Visit Map

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

I had a lovely email from a fellow bridge enthusiast and photographer today, who noted that the last entry was in September of 2018, and asking if I had given up on adding to the blog. 

The answer is no, I hope to be out and about again very soon. This last year has seen some challenges, the surgery on my back has worked, however I am finding it hard to get out. At the same time, we moved from our property in Garfield in West Gippsland, to a lovely new place at Jindivick, just north of Warragul. The move to the new property has meant I have had to spend some time adapting the place to our needs, but that is mostly done now.

The upside is that I am now even closer to the site of the most magnificent chain of wooden bridges between Nayook and Noojee. They are almost in my backyard. I spent many weeks with these bridges back in 1962, and the memories of them are still quite alive for me. Sadly, apart from the well known preserved bridge, there is almost nothing remaining of the best of those bridges.

Thank you for looking in, and see you out in the bush....

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Bridge #1 over Stringybark Ck. on the Lilydale to Healesville Line

First bridge of any interest after Lilydale. It consists of eleven 10 feet openings and one 15 foot opening. It is badly infested with reeds and blackberries and not very easy to access or photograph. Sadly, rather unattractive. 

Heading from Lilydale to Healesville, via Yarra Glen, this is the first bridge of any interest on the line but situated beside a very busy road where it is not advised to stop for a photo, as there is no place to stop or park off the highway.

Bridge #2 on the Lilydale to Healesville Line

My numbering, nothing to do with the railway. This bridge is probably the most interesting one left on this railway line, and the most easily accessed and visible. 

It consists of ten 10 foot openings plus a single central 15 foot opening. I am guessing it's purpose was simply to let water through under the rail line.

It is situated alongside the Melba Highway, 8.92 Kilometres from Lilydale Station. 

It is in pretty poor condition, consistent with being abandoned for many years. 

Bridge #3 on Lilydale to Healesville Line

It is not any sort of official numbering, it simply means the third interesting bridge on the line from Lilydale. It is located just at the point where the line spears off across the Yarra River flood plain towards Yarra Glen, departing from the Melba Highway. 

About the Melba Highway. The day I was there I was quite concerned about being wiped out by the incessant traffic, particularly tip trucks, that buzz along that road. It is not a good place to stop for photographs.

This is the last remaining wooden section of what was once a very long and impressive set of bridge sections that crossed the Yarra River flood plain. The trestle sections have been replaced over the years by earthern embankment, and in the accompanying video, you can see where the earth was excavated from long trenches beside the line, now filled with water.

Much of the wooden sections, including the river crossing, were wiped out by bushfires. 

The remaining bridge consists of five 10 foot openings.

Bridge over Simpsons Lane - Lilydale to Healesville Line

I should amend that title, it is not a bridge, but a concrete culvert. It would seem that if you run a 'Heritage Railway' you do not have any obligation to preserve the heritage part of it. 

There was once a quite respectable wooden trestle bridge across Simpsons Lane, but it has now been replaced by a bog ugly concrete culvert and fill on either side. When David Foulkes and I inspected the wooden bridge, just after the disastrous fires, the only damage to the bridge was a single burnt out pile. I would have thought that would have been a reasonably easy repair rto make. The bridge was lucky to have survived, because the fire burnt out all the wooden sleepers on the Healesville side of the bridge. Even at that time, Simpsons Lane bypassed the bridge, now the culvert seems to simply be there as a drainage measure. 

Anyhow, this is how it looked then.

This is the ugly scene these days. Very disappointing. 

New construction bridges on Lilydale to Healesville Line

Just to tie up loose ends, here is a photo of one bridge, close to Yarra Glen, that is typical of the approximately 11 bridges that were originally of wooden construction, but have been replaced by a steel and concrete design. The original bridges were either destroyed or damaged by fire, and were replaced in a pre-emptive strike to save them causing problems in the event of future fires. 

