Tuesday, June 06, 2006
This column appeared on Friday in the Redland Times, which serves a lively community on Moreton Bay at the gateway to Australia's new economic star, south-east Queensland.
LET’S have another chat around the fireside with the people who keep the Redlands warm.
Steve Radtke, of Steve’s Firewood, says not only householders but also some notable business names are warming up with wood in the countdown to winter.
Steve counts the Lighthouse Restaurant at Cleveland among his blue-chip clients.
He is pleased to see the charm of an open fire in such an upmarket eatery.
In another serving of the fire-food equation, Steve admits developing a liking for pizzas from wood ovens after he began supplying the Tomato Brothers Gourmet Pizza Restaurant at Ormiston this year.
"I don’t think it’s entirely the wood but the pizzas come up beautifully," Steve says.
"You can buy one from a normal oven but it doesn’t have the same flavour."
Steve worships wood after growing up in the Gympie district and later doing a lot of work with a portable mill on properties around Bundaberg.
He is in partnership with Mal Kruger in Steve’s Firewood.
The pair first worked together in the early 1990s for Steve’s uncle, Max Radtke, in a firewood business that has had a long heritage in keeping Redlanders warm and cosy.
The new partnership formed about three years ago.
Steve, of Cornubia, went fishing on the Logan River and hooked up with his old mate.
"Mal lives on the Logan and after we saw each other we got talking and ended up going into business together," Steve says.
Last week this column touted the qualities of ironbark as the ideal burning timber but Steve says the spotted and blue gums must also rate among the best burners.
Steve’s Firewood gets most of its supplies from properties in the Jimboomba and Beaudesert districts.
However, some supplies come from south-east Queensland developers who drop truckloads of trees at the partners’ depot near Jacobs Well.
Steve and Mal do all the splitting at the depot, where they stack the timber and age it when necessary.
Most of the supply is fireplace-ready, the legacy of ringbarking by property owners decades ago.
The partners certainly can save on gym fees, thanks to their work.
"There’s a lot of double and triple handling and worse, from the cutting and loading on the properties to the unloading, splitting, stacking and then the loading and unloading of deliveries," Steve says.
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