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Views From A Bridge

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If optimism is merely a lack of information,
then pessimism is surely a lack of imagination....

Towards Enlightened Solutions


The Friends believe that there is enough mature remnant forest vegetation remaining in this gully to contribute to rapid re-population of native species, if we can remove the weeds in a timely fashion, before too much more of this rare type of forest is overwhelmed and lost to us
This beautiful gully can certainly be rehabilitated and we'll need a big hand but we really need to think big to achieve this goal before we're all dead and and most of all, we need a Cunning Plan

There are many challenges, ranging from the effective co-ordination of the stake-holders to the more prosaic difficulties of physically accessing a lot of this 50-acre site due to weed thickets and/or the very demanding steep slopes that the railway traverses with only the railway track as dubious foot access for forest workers and, of course, nobody has manpower to throw at this difficult job in a hidden valley tucked away between Belgrave and Selby and well down priority lists, balancing on the edge of several too-hard baskets

We at the Friends of the Trestle Bridge feel that there is an innovative way of reconciling all the above issues in a positive way with a single project that should lie within the means of the combined stake-holders capacity to raise funds and would deliver immediate tangible benefits to all concerned, rather than just involving "out-goings" as most repairs tend to and we also feel that the time is ripe for organising this project

Currently Yarra Ranges Council are conducting a feasibility study into an easy grade pathway from Belgrave to Emerald, apparently, chiefly along the railway edge. None of those ridge towns have connecting paths

The Belgrave to Selby route options are very limited
The main road is too steep and the has no verges as is Stoney Road
Most of the rail track is very steep and has no verges either to route it that way

The option to walk or ride a bicycle, in lieu of getting about in planet-destroying cars, is not open to residents of this ridge.
Both simple amenities of riding and walking, whether to commute or recreate, are either too physically demanding or too downright dangerous to be considered by most potential petrol/planet savers. Some of us actually do not own or desire to get about via infernal combustion engines but are not catered for at all

If you live in Selby and want to get to Belgrave using pedal power or Shank's pony, how is one to do it without risking being mown down on the side of a narrow hills road with blind corners or flaunting the $200 penalty warnings posted on the Puffing Billy track

It could be argued that the lack of provision of proper, gazetted pathways between towns is a rather long-term failure by our elected representatives, both at council and state level to provide basic services to ratepayers and taxpayers and children who are neither.

The notion of a feasibility study implies that there is the option of dropping the project for fiscal or whatever reason by deciding that the proposal is "not feasible" which we Friends believe is the least creative option.


A solution in a forest walk

We are floating and promoting the concept of building a boardwalk, in the form of a timber tramway along the Clematis Creek linking the narrow-gauge station and the trestle bridge

marysville timber tramway
The Marysville timber tramway in central Victoria

Until 1927, Mahony's mill was situated several hundred metres upstream from the bridge and 3-foot gauge, wooden-railed tramways went along the Monbulk and Hardy's creeks out into the forest up as far as Cook's Corner

Another tramway connected the mill with the original Belgrave narrow-gauge station yard by first running under the trestle bridge and along the creek, arcing up to the old road over rail bridge and then running along the low side of the main street (there were no shops on the steep slope between the blacksmiths at the road bridge and the current Puffing Billy Cafe) and then down to the rail yard

A new tramway/boardwalk would be re-enstating this local feature
It's not as steep as any of the other possiblilities for a path and there are creek flats and it has a natural gentle fall from the station.

Very little excavation and disturbance is required for this type of construction, just holes in the ground

Even though the potentials and long-term benefits are plain, we shall outline a few

A boardwalk would have significant value-adding potential to Puffing Billy, providing something for visitors to do whilst waiting for train movements where at present they will often decamp for other attractions when there is a decent wait for a train

The boardwalk could be used in the railway's maketing as a forest walk adjunct to a trip on the little train. Part of the Puffing Billy experience.

It has the potential to attract visitors to station and bridge that come for reasons other than steamrail.

Many visitors aren't aware that there is a heritage bridge just down the road (just down the road indeed) and even the patrons on the trains who see it as they pass over it, would need a cut lunch and a blacktracker to go there for a closer look after their train trip.

There is an obvious destination potential from an easy rain-forest/bridge walk within 5 minutes of the big railway and the main street and benefits for other businesses who trade on the attractions of this town at the forest edge.

A facility such as this has potential to take some visitor pressure off some of the more well-patronised forest access sites. Grant's Picnic Ground sees 500,000 visitors a year.

The grades involved would facilitate disabled access into the forest fern gully, currently only really catered for at Grant's with it's Margaret Lester Forest Walk, a forest walk that doesn't give real access to a creek and closed fern gully.


Click picture for a map of the Selby tramways

It could be easily and efficiently constructed by employment schemes as a community benefit

We reckon such a project would compliment the heritage railway and has a modern style precedent in the recently opened Belgrave Town Park with it's replica trestle bridge switchback access ramp

Of course it would be only fair that we declare a vested interest here

We want people to be able to get into this fern gully and see how beautiful it is as well as getting workers into the area to get rid of the weeds, something currently very difficult and problematic

If you have a comment, either positive and supportive or negative and disparaging, we don't care which, then click on the Contact Us link at the bottom of this page and write or call us and tell us about what you think


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