Timber - One of the earliest endeavours of settlers was clearing land for roads and farms and from this grew the timber industry, with blackwood, mountain ash, fiddleback and other timbers being felled then milled for palings, logs, furniture and housing. Much of the timber going to Melbourne. A record 9,600 palings were split from one tree. Several large saw mills operated throughout the area, with the last mill closing in the early 1980’s.
In 1926, legendary paling splitter Jim Pattinson went to a height of 163’ (almost 50m) using 54 boards placed vertically, not spirally. When almost at the top of the tree, he removed his shirt and hung it on a branch, stating that if anyone could retrieve it he would place four more boards in the tree. The shirt was retrieved and Pattinson had to set the extra four boards to the top of the tree.
Newspapers - ‘The Auctioneer’ was the first newspaper in Boolarra, hitting the streets on 6th September 1932. Issued every Tuesday it supplied market reports, news, sport and topics of the day until the depression and the outbreak of World War II saw the demise of the newspaper.
There were a few editions of the ‘Boolarra Citizens’ and Ratepayers’ newsletter issued, however it was not until March 1982 that a public meeting was held to form Boolarra’s current community newspaper, ‘The Boolarra Link’.
Cattle Saleyards - Boolarra has supported a busy cattle sale calendar since its earliest days, however, like all industries, there has been boom and bust times. In the 1930’s 500 - 600 head of cattle would pass through the yards but by the 1950’s this had dropped to the point where the yards were closed. When the yards were reconstructed in the early 1960’s there was one sale a month until the last sale conducted on 4th May 1982, with Jack Richards as Auctioneer.
Dairy Farming - Because of the dense forests in the region, there was very little farming carried out until cleared land became readily available. In 1894, Mr. Harry brought the first separator to Boolarra and dairying increased rapidly.
Butter was traditionally salted and packed on individual farms and then sent to surrounding areas for sale. In 1905, the Danish firm Heyman set up a butter factory in Boolarra and dairy farming further developed as the leading industry in the district, with the factory providing much needed employment for the youth of the area.
A Piggery was established to use the whey from the factory, however the butter factory was sold to the Mirboo Co-op in 1949 and the piggery was closed.
Coal - In 1888, the Mirboo, Boolarra and Moe Coal Syndicate Company secured 3,840 acres of coal-bearing land just west of Boolarra and at one time 300 men were employed at mines in the region. However, the opening of Wonthaggi, Korumburra and Yallorn mines caused work to cease in the Boolarra area.
Head Teacher of Boolarra State School, Mr. John Irvine wrote in 1889 “Boolarra has one of the best coal seams yet discovered in the Colony. The Boolarra Black Coal Mine will shortly employ 18 men and another brown coal mine will have 30 men”.