Sawyers and shingle splitters . .
Sawyers Valley, one of the earliest settlements in Mundaring, traces its origins to the 1860s when pit sawyers and shingle splitters lived and worked in the area. Sawpits, where the planks were cut, can still be discerned in the bush. The top sawyer would keep the two-metre saw on a guideline, and the bottom sawyer, often working up to his knees in water and sawdust, provided the upward movement for the saw.
Image: Late 1960s Great Eastern Hwy in Sawyers Valley. MTT Bus is heading East. Image credit from microburbs.com.au
Many of the sawyers were former convicts or ticket of leave men (conditional release). A depot, which housed men sentenced to hard labour on the colony's roads, cemented the small settlement's association with convicts. Mounted police from the nearest station at The Lakes patrolled the area frequently.
Sawpits give way to steam
The construction of the Eastern Railway through the centre of the settlement in the 1880s led timber merchant Edmund Lacey to establish the Enterprise Steam Saw Mill. The mill employed dozens of sawyers. Some ex-convict pit-sawyers stayed on and are remembered today in street names, for example, Lot Leather, who established a store and hotel.
Firewood and fruit
The settlement, which began as a scattered encampment of canvas tents and timber huts, was declared an official townsite thirty-five years later on 28th October 1898. Sawyers Valley was named for its pioneers. After the steam mill closed, firewood became the focus, with the hewers and woodcutters often supplementing what they made with fruit from the orchards.