Walhalla Goldfields Railways cease pass services - bushfires

 
  18A Chief Commissioner

Location: On the tramway
yeah a couple of years back in 2003 just after the line reopened all the way into walhalla there was a rockslide closing the road into walhalla and vicroads i believe contracted out the train to run during the whole time the road was closed (about a week?).  I believe this consisted of running about 4 trains each day for supplies in and out of walhalla.

Cheers, Stefan

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  skitz Chief Commissioner

Here are some more emails updates getting around from the front.......

1.

(For circulation)



Dear all,

       Just a quick update to keep you all informed. I have spoken to Harvey and he has told me that he is forwarding these emails to everyone so will endeavour to explain everything!

Everyone in town is well but a bit sick of the place, each other and the damn smoke! The flies are unbelievable during the day - the small bush flies - I think the 850,000 hectares of bushflies have left the burnt area and shifted to town.

The fire spread today is as follows....

1/ The fire crept under Number 2 bridge on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway. This is the second bridge from Walhalla. This fire crept up towards the road and was stopped at the road by about 5 CFA / DSE fire appliances. This area ended up about 15m wide at the road. The train was used with a DSE fire unit on the flat top carriage in the Stringers Creek Gorge. The fire was rather hot around Happy Creek and at teh time of writing this the small shed down there may be no more??? The flat bed carriage may also need a new coat of paint!

2/ A spot fire started at hte corner of Mormon Town Track and the Alpine Walking Track. This may have started from the nearby fire at the Horse Shoe Tunnel. This burnt out about 4-5 hectares and DSE crews are workking on rakehoe trails as I type. They hope to round it up over night.

3/ The DSE has worked on numerous rakehoe trails to the north of the Cricket ground and will decide where to light depending on weather etc. This will be in the next few days???

It is incredible the anount of burnt material landing in the town. I saw a ribbon of bark about 18 inches long land in a tree. It was black but a warning that we must be on the ball.

Last night I mentioned that John Patterson had lost his poly pipe from his header tank. I grabbed 2 x 50mm angle joiners and Ian Dye has done an impromptue repair.

We will be monitoring for burning embers through the night. A small stick langed in Jack Reynolds place and burnt an area in the lawn a few inches wide.

Cheers for now,

Brian Brewer


and, 2.

Hi to all

Just had a call from Bernice

David has been able to find the melted phone line and reconnect the phone and phoned Bernice with the following info.

R A & D walked the line from Walhalla to happy Creek

there is 6 trees and some brush over the line 2 of the trees are large

the bundle of approx 100 old sleepers at Happy Creek have been burnt all structures are ok

the fire is slowly burning down to the back of the carriage shed at Walhalla David will attempt to clean up today

the fire has jumped the line between bridges 2&3 no damage to infostructure at 1st look

fire is burning slowly towards Thomson Station still has a way to get there yet BUT with the predicted North winds will  get there quickly


Note, the sleepers they are refering to are not sleepers in the track, there was a stack of removed sleepers near happy creek.
  skitz Chief Commissioner

This one was sent 10:10 Vic time.



David has relocated to Thomson
fire has reached the river but not come over as yet.
David will remain at Thomson watching for embers there is a gang working from Walhalla to remove trees from the line fire has burnt down to line in some places Regards

Gary P.
  skitz Chief Commissioner

This one was sent at 11:25 vic time

Fire has not crossed the river as yet but has come down to the water line in some places Loco and carriages at Thomson are parked on the centre track (probably means main line at Thomson Loop) to give max protection.

David started up track with chainsaws to assist with removal of trees Too hot so had to return to Thomson.  Spot fires have been douced by helicopter from RA.  Bridge 7 "3span bridge" deck has been burnt and fire is continuing down the trestles.  The railway line is being used as the first containment line and the road the major containment.
Regards

Gary P.


Note the exact status of bridge seven is not confirmed.
  skitz Chief Commissioner

This one was sent at 11:25 vic time

Fire has not crossed the river as yet but has come down to the water line in some places Loco and carriages at Thomson are parked on the centre track (probably means main line at Thomson Loop) to give max protection.

David started up track with chainsaws to assist with removal of trees Too hot so had to return to Thomson.  Spot fires have been douced by helicopter from RA.  Bridge 7 "3span bridge" deck has been burnt and fire is continuing down the trestles.  The railway line is being used as the first containment line and the road the major containment.
Regards

Gary P.


Note the exact status of bridge seven is not confirmed.
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
Confirm the 3 span bridge near Happy Creek has been effectively destroyed this morning. We were able to save the six larger bridges at the up end of Walhalla thanks to fire bombing by Elvis, and the efforts of a WGR fire attack train yesterday. A large stack of new sleepers at Happy Creek station was saved.

The passenger cars are at Walhalla with the Kasey diesel loco whilst the Fowler loco is at Thomson. Next steps are to assess the state of damage to track (numerous burnt sleepers, overhanging and collapsed smouldering trees - it looks like a disaster site.) Once the rail easement has been secured we will need to work out how to fund and rebuild the 3 span bridge in the shortest possible time. Meanwhile, all income has ceased!

We'll get there.

Rob @ Walhalla
  jayrail Assistant Commissioner

Location: te Anau Southern Alps NZ
these recent info from reliable source a relief to WGR members;always a worry for heritage railways in mountain terrain.Hotham Valley at the Darling Ranges face similar concerns as a recent burn at Etmyln caused formation bridges burn out.Unconfirmed that that G threw cinders on the forest floor.we share your anxiety.
  ThatGuyOverThere Deputy Commissioner

Location: Vocation: Migration: Animation:
Article from The Age:
One of eight bridges that form part of a tourist railway near Walhalla has been destroyed by bushfires, as crews battle this afternoon to protect the seven remaining.

Yesterday crews managed to save six of the bridges, today saving the most substantial bridge on the line after aircraft, including an air crane known as Malcolm, dumped water on the blaze.

But the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) confirmed today that one bridge was burnt by the main fire in the area while the air crane was on the ground re-fuelling.

The popular tourist icon, which attracts around 30,000 people each year, is made up of eight bridges and 4.5 kilometres of track between Thomson and Walhalla.

The proprietor of Walhalla's Star Hotel, Michael Leaney, said he believed it was bridge number seven that had been lost, situated in a gully approximately two kilometres from the town.

Mr Leaney said the timber bridge cost about $500,000.

"Where are we going to get half-a-million bucks from?" he said. "Every government department is going on holidays now and so for two weeks there will be no decisions made, no money handed out, nothing and so we can't even start work on repairs."

The Walhalla Goldfields Railway is the reconstruction of the most spectacular section of the original Moe-Walhalla railway which operated from 1910 until 1944.

Opened in 2002 and installed by volunteers, it is considered a significant contributor to the area's economy.

Walhalla residents remain on high alert today for ember attacks and have been urged to activate their fire plans.

Walhalla Road - the main road into the town - remains closed to all non-emergency traffic.
"The Age (snipped)"
  RM62 Deputy Commissioner

Is the 3 span bridge the big, tall one with the stone/concrete pillars?
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Is the 3 span bridge the big, tall one with the stone/concrete pillars?
"RM62"


No, its a small three span bridge about halfway between Thomson and Walhalla.  All timber construction.  I forget what the spans are, about 15ft each.

Already action of rebuild straight away with some money (a start) being pledged and organisation underway.

Well done to Rob, David and the boys for their efforts, hope they achieve a good outcome on top of their efforts thus far.
  RM62 Deputy Commissