The Trewhella jack was invented by William Trewhella of Trentham, Victoria, in 1888. It was indispensable for moving heavy timber, sawmilling and removing tree stumps. This jack was used for many years in the sawmill in Strathewen, located on the Sparkes family farm. The timber milled on site was used to build or maintain well-known buildings around Strathewen: the community hall, Strathewen Primary School, the guest house Singing Water, and the Arthurs Creek CFA station. Of all these buildings, only the Arthurs Creek station survived the bushfires of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009.

The jack was kept in the shed of the old farmhouse on the same property, one of many objects no longer in use but still too good to throw out. The homestead and its outbuildings all burned on Black Saturday.

Ian McKimmie, a descendant of the original settlers, retrieved the jack from the ruins and included it in the objects he hung from a burned tree stump on the family property. In doing so he was creating a private memorial to the bushfires of Black Saturday, but also to the generations of his family who had lived and farmed in the area for over 150 years.

Physical Description

Large manual jack with long lever handle and a post with ratchets for lifting stumps or timber. The jack is burned and rusted.


After the bushfires of Black Saturday many people created informal memorials out of burned objects. They mark the destruction of homes and the loss of lives, but they also express resilience and a need to create something meaningful out of the devastation. Where other people created mosaics or sculptures, Ian McKimmie assembled burned objects that evoked the farming past of his family in Strathewen, paying tribute to generations who had harvested the trees, farmed the land and fought earlier fires.

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