Visit Map

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Identification of Bridges

I have recently received a huge list of GPS locations from Des Jowett, well known retired Railwayman. Des has spent a lot of time poring over the Google maps to spot the bridges and pin down their location for me. 

This has set a big target for me to go out and photograph the bridges that have been identified, and I am extremely grateful to Des for taking the time to do this work.

Des has also passed on a number of photos from his collection, covering bridges I have visited, and I will be adding them to the original posts.

Well done Des, and Thank You again!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Wimmera River Bridge at Quantong - Horsham to Carpolac Line.

Alongside the Wimmera Highway where it crosses the Wimmera River at Quantong, this bridge is in fairly good condition. It is of approximately 138 Metres in length, all wooden construction over a large and fairly full river.

Robert Redman advises that the nearby bridges over the river flats were dismantled by the Victorian Goldfields Railway, with the blessing of Victrack, in order to provide timbers for the repair of a bridge on their line near Castlemaine.

Yet timbers on the bridge indicate that sections were replaced in 1984, not long before the line closed in late 1986. There was a proposal in the early 80's to relay the line with heavier rail as far as East Natimuk so bigger diesels could haul GJX type hopper wagons to service the large grain facility at East Natimuk, and this could explain the repairs.

An oldie but goodie from Des Jowett, showing J503 on an Up Goroke to Horsham goods on January 6th. 1962. It is shown crossing Natimuk Creek just west of the town of Natimuk.
Photo by Des Jowett
This photo shows D3 641 approaching the Wimmera River bridge on 11-11-1957 with the weekly Balmoral to Horsham goods. It was very rare to get a D3 on this train which normally was a J, K or N.
Photo by Des Jowett

Video Clip

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This time Ian captured a takeoff with the Phantom in slo-mo at 1/10 speed.

Glenelg River at Kanagulk, Hamilton to East Natimuk Line

The bridge is located on the property of the historic Fulham Homestead. We visited the homestead to ask permission to shoot the bridge and met Greg Walcott, the owner. Greg was very accommodating and gave us a brief tour of the restored cook house on the property. 

Most of the buildings on the property, including the homestead itself, are built from rock hewn from local outcrops, and Greg and his wife had restored the old cook house to original condition, and they now use it for entertaining. The roofs of many building were thatch, that was later covered by shingles and then roofing iron. The property dates back to 1848, so it predates the railways in Victoria by 6 years. 

Greg told us that some time ago a work team turned up at the property with the intention of demolishing the bridge, but he refused permission and obtained a heritage order on it. Fortunate indeed, as we would not have had anything to shoot. 

Originally there were two bridges at this crossing of the Glenelg River, but the southern bridge was burnt out. This leaves the existing bridge, which at a length of 189 Metres, is the second longest surviving wooden bridge in the state. The bridge is of all-wooden construction using 20 foot spans of timber beams.

The bridge is surrounded by River Red Gum, making it difficult to shoot with the drone, and even from the air, is still hidden to a large degree from view. It is in fair condition, like other bridges that are isolated on private property, this protects them to some degree.

All phots are taken from the northern end of the bridge, as it was not practical to cross the water to get to the southern end.

The 31st. of 32 piers supporting the bridge

Video Clip

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Just a little cameo in this by a BullAnt I picked up from the launch site. He crawls down the left side of the camera lens at about 1:35, he did this a few times in material that was cut out of the clip. I don't know if he made it home again, but one hopes.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Wannon River Bridge at Cavendish, Hamilton to East Natimuk Line

This bridge is relatively new in comparison to bridges in the Western District, having been built in 1917. Originally there were two branches, one from East Natimuk to Toolondo, and the other from Hamilton to Cavendish. The middle section was not completed until 1917.

This is a composite bridge, with 3 main spans of 12.8 Metres in steel plate girders and 7 sections of 20 foot wooden beams. The total length of the bridge is 75 Metres.

Sadly, the bridge is not in good condition, although some attempts appear to have been made to encase some of the piles in concrete caisons. It is considered a local attraction and visitors are encouraged to visit the bridge. One pier has recently rotted away to the point where the pier has collapsed into the water at the southern end. None of the wooden spans are left intact.

We met the friendly owners of the Bridge Cafe, adjacent to the bridge, Nick and Vicki, who supplied us with refreshments on a very warm early December day. If you pass through, call in and see them. 

The collapsed pier at the southern end of the bridge.

This photo comes from Des Jowett. He was working J503 on a Hamilton to Horsham goods. The photo is taken from the north east corner of the bridge. Des wrote:

"I always carried a camera at work on steam shifts and the one at Cavendish is the 8am Hamilton to Horsham goods. The loco is being worked "one man" until I was picked up after taking the photo then we continued on to Horsham"

Photo courtesy of Des Jowett

Video Clip

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Wannon River Bridge at Casterton

This bridge is significant in that it is the longest surviving timber bridge in Victoria, at 293 Metres. It was built during the construction of the Branxholme to Casterton line in 1884, and has survived largely intact due mainly to the fact that it does not threaten anybody and is isolated out in the middle of grazing lands. 

