SPECIALITY timber logs recovered from the bottom of a lake floor on Tasmania's West Coast have been cut, dried and recreated into objects that will be enjoyed for a lifetime.
The Hydrowood project, run by SFM Environmental Solutions, will see submerged Huon pine, sassafras, myrtle, King Billy pine, eucalyptus and blackwood timbers brought up from Pieman Lake to be eventually sold in a niche market.
They are described as "the lost trees of Hydrowood", which were flooded in the creation of Hydro Tasmania's Reece Dam in 1978.
One of the first items to be created from submerged timber is a ceremonial "black rod", to be used in University of Tasmania graduation ceremonies in years to come.
It was made from raw materials taken from the first 17 logs recovered, which have been tested by the University of Tasmania's Centre for Sustainable Architecture with Wood.
Some of this raw material was then passed on to UTAS furniture design lecturer Simon Ancher and his student, Andy Batson-Graham, to see how the wood worked.
Mr Ancher designed and created the black rod from black sassafras while Mr Batson-Graham has made the "Hydrowood bench" from myrtle, on display at Design Tasmania.
CSAW director Associate Professor Gregory Nolan said the centre had helped to assess the quality of the recovered logs.
"We arranged for the material to be milled, supervised its milling, and supervised during testing to ensure it was fit for purpose," he said.
"The majority of the logs were myrtle and sassafras, with one small eucalypt log, and they were sawn, peeled and sliced. The verdict is that the material has turned out to be quite workable.
"The things we don't know, and the things we have to look at going forward, is that the material already recovered is not fully representative of what is available under the lakes, so there will be additional work to see what is available under the water and all the way down, and whether it is actually all going to be the same."
From a design perspective, Mr Ancher said he loved that the wood was being rediscovered.
"For me it is the provenance of this lost material. When the areas were dammed it was a very sad time. Now they have discovered and developed techniques for harvesting and extracting the material in a highly advanced, selective logging manner.
"This all adds to the story, which is really quite interesting, particularly as a designer and maker . . . you really think about what it is that you are going to make and whether it is worthy of this material."
Mr Ancher said some of the extracted wood had seemed to experience a colour change while under the water.
He described some of the sassafras boards he selected as being "quite distinctive - greeny, grey, with purple".
He said the myrtle colour had changed from a "salmon pink to more like cedar".
Overall, Mr Ancher said the timber was beautiful to work with.
"They tell me it was pretty cold underwater and I don't know if that has had anything to do with the chemical or structural changes in the timber but I have noticed that it seems a little bit more relaxed," he said.
"There seems to be less tension, it doesn't splinter or fracture, and it sands up beautifully and efficiently. It seems to enjoy being worked and it has been a delight to work with."
Mr Ancher said he had a "romantic" idea to one day make a boat from the speciality material.
"This extracting of the log from the water and then at some point returning it back to its origin in the form of a boat, maybe even a paddle board, would be a nice cycle," he said.
"It's not often you get a second chance with resources and if we don't chase the money too hard this resource could last and be used for a very long time."
● The Hydrowood project received $5 million in federal funding. Hydro Tasmania and the state government funded a feasibility study in support of the project.
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