Bridge over Lilydale to Healesville Line at Donovans Road

This is a road-over-rail bridge that once carried Donovans Road over the Lilydale to Healesville railway line, approximately 1.8 Kilometres short of the line's destination at Healesville. It is not in use any longer, having been rendered obsolete by a small road diversion to the west of the bridge to take Donovan's Road across the tracks at grade level. 

Standing looking at the current arrangement, one is tempted to wonder why the crossing at grade was not implemented originally, as it only involves a short deviation to the road along what probably would have been railway land anyway.

The bridge is in quite surprisingly good condition, although I would not like to stroll across the deck (I have a strict rule about not strolling across bridge decks in order to prolong life). I would suspect that it has to be very carefully maintained so bits of it do not fall onto the permanent way. 

The bridge is at the top of a rise in the track level, with the track gently sloping down either side of the bridge.

The northern end of the deck.

The western approach to the bridge, looking towards Healesville, up the small grade.

South end from track level.

North end from Track level.

Underside of deck.

Eastern approach to the bridge, looking towards the new grade crossing, again down grade.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Bridge over Diamond Creek at Eltham

In something of a break with tradition, I decided to cover this bridge even though it is on a fully operational line, and not abandoned. My reasoning is that the bridge is something of a dinosaur, being almost entirely wood in its construction and being used by high-frequency suburban trains. 

I figure it is only a matter of time before someone shrieks out in horror that 'the public is in great danger as long as Metro allows this ancient and unsafe bridge to be used'.

Of course those among us know that a properly maintained, and well constucted wooden bridge is perfectly adequate for the relatively light loads of suburban electric stock, but that probably won't stop a full-blown outbreak of ignorant hysteria. 

The bridge is entirely wooden for its full length of 195 Metres, except for two steel sections supporting the spans across Diamond Creek itself. There are 34 x 15 foot spans, plus 4 x 30 foot spans in the bridge. The remaining spans have wooden beams with transverse decking, and classic gravel beams with tie rods, wooden sleepers and ballasted rail. In several places, the piers have steel I beam crossheads, replacing the original wooden ones. 

The refuges are now all-steel construction with scaffold pipe style hand-rails along the full length of both sides.

I was able to get some aerial footage of the bridge, which was a little difficult due to the high number of potential drone snags. There are many trees close to the line, plus many cables and wires, such that is it not easy to get lower angle shots, therefore most of the footage is shot from an altitude that does not fully reveal the structure of the bridge. You may notice, in viewing the footage, that the aircraft comes perilously close to tree branches at times.

Shot from the North side of the bridge, nearest the sports oval. Showing the piers including the opening for the road into the sports ground. One span is devoted to each side of the road.

Looking back from the same spot as the previous photo, towards Diamond Creek.

Also in the same area, but underneath the bridge.

And a shot exposed to show the detail on the underneath of the bridge, showing the transverse decking. A slightly disturbing sight is one of the lock-nuts holding the railing bracket to the crosshead, in upper left, has unwound itself back to the start of the thread. Hello maintenance!!

Again the same area, now on the South side of the bridge.

View across Diamond Creek, unfortunately obscured by some errant scrub.

Again looking across the creek, underneath the bridge.

Reverse shot, from the walking track, back towards Eltham Station.

Closer to the station again, showing example of steel crossheads, just under the refuge.

Bridge crossing the access road to the sports ground. There is a sign on the bridge asking people to report any impact with the bridge to Metro.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Worth a Second Visit.....

There have been a number of locations I have visited in the past that I did not feel quite happy with. In particular, I thought they could do with an aerial view of the site, so I decided to go back to them and visit them again with the drone.

The first of these I chose was the Jumbunna Embankment on the Korumburra - Outrim Branch. I think the aerial view shows the scale of this construction better than the still shots could achieve.

