Branch 95 specialises in top Australian hardwoods from a very special location.
Dale and Meyers Operations has spent the past 30 years cementing their reputation as top suppliers of Australian hardwoods. Now the Queensland-based company has introduced an exciting new division, Branch 95, specialising in selectively harvested timbers from Far North Queensland.
Curly Tatnell, Dale and Meyers’ director, is a renowned figure in the industry and known for his innovative thinking. In 2014, he was introduced to a source of rare species stemming from the forests surrounding Cooktown, on the Cape York Peninsula. “The qualities of these trees exceeded those of imported hardwoods,” Tatnell says.
He quickly began the process of securing a reliable and sustainable supply.
The core Branch 95 range includes Acacia Cedar, Black Bean, Black Wattle, Briar Oak, Northern Silky Oak, Queensland Maple, Queensland Silver Ash, Red Cedar, Red Silkwood, Red Tulip Oak, Silver Quondong and Darwin Stringy Bark.
Initially, the logs were transported over 2000km south for milling but now, through an invitation from the Cape York Partnership, they are processed in Cooktown by a mill created to provide employment to the local Indigenous community.
Millennia of history
The Indigenous involvement began much earlier. The story of these trees starts thousands of years ago, with the forests being carefully managed by the land’s traditional owners. Today, their approach to sustaining these forests is still considered cutting-edge with teams from across Australia travelling annually to the region to gain a better understanding of how to maintain our forests in a more natural way.
Tatnell describes this carefully balanced method of forestry as a key point for Branch 95: “Our selective harvesting methods ensure trees reaching the end of their life are removed before they lose their capacity to contribute to the ecosystem – allowing new growth to emerge from under the canopy.”
The Branch 95 range of timbers comprises 12 core species that are ideal for use in exterior, interior and furniture applications with an additional select species range of over 20 variants, available on request (subject to availability). The range is suitable for a wide variety of uses, from specialist timber crafts to flooring and decking.
“Incredibly, our timbers haven’t been commercially available for over 30 years,” says Tatnell. “Through our respect for the land and its traditional owners, we have been given the privilege of accessing these forests, after three years of working closely with the community to bring the product to market.”
By working with regional organisations including the Cape York Partnership, Branch 95 has ensured a sustainable, ethical and continued supply.
“We have also evaluated and authenticated the timbers’ quality through our own and independent analysis,” says Tatnell. “A report by Crafts Media Australia found that our core range of timbers demonstrated no significant limitations for use by craftspeople. It found that Briar Oak was the most appealing for solid timber furniture manufacture due to its colour, grain and excellent working characteristics – in contrast, the report found that Red Tulip Oak was ideal as a premium flooring timber due to a more subdued colour and being harder to work with.”
Leading the market
Supporting a sustainable approach, Branch 95 timbers also meet the Australian Forestry Standard and international PEFC standards, as well as holding Chain of Custody and Responsible Wood certification.
Because there are no weak custody links, it means that products such as Darwin Stringy Bark are safe options for people concerned about the illegal hardwood harvesting risks of imported hardwoods.
Tatnell says, “This unique Far North Queensland species is a great material for decking with its ‘clean’ appearance, no leaching, long-length spec and durability even in coastal applications. It’s recently been used to replace the whole iconic Cairns Esplanade Boardwalk.”
The rigorous certification ensures the product meets the expectations of the supplier and the market. It’s an investment Dale and Meyers has made to guarantee their reputation in the industry remains strong. It’s also an investment recognised by Britton Timbers, which distributes the core Branch 95 range nationally.
With Branch 95 establishing solid roots in Australia, the appeal of the exotic native species is also attracting attention in the US and Japan with planned expansion into these markets taking shape. Northern Silky Oak, or Australian Lacewood as it is known in the US, is popular with furniture makers and interior designers globally, though has not been available in reliable quantities for many years. Other species are expected to find similar favour.
Having exclusive access to such an exotic range of timbers, Branch 95 treads carefully in all aspects of their business to provide specialty timbers, employment and education across its whole operation. The company upholds Tatnell’s belief that sustainability is not just about caring for the forest, but also the people and the land – handed down through generations and for generations to come.
For more information on Branch 95 and national sales enquiries, visit
www.branch95.com.au or call 1300 353 757.