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Not All Ironbarks Are Made Equal – Tips For Choosing Your Firewood


“It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,

He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.

He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop,

Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber’s shop.

`’Ere! shave my beard and whiskers off, I’ll be a man of mark,

I’ll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.”

A truly iconic poem – The Man from Ironbark, from the one and only Banjo Patterson. In fact, Ironbark was once the name for a town in New South Wales, not surprisingly populated by plenty of the trees of the same name. It’s been over 100 years since the publishing of the poem, and the town name has since changed, but it hasn’t stopped our love affair with this great Australian wood.

Ironbark is the generic name for a specific collection of Eucalypt trees, native to Australia. The name of the wood comes from the bark itself of the tree – generally a grey or black colour that’s hard, rough, and furrowed. The bark is unique to this type of tree.

There is but one type of ironbark native to the NT and WA (Eucalyptus jensenii), the other species of ironbarks are native only to the east coast of Australia. There are plenty of varieties of ironbarks up and down the east coast, mainly throughout QLD and NSW. These include the Eucalyptus melanophloia, or the silver-leaved ironbark, or the Eucalyptus sideroxylon, another QLD and NSW species with black bark.

Why is ironbark popular for firewood?

A good firewood has a moisture content of around 12% – ideal for burning. The available heat of the wood is the potential for the wood to give off heat and is calculated by taking the density of the wood (volume in kgs / cubic metres) and dividing it by 11.2. The closer this available heat number is to 100, the more heat potential it has. This is important.

Let’s take, for instance the grey ironbark. When wood has been dried to a moisture content of 12%, its density is 1105, which means its available heat is 97. This makes it a near perfect wood for putting on the fire. The Narrow-leaved red ironbark is similar in its stats, as is the red ironbark.

Ironbarks are far better for firewood than other varieties of eucalypts, although box trees are similarly effective for using for firewood.

Are ironbarks endangered?

Ironbarks themselves are not endangered. There are plenty of ironbark plantations developed specifically for firewood and other commercial purposes. However, there are specific regions and ecologies of ironbarks that are endangered that we must remain careful to protect, such as the Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest.

Keeping these regions protected from logging and other industrial purposes is paramount to ensuring the ongoing abundance of species and ecologies that is unique to various regions in Australia.

No matter what firewood you choose to go with, remember to take a look at the moisture content, as well as the density and associated available heat. This way you can be sure that you are purchasing the most efficient firewood for burning on your indoor fireplace or outdoor fire. Firewood should be well split, too. It’s easier to purchase already split than to do it yourself, unless you fancy yourself as a real lumberjack!

You can get ironbark firewood delivery in Sydney and surrounds so you don’t even have to lift a finger – all you have to do is get your fire started and keep it burning to keep you warm all night (or day) long!

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