The Ultimate (Australian) Timber Price List

ARCPL

Now here is a timber price list to get the heart racing.

Australian Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) was once the premium appearance grade timber species in Australia. From the first days of European invasion to about the time of the First World War (140 years), this timber was chased from every pocket of rainforest up and down the east coast of Australia.

Many books have been written about this species and its history/exploitation. One fine example is:

John Vader (1987) Red Cedar: The Tree of Australia’s History. Reed Books, Sydney, NSW.

Much research and many attempts have been made to try and domesticate the species for growing in plantation. But the dreaded Cedar Tip Moth is a powerful and persistent enemy.

Australian Red Cedar is now commercially extinct, but limited quantities are sometimes available from salvaged trees.

It is a curious price list in that prices per cubic metre remain unchanged at between $8,000 and $10,000 per cubic metre for thicknesses up to 50mm.

Even for a rare and much sought-after timber these prices are not that extraordinary.

This flat pricing structure is typical of salvage timber where the price does not reflect the cost of growing the trees. Salvage timber is just a case of whatever comes along, big or small, long or short. There is no incentive/reward to the grower to replant.

But once you get into the large sizes, prices up to $17,100 per cubic metre definitely get the heart racing.

No wonder so much effort has been made trying to grow this tree commercially.

After the First World War the supplies of Australian Red cedar dropped dramatically and Tasmanian blackwood became Australia’s premier appearance grade timber species. It too is now on the verge of becoming commercially extinct due to overcutting of the public blackwood resource and decades of poor forest policy.

At these prices I’m surprised there is not more interest from investors and landowners in growing premium timber.

Isn’t this a business/investment opportunity going begging?

Will prices for Tasmanian blackwood soon resemble these prices for Australian Red Cedar?

For more information on blackwood and other timber price lists see:

https://blackwoodgrowers.com.au/category/price-lists/

10 responses to “The Ultimate (Australian) Timber Price List

  1. I currently have considerable amount of australian red cedar which is rough sawn into blocks approx 250mm x 300mm x 2400 long i bought this over 30 years ago at an auction at Saslbury NSW i am wanting to sell could someone help with getting an apprasial to what this would be worth please

    • Hi George,

      I seem to be attracting quite a few of these red cedar enquiries lately.

      How many of these blocks do you have (total volume), and where abouts are you/they?

      Clearly buying red cedar timber as an investment hasn’t turned out as people expected.

      Whilst red cedar was once a very valuable timber when it was still commercially available, once the logging stopped, the market moved on and left these stranded assets in peoples back sheds and garages.

      I fear the same will happen with Tasmanian blackwood.

      Cheers

      Gordon

  2. my next door neighbour, has a large quantity of well over 30-40 yr seasoned Red Cedar slabs and boards. ranging from 5.0m lengths x 550 wide and all sizes in between.. he has inherited this awesome large shed full of Cedar.. I have seen this collection and the mind boggles, especially being an ole woodworker/ cabinetmaker/ joiner myself. the question is, where do you reckon will be the best place to sell this collection… I see from your post above, it could be hard to get rid of…we will give Gumtree a go, and see what happens.. the timber is stored in Wingham, NSW.
    regards
    Gaz White
    Port Macquarie.

    • Hi Gaz,

      Red cedar is a great timber but when the logging stopped it became a stranded asset. The market moved on. There seem to be quite a few of these private cedar hoards around the country.

      I am hearing from people who are growing it successfully in small-scale plantations, but these are still years from harvest.

      Try Gumtree. Also try and contact custom furniture builders, billiard table makers (Sydney), piano makers (Tumut), perhaps Maton/Cole Clark. These specialised manufacturers may be interested. It’s not a sellers market so your neighbour may have to accept whatever price is on offer. It’s a small market, and with these small, one-off hoard sales the market cannot develop to improve prices.

      Good luck!

      Gordon

  3. Apart from the moth problem who can afford to wait 200years for a decent sized Ciliata bole. Must think ahead for the great grand children! – a long wait for financial return!

    • Hi Tony,
      I get more enquiries from people who are or who want to grow Australian Red Cedar than blackwood. It’s depressing I know!

      Many of these people are growing ciliata very successfully, and in a timeframe that is “potentially commercial”.

      I say potentially because I fear that the market has moved on. ARC ceased being available in commercial volumes after WW1. At that time blackwood became Australia’s premier appearance grade timber.

      Can these growers re-establish a viable market for ARC? That is the question!!!

      Will the marketplace wake up and support commercial private tree growers? So far I see no evidence to support this hypothesis!!

      Under the current trajectory the marketplace will run out of quality appearance grade timbers. So be it!!

      Gordon

  4. Have plenty of blackwood for sale 4mx9oo x75 largest size

  5. John Bodenstein

    Hi, yes, a sad state of affairs for the Red Cedar in Australia. I have a property in the Wattagans and am propagating and growing Red Cedars very successfully. Sourcing Seeds and seedlings was a problem and to some extent the cedar moth is a challenge, however I have large stocks of seedlings now and believe a National approach is needed to restock the forests with these beautiful trees. Although it’s the next generation that will benefit from these efforts, it’s a noble endeavour I believe. I’m looking to work with local farmers in the area interested in growing these trees on their properties.

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for your feedback.

      Over the years I have heard of quite a number of people who are growing Red Cedar successfully, at least on a small scale.

      Even as far away as south west Western Australia, where they don’t have the tip moth!

      No doubt it is a beautiful timber, but I’m not sure if there will be markets for it in the future.

      Perhaps if there was a National approach, as you say, that would improve the chances of markets developing.

      I’m not sure who would drive such a National approach. The forest industry is not interested and neither are Governments.

      As it is the sporadic small-scale plantings with no overall vision and plan will make it hard for growers to sell their product.

      I have the same concerns for blackwood, and just about every other premium solid timber.

      Let me know how you get on, or if I can help in any way.

      Cheers

      Gordon Bradbury

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