Bridges Leading Us Home

Photography: Trish Jean

Traveling back from Melbourne at the start of the month, we took the opportunity to take breaks at five bridges. I really enjoy photographing bridges. They have a story, they provide connection, they are about creation and possibility. They’re also a great metaphor and feature in the citizen led 10 City Bridge Run an initiative of my friend Matt Jones. Check it out by clicking here and get a new insight into how we can think about human bridges and their importance in making a difference to our fellow, global citizens.

You can also see these pictures on the Building Bridges page on facebook, along with some other amazing bridge pictures from around the world. You’ll find that by clicking here and feel free to join the community and share your own bridge photos.

I’ve added extra photos here and made these beautiful bridges available to friends who don’t use facebook – especially you Miriam! Can you believe we’ve both been to some amazing places and blogged photos to share?!

Warragul to Noojee Rail Bridge

Branching off from the Gippsland line at Warragul station, this bridge was built to service the timber industry in the upper Latrobe River area, enabling the transporting timber as well as providing for a general goods and passenger service to townships in the area. The final section of the line between Neerim South and Noojee traversed increasingly hilly terrain and featured a number of large timber trestle bridges. Extensively and repeatedly damaged by bushfires over the years, the line was closed in the 1950s and dismantled. The last remaining large trestle bridge on the line has been preserved. It’s 100 kms from Melbourne and can be found off Duggan Road, Icy Creek

Warragul to Noojee2

We drove through rain and sleet and snow to get to this bridge, and it was so great that when we arrived it was like a different climate lives about the bridge. It was cold, damp and muddy, but the light was lovely and it highlighted the beautiful colours of the wood in the bridge.

Warragul to Noojee1

The bridge is fully accessible. You can walk right up to it and look underneath. There are also stairs beside the bridge that take you up to the top. There was no one else there and the bridge is surrounded by beautiful bush and frequented by birds. It was a lovely time out from life to stop and think about the history of the bridge and what life would have been like during its heyday.

Warragul to Noojee3

Bridge over the River Avon at Stratford

When we left this bridge we headed for Victoria’s Gippsland. Our next stop was at Stratford, on the river Avon. A great spot to stop for a walk and again a bridge that you can get up close to and really explore.

Avon on Stratford4

Avon @ Stratford1

I love the contrast of the wood and steel and how it seems a little haphazard. Interesting to think about how we build ourselves up over time too with new materials and structures to keep our purpose and strength. I think I enjoyed photographing this one the most due to its diversity.

Bridge over Avon 2

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I also really loved that I could peer inside the big wooden piers, designed to withstand high waters.

Avon on Stratford3

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Nicholson River Railway Bridge

We came across this bridge as we continued our journey. I had my eye out for a bridge we’d passed on the way  across the bottom of Victoria to Wilsons Promontory…this was not it. That bridge disappeared into trees. This one was a nice surprise, but not accessible for close up shots. I instead, as a beginner at photography, enjoyed trying to get photos of the bridge and the surrounds.

Nicholson River Orbost1

The Nicholson River Railway Bridge is historically, scientifically and aesthetically significant at a State level. Built in very difficult years of wartime labour and material shortages, during 1915-1916, it is a substantial single-track sixteen-span composite timber-steel-concrete structure of unique design, with a total deck length of 180 metres and standing at an impressive height above the broad floodplain.

Nicholson River Orbost2

Stony Creek Trestle Bridge

The Stony Creek Trestle Bridge, between Lakes Entrance & Orbost and 4.5 km west of Nowa Nowa, Vic, at 247 metres in length and 20 metres high, is the largest wooden trestle bridge in the southern hemisphere. The line remained in service for 60 years until it sustained bushfire damage in 1980. The last train to travel over the Stony Creek trestle bridge was in 1988.

Stony Creek Tresle Bridge1

We stumbled across this bridge also as we kept an eye out for the illusive tree-bound train line. It’s not maintained so it’s fenced off. Another great location and you can walk down beside the bridge and be impressed at its construction and height.

Stony Creek Trestle Bridge2

Snowy River Floodplain Railway Bridge

Finally we found it! I didn’t have a lens that could get a closer photo of the bridge heading into the trees, but my imagination was on-song thinking about what world you find as you disappear from sight on the train!

Snowy River Flood Plain 3

The Snowy River Floodplain Railway Bridges, two sequential and exceptionally long and low timber railway bridges on the Snowy River floodplain just west of Orbost, were built in 1916, and provided the original terminus point for the Bairnsdale-Orbost railway. The bridges are 770 metres and 183 metres long respectively. The shorter bridge is of uniformly 4.57 metre (fifteen feet) timber-beam construction; retains its all-timber integrity, and has a sweeping curve in its deck. The longer bridge has a combination of 4.57 metre (fifteen feet) and 6.1 metre (twenty feet) spans, and two 3.66 metre (twelve feet) spans; it has concrete replacing timber in the abutments and a few flood-damaged timber beams have been replaced by steel joists.

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The bridges are unusually constructed from ‘Southern Mahogany’, Eucalyptus Botryoides, which grew along the coast east of Bairnsdale. The Snowy floodplain bridges were initially built in the context of an early twentieth-century interest in American-style ‘Developmental Railways’, designed to open remote areas to closer settlement, even if that meant running at a loss. The line was closed in August 1987.

Snowy River Flood Plain 2

In the photos below you can see the contemporary, vehicle bridge that runs parallel to the railway bridge. The car in the bottom photo almost looks like it’s using the wooden bridge.

Snowy River Flood Plain 1

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What a great way to have broken up a long drive. We took 13 hours to get from Fitzroy in Melbourne, Victoria, to Dalmeny on the South Coast of NSW. I was tempted to take photos along the coast on my way home from Dalmeny to the Writers Wrest in Wollongong, NSW early the next morning…but with a heap of work awaiting me I decided that could be a treat for another day!

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