trees from Lake Pieman with a little disturbance to the underlying ecosystem as possible. Image by Adam Gibson

As with the development and use of any natural resource, Hydrowood has had to work within rigid environmental regulations and management and, due to the uniqueness of the enterprise, has contributed huge resources to ensure the processes in place are environmentally conscious and sustainably minded. 

With Davids business partner, Andrew Morgan, having an extensive background as an environmental consultant, Hydrowood has been pioneered in good stead. Developing logging processes that provide the Australian design and construction industry with valuable timbers previously thought lost or sugnificantly depleted, such as Western Beech, Sassafras, Myrtle, Blackwood and Celery Top Pine. 

Some highly depleted species of timber – Blackwood, Celery Top Pine, Western Beech & Sassafras – have been discovered beneath the waters of Lake Pieman. Image by Adam Gibson

Five years after its inception Hydrowood is fast becoming synonymous with good design and recognised as a highly sustainable local resource. John Wardle Architects Limestone House, with its Passivhaus and Living Building Challenge sustainability rating, is set to prominently feature Hydrowood hardwoods throughout and will no doubt herald the beauty and integrity of the material.

Render of John Wardle Architects Limestone House which features Hydrowood timbers throughout.

Interior render of John Wardle Architects Limestone House.

With furniture makers and woodworkers drawn to the exotic species of material, as well as Hydrowoods providence and story, the lure of the product has seen its demand grow quickly and with the environmental management plan in place to ensure the provision of these submerged wonders for many decades to come, Hydrowood timbers are becoming revered within product design, residential and commercial sectors. With the surface thoroughly scratched, there is seemingly no end to the application of the Hydrowood timber species that Lake Pieman has effectively restored to the design and construction industries.

Words by Tiffany Jade.

Photographs by Adam Gibson.

For further information please contact Hydrowood on (03)6333 4024


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