CARABOODA resident Jack Susac (74) said he was a barefoot youngster when he started working on the wood-fired kilns in the 1950s.
Last Tuesday, August 14, he was still breaking up limestone rocks, chopping wood and stoking the fires.
“This burns all day, all night tonight and tomorrow most probably until 5 or 6pm,” he said.
“If it burns properly, we can produce 30 tonnes.”
Historically, the lime industry started in Wanneroo about 1910, flourishing in the ‘’20s and ‘’30s, then fading in the ‘’60s. It was revived in the 1970s, and more than 50 kilns are fall within the area, although few are still operated.
Although modern rotary and gas-fired kilns require less manual labour, Mr Susac still uses the traditional method.
“You keep on working, you keep going,” he said.
“In those days you had to do it that way, there was no modern machinery.”
Mr Susac said he bought the limestone from a quarry up the road and, after firing, sold the lime to hardware stores to onsell to plasterers.
“Before it was all shovelled into bags but today it’s all done different, it’s made into putty,” he said.
Nat Cardaci (71), who has been working for Mr Susac for more than a decade, took shifts to load the kilns last week.
Adrian Chambers identified the Susac family as one of several involved in the lime industry in his book The Pioneers: a Story of Wanneroo, with the Dunstan, Cooper, Korsunki, Anticich, Pappas and Menchetti families also mentioned.
“The local stone was much sought after because of its high content of calcium carbonate. In the Mullaloo and north Wanneroo areas, the stone was up to 98 per cent carbonate and two per cent silica,” he wrote.
“The temperature needed for burning the stone was around 1200 to 1300 degrees centigrade and a typical load was close to 70 tonnes, producing one tonne of lime for each tonne of stone.
“An average burn was between 18 and 36 hours and would need anything from six to 18 cords of timber.”
A 1999 historical trust newsletter said the number of lime kilns in the Wanneroo area peaked at 45 pot kilns and two shaft kilns during the inter-war period, with more than 200 people employed in quarrying, timber-getting, carting and operating the kilns.
“After World War II, the lime kilns reopened and during the 1950s and 1960s, the Wanneroo area supplied most of the State’s needs, exporting lime as far afield as Darwin,” the newsletter said.