In contrast, the nearby, and longer, bridge that carried the railway over the Glenelg River flats and the river itself, was demolished due to the risk to town folk from bits falling off it. This bridge was longer, estimated to be between 390 and 400 Metres long.

Sections of the bridge are sagging, but the tall section of the bridge over the Wannon River has survived many floods, with evidence of debris trapped by the bridge piles. The bridge is entirely made of wood, consisting of 64 openings of 15 feet. The maximum height of the tall section over the river is 9.1 Metres, while the section across the flood plain is mostly under 3 metres.

We were very fortunate to be able to locate the farm owner who gave permission to access a gate on the ROW and drive right up to the western bridge abutment.

This photo is surprising in that it appears to show a crosshead that was replaced in October of 2004. 

The Mortal enemy of bridges is flood debris, here there is a collection trapped by the bridge piles. The Wannon River can get quite full during the winter and this debris is a real risk to the bridge.

Video Clip

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This is a short clip taken by my friend Ian with his iPhone 5 in slo-mo showing the Phantom landing.

Casterton Station

I wanted to check out Casterton Station to see if there was any sign of the large trestle off the end of the yard. There was plenty to see, as the area has not been redeveloped. The turntable, engine shed and such have been removed and that space is now occupied by a sort of park and rotunda.

The bridge is long gone though, which is probably understandable, as it would be a magnet to young kids and would be quite an unsafe item to have sitting in the middle of the town. There is some evidence, but just piers and remains of piles along the route to the Glenelg River. 'Tis a pity though, as it was a unique bridge.

However the goods shed it still there, plus some warehouses on the perimeter, and the magnificent brick station building is in good condition externally and is now fenced off, presumably to keep vandals out.

This is all that remains of the section of track that lead to the engine shed and turntable. The turntable would have been just to the right of the rotunda in the background, while the engine shed would have been just to the left of it. The fake buffer stop is a furphy.

In contrast, This photo shows J 532 sitting outside the engine shed on March 29, 1959. just to the left of the above photo.

Photo by Des Jowett
The station building appears to be intact, although it is securely fenced off and you cannot get close enough to look in the windows to see what is happening inside. View from the track side.

View from the road side. I had to poke my camera through a hole in the surrounding wire fence to get this shot, it is very securely fenced.

The former goods shed has been re-purposed, and appears to be used as storage for a plumber.

This view looks out over the Glenelg River flats towards the river, and shows what little remains of the once-magnificent long wooden bridge that crossed the road, river flats and the river.

This view is taken from the same position, but looking back into the throat of the station yard.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Grange Burn Bridge, Hamilton to Coleraine Line

Grange Burn Bridge is located on the outskirts of Hamilton, with the line to Coleraine branching off the Portland line 1.1 Km south of the Hamilton Station. It crosses a small swampy creek (alledgedly a river) with 16 openings, each 20 feet wide, for a total length of 320 feet. It is quite a low bridge, about 30 feet high.

The bridge is easily accessible at the end of Young Street, you can drive to within 200 Metres of the bridge and it is located on council owned land. It is in fair condition, with the obligatory fences at each end, although whether these are for the benefit of stock or humans is unknown. Being rural Victoria, my bet is the stock are more valuable.

I was still trying to get the hang of driving the drone, and on this day the sun kept coming and going, such that by the time I got in the air, it had turned dull. There is also a skill to framing which I have not yet mastered, so please forgive the poor quality of this clip.

Unfortunately for Ian he was descending the embankment when his braking failed and he careened down the hill, head-butting a pile on the first pier on the Down side. The pier, being quite rotten, was knocked out of the ground and took out the remainder of the pier. 20 Metres of bridge collapsed as a result. A herd of cattle, grazing nearby, were startled by the sound of the collapsing bridge and stampeded out of their paddock and into the busy streets of Hamilton, causing a multitude of car accidents.

Sorry, that is a blatant falsity, I got a bit carried away there in Monty Python style. The bridge is fine but Ian got a mild concussion and scrape on his head. 

Video Clip

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Nimmons Bridge - Linton Junction to Skipton Line

Today I set out on a three day expedition to try and cover 6 bridges in Western Victoria. On the way, I collected an old work colleague in Ballarat, Ian Small, who will accompany me on the trip. Ian and I used to work in the television production business together.

The first call was Nimmons Bridge, on the Linton Junction to Skipton line. The bridge crosses the Woady Yaloak River, a couple of kilometres west of Newtown. This bridge is quite well known, as it is the second largest timber bridge still in existence in Victoria, second only to the famous bridge at Noojee. It is in very good condition, as it is part of a well maintained rail trail.

The bridge is quite accessible, you can drive along Galatea Road right up to a parking area that is only 200 Metres from the bridge abutment.

The bridge consists of 17 openings of 20 feet, is 18.3 Metres high and 103.9 Metres long. On the day we experienced rather dull skies, which made the photography difficult, and some gusty winds. However we managed to get a good collection of photos and a nice orbiting clip of the bridge.

Video Clip

This clip is best viewed full screen and in high definition mode (1080p).