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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Maffra Line - Bridge Number 1 over Loy Yang Creek

Today I started on a new line, the Maffra/Briagolong line that branched off the Gippsland line at Traralgon, then re-joined it again at Stratford Junction. The line split away east of Maffra and veered off to Briagolong, where it terminated, having done enough veering, thank you very much.

I should correct myself here, as the line from Traralgon to Maffra was initially meant to be the main line to the East, but there was much work by interests in Sale to construct the main line via a more direct route, and Traralgon - Maffra - Stratford became a secondary route in the end.

The old ROW has been converted in recent times to the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail, and this has meant that some of the bridges have been partially repaired to carry the trail over creeks and rivers, but fortunately the bridges have not had massive work done to them to the extent it would ruin their appearance.

In the case of the first 4 bridges, the repair work has been limited to placing a new deck on top of the existing deck, and fitting a railing and picket fence on either side for safety. The deck surface has been coated in bitumen with gravel added for traction. Because little else has been done, the weight carrying capacity has really not been improved, and therefore this section has a ban on horses being ridden along it, whereas they are permitted on other sections.

In the weeks to follow, I will gradually work my way along the old line and photograph the remains of any bridges I can identify. I would like to thank Darren Hodges for his contribution of photos taken of some of these places before the rail trail was created.

The line parted company from the Gippsland line about 1.6 Km east of Traralgon Station, heading a little east of North along the Eastern verge of the Traralgon - Maffra Road. The first bridge on the line is in this early section, 4.87 Km from Traralgon Station. It is 30 Metres in length with 4 openings.

Strictly speaking, this first bridge is not across Loy Yang Creek, but a small tributary of that creek, but it is un-named and so I shall call it Loy Yang Creek for want of a more accurate name.

This first shot looks back along the deck towards South, or Traralgon. Note the picket fence is significantly narrower than the real bridge deck.

Side view of the bridge, again looking South. This shot clearly shows the amount by which the safety fence is set in from the deck edge.
I regret that on this trip I did not have my powerful flash with me. It is very handy for filling in the shadows on bright days such as this. Unfortunately the areas in the sun are well overexposed. View to the South of one of the central bridge piers.
View underneath the deck. This bridge is almost identical in design to the Powlett River Bridge, with vertical piles, cap plates, steel I-beam crosshead and 4 overlapped steel I-Beam girders. You can also see the cross bracing a little further into the bridge.
View from the West side looking South. Again the exposure has sacrificed the vegetation in order to expose the bridge elements.
The Northern end abutment. The piles of ballast have been created by the rail trail construction crew simply pushing it through the (previously) rotten deck timbers to land below the bridge.

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