A Bridge Through Time
Driving the bridge piles in 1900, viewed from the old road.
The Baron, a mountain ash or, as they were called then, a blackbutt, 220ft or 66 metres tall and 48'6" or 14.5 metres around usually measured about 8 feet off the ground so that didn't include the extensive buttressing that was a feature of these giants. This tree grew in the Sassafras Gully. This range was covered in mature mountain ash and this tree was in no way remarkable 40 years before this photograph was taken. Girths of up to 88 ft and 27ft diameters were recorded. Timber getters and fires had seen to most of the biggest already. The last big trees such as this one survived in steep damp refuges such as the Sassafras Gully
*Emerald bullocky Jim Legge's team parked on the Selby side of the creek (on Patrick Gannon's land) at the bottom of Stoney
Road, then the only road, circa just pre-1910, judging by the regrowth at the bridge clearing and the two-pile piers on the
bridge in the background.
*A log on the tramway en-route to Mahony's mill about 1910. D.W. McKenzie is in charge.
Whenever any uneven ground was encountered, the tramway builders just went over it and propped the tramway up on any old sticks
that happened to be lying around, or so it would appear.
This appears to be the earliest photograph of train-on-bridge that we have. It's pre-1910 as the bridge is still a two pile
per pier construction with horizontal "whalers" bracing it. The bridge was rebuilt in 1910. The train appears to
be a works train. It may have been taken soon after the line was opened.
C. 1920's Note the neglected and thus flammable gully floor beneath the bridge and the calibre of the S&T pole that anchors
(rather unsuccessfully, it appears) a 250ft cable run. This particular railway never, ever made money and went through periods
of sad neglect by the Commissioners, not always incidental.
Looking towards Selby and Black Hill, named for its earlier regional landmark covering of burnt trees, which can be seen in
the distance. The angle of the dangle suggests the photo was taken from the Yanakie house. Presumably a weekday mid-morning
"mixed consist" train. There are no excursion cars in the set. Tarpaulins cover freight on two NQR's up front. This
was what most trains looked like, with more or less passenger carriages attached. The third rail is the check rail, a safety
device once used on all corners but removed in the thirties from all but bridge curves. The Signals & Telegraph cabling
takes a right-angled turn at this pole and the next is 250ft away across the gully. Note that the Permanent Way land each
side of the track was cleared (when the railway was well-maintained
This is the late 1940's or early 50's, The main road to Emerald has been deviated and routed under the bridge by this stage
and the old level crossing was only in use for high or wide loads (the Mt Lyell carriages, now used as dining cars, came this
way on their journey to the Menzies Creek Museum) and for stock movements. The roadway clearance height was later increased
to 4.3 metres (17 feet) by lowering the road and installing new piers. The old level crossing by-pass formation is now gated
and unused. The S&T blokes have turned up in the meantime and fixed up the telegraph wires with some proper poles and
the Trespassers Prosecuted sign has been given a new white post. This train has two tourist excursion cars in amongst the
set but no dangling legs.
The embankment over the Clematis Creek that became the site of the new Puffing Billy station, completed in 1962. The present
loco workshops would occupy the centre of the picture. Belgrave House lies on the hillside in the background and the old Monbulk
road level-crossing, complete with cattle grids, can be seen below the house. In the far background is the fire devastated
Coles Ridge. There were serious wild fires in 1898 when much of the forest and the town was burnt and many guest houses like
this one perished.
Bridge 8 lies in the Wright Forest between Lakeside (Emerald East) and Cockatoo Creek. It is of very similar dimensions to
the Monbulk Creek Bridge, but a tad higher. For many years after the railway closure it stood in a ricketty and dangerous
condition from fire damage and old age and used only by the bravest of hikers before finally cashing in it's chips in the
catastrophic Ash Wednesday fires of 1983.
From near the end of the present Upwey station looking downhill (towards the up end) to Fern Tree Gully.
A somewhat larger specimen of the Victorian Railways timber trestle bridge species.
Most of the giant trees of Gippsland were ringbarked and the land was burnt, several times to deal with regrowth, to clear the land for farming, one of the Strezlecki "Big Scrub" fires raining ashes on New Zealand. The timber was never used as it was too far from any markets and the enormous grey skeletons were a feature of the landscape well into the 20th century. This particular tree, after being ringbarked by a man with an axe and it and it's forest companions burnt by a man with a match, is long dead by the time these fellows posed with the carcase
Tarra Bulga Valley, Strezlecki Range, South Gippsland 1900. Tree stumps were used as schools and churches while a tree in
front of a Warragul hotel was sawn at ground level and was employed as a dance floor
Habitarunt di quoque silvas
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