Others sites will follow as I get time to re-visit them. Follow the link to the entry, then see the video clip at the bottom of the entry.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Bridge over Broken Creek, Number 1 - Nurmurkah to Picola Line

Sadly, on the way home from the last expedition to Barwon Downs, Timboon and Warrnambool, the old Falcon wagon began to give up its ghost. It had served me well, but was now labelled with that dreadful description "uneconomical to repair". It took me some time to save up the readies to replace it, and the (low) target was reached in late March, with almost the exact same car, but 8 years younger and white instead of silver.

A fortunate turn of events enabled me to get a new camera at the same time, a lovely Sony A7R Mark II, a full frame format mirrorless type with 42 Gigglepixies and a nice Zeiss zoom lens. 

So now armed with the new camera and a hopefully reliable car, I set off in early April to visit a long-time friend up at Tocumwal, with the aim of snaring him into helping me cover the bridges on the now-closed Numurkah to Picola line. 

The line was opened in two stages, from Numurkah to Nathalia in 1888, and Nathalia to Picola in 1896. The line is 20.5 miles long, and was eventually closed in December of 1986, so was only in operation for 90 years.

The first three identified bridges simply amounted to culverts over irrigation channels, so I elected not to visit them, but then there were 5 more substantial bridges, four of which continuously crossed Broken Creek. 

The first bridge over Broken Creek is at the 11.6 mile point, and I was rather surprised to find a well constructed bridge of steel spans supported by concrete piers and abutments, that would later turn out to be the same for all 5 bridges. This bridge is 75 Metres long.

Armed with the array of equipment, Ray and I set out to explore the first bridge and he was given the task of measuring the length with the wheeled measuring device. Roughly half way across the bridge, Ray decided to enter into an enterprise bargaining meeting over wages and conditions. I told him that there were no wages, and the only condition was that if he properly measured the bridges, he would get a lift home. A bargain was struck when I agreed that a pub and lunch would feature in the working day. It is hard to get good workers these days. 

This view shows the bridge on the west side looking back towards Numurkah.

The shed in the foreground houses a pump that feeds a large boom sprinkler in a neighboring paddock. Broken Creek flows into the Murray in the Barma Forest, and is quite high. In fact I wonder at why Broken Creek is called a creek, it appeared to have all the attributes of a river. It is wide, full and much larger than other creeks I have known, and in this area seems to provide an important source of irrigation water. 

The bridge is used by vehicular traffic, this road being on the old ROW and heading west towards the next bridge, less than half a mile away.

View looking upstream from the bridge.

And the corresponding view downstream.

Looking across the bridge, again towards the west.

Bridge over Broken Creek, Number 2 - Nurmurkah to Picola Line

The second bridge is at the 12 mile point, less than half a mile from the first bridge, as Broken Creek winds its way around in a balloon loop. This bridge is of identical construction, and is shorter, at 66 Metres.

At the eastern end of the bridge there was a derelict building constructed using logs and mud. I would have loved to photograph it in greater detail, however there was a brand new fence and gates with very convincing padlocks keeping me out, so I could only get this one shot.

Bridge over Broken Creek, Number 3 - Nurmurkah to Picola Line

Bridge number 3 is in Nathalia. Again, it crosses Broken Creek, and now is used as a footbridge connecting Scott Street and Weir Street. It is at the 14.2 mile point and is 69 metres long. Being in a township, the bridge has been equipped with a steel mesh fence on both sides. 

What may appear to be lens abberation is in fact the fence leaning outwards, as a result of some silly people trying to drive vehicles across the bridge. Bollards were originally installed to stop this traffic but they disappeared, generally thought to have been thrown in the creek.

Bridge over un-named waterway - Nurmurkah to Picola Line

This is a simple single-span bridge, of similar construction to the otrhers on the line, over an un-named waterway, at the 15.3 mile point. It is 9 metres long. I have numbered this bridge 4.

