I love my woodheap. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in chilly Tasmania and now live in the Blue Mountains village of Blackheath (aka BLEAKHEATH). Oh that promise of cheerfulness and warmth.

It is also a perfect sun trap on our property in autumn and winter.

Despite turning 70 this year I am still chief wood splitter and fire lighter in our household. It is a position I am loath to relinquish, although as a concession I no longer use an axe. An electric saw and a wood splitter are my tools of trade. To be honest, I find the whole process therapeutic.

MY SAWING TECHNIQUE LACKS FINESSE, BUT NEVER MIND.

I still wear clip earring, and have lost a few with my almighty splitting blows. To the amusement of friends I now park them in a convenient stump. 😍

Ideally the woodheap should be covered. I love this idea from Berrima in the NSW Southern Highlands. Recycling at its best.

An old tank shelters a woodheap.
EXTENDED LIFE FOR AN OLD TANK

MEMORIES

The woodheap was the setting for my first experience of a truly gentlemanly act. I was about 13 and busy splitting sticks when a neighbour’s son a couple of years older arrived to spend time with my brother. I was quite touched when he said, ‘Hey, let me do that for you.’ A small gesture, but it made a huge impression on me. Thank you Dennis.

Who knows how many cricket bats my siblings and I fashioned from old fence palings? A few well directed chops to form a handle and we were ready!

On a more disturbing note, that woodheap was where chickens and ducks were dispatched by my father.

COMPANY AT THE WOODHEAP

There is another joy to a woodheap….birds, especially blue wrens and inquisitive yellow robins. They hop about hoping bugs will appear from the split wood.

I’M SURE TO FIND SOMETHING HERE
Eastern yellow robin at the woodheap
OH GOOD, PAULINE IS SPLITTING WOOD
THE WOOD SPLITTER MAKES A PERFECT PERCH
KOOKAS ON THE WOODHEAP BY MARGARET SENIOR (1917-1995)

The reward! Sheer bliss on a chilly night.

Result of my work on the woodheap..

We only burn dry, well seasoned wood (mostly gum) to reduce smoke pollution, but I know this form of heating has its critics.

HERE IS A WONDERFUL INTERVIEW WITH LEAH PURCELL ON THE WOODPILE IN HENRY LAWSON’S THE DROVER’S WIFE.

For information and advice on wood burning fires and wood smoke CLICK HERE.

4 Comments
  1. Great pics. Currently visiting youngest son who has very neat woodpiles too.

    • Pauline

      I suspect his wood stacks are a bit neater than mine! 😍

  2. Growing up on the farm in the 1950s, we had a wood-burning stove. So the woodheap was an essential part of our lives. We started the fire each morning with ‘chips’, short thin slivers, then kept it going through the day with larger pieces. There was a ‘wood box’ in a corner of the kitchen that my brother was supposed to keep full, but it usually ended up with Mum cutting what was needed herself.

    • Pauline

      Thanks for taking the trouble to leave a comment Barbara. It was so similar for our family.

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