Bridge over Broken Creek, Number 5 - Nurmurkah to Picola Line

The last bridge before Picola, number 5 is at the 16.5 mile point and is the longest at 84.5 metres. This bridge alone has a refuge half way across and for some reason appears to be higher than the others. I drove the car across this bridge rather tentatively, the narrowness of it is a bit of a concern, but I doubt the weight would have approached even the lightest of wagons that passed over it in the past. It was the quickest way back to the main highway.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Bridge over the Merri River, Hopkins Basin - Port Fairy Railway Line.

This bridge crosses the Merri River near Dennington, an outer western suburb of Warrnambool, on the former Port Fairy line. The bridge would have been constructed in approximately 1890 and the line closed finally in 1977. The rail was retained and still exists from Warrnambool to the Fonterra factory at Dennington, the remainder being lifted.

At the point where the line crosses the Merri River, a section known as the Hopkins Basin, the river is approximately 45 metres wide. The bridge itself is approx. 175 metres long, the number of openings being unknown as a 50 metre section of bridge has been removed over the river itself.

I have to say I was disappointed by this bridge, it looked large and impressive in all the glimpses I got of it, both in the flesh and via Google Earth, but on arriving there it was not all that special. Having been nobbled by the removal of a large section, and the remaining part was heavily fenced off, making any decent exploration hazardous, and the vegetation surrounding it guaranteed to harbour snakes, I was unimpressed.

A lovely man in the house where the line crosses Farnham Road North, has been mowing the ROW for ages, and so it is perfectly possible to drive a car down it to reach the bridge, although his wife did warn me about tiger snakes in the long vegetation. Georgia the Gunzel Spaniel was keen to explore, but I thought it unwise, and instead I sent her off to KFC to get us both lunch. She likes chickens....

So I must apologise for the shortage of still shots, however I hope the aerial footage gives a better idea of what the bridge now looks like. 

Wide shot of the bridge taken from the north west quadrant. Note the very secure and substantial fence, making trespass, and therefore exploration, very difficult.

A closer view, note the lush undergrowth, very long, wet, swampy and full of snakes. The Fonterra dairy factory can be seen in the background on the eastern side of the river.

And the video of the bridge. As always, it is best viewed full screen and in the highest resolution you can get to work. It has been uploaded in 4K.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Bridge over Curdies River north of Timboon - Timboon Railway Line

The Timboon Railway Line branched off the Warrnambool or Port Fairy Line a short distance west of Camperdown. It was roughly 36 kilometres in length, opening in 1892 and closing relatively recently in 1986. 

The Curdies River Bridge is just 4.6 Kilometres north of the line terminus at Timboon. It crosses both the Curdies River and Limeworks Road, the lime works still being in use and actively mined. There was a siding off the line to serve the lime works originally, but the output is shifted by road trucks these days, passing under the bridge quite frequently.

I love this bridge, it looks good, and sits beautifully in the landscape, something that is best appreciated from the air, hence my use of the drone to get a rather magic aerial perspective. And it is hard to take a bad photograph of the bridge, as it manages to look great from almost any angle.

The bridge is 185 metres long, with 30 openings, and is in very good condition considering its age. It now carries the Camperdown -Timboon Rail Trail across the valley, and has been sympathetically restored by adding a simple transverse timber deck and safety railings. The spans are a uniform 20 foot, with a rare and very unusual arrangement where 4 pile piers are interleaved with two pile piers with stay piles on the outside. This makes the bridge even more unique and attractive.

Shot from the northern end of the bridge, looking towards Timboon.

The complimentary view, from the south end looking north. 

Two views from the north-east quadrant.

View from the east side, showing Limeworks Road passing under the bridge.

View from the south bank of the river looking towards Timboon.

Three views of the river crossing. There is a small concreted ford at this location, part of which is seen in the last photo. The Curdies River is quite prone to flooding, given the massive rainfall in this part of the Otways, so clearing debris away from the bridge piles is a constant task.

And here is the video clip of the bridge, in glorious 4K if you have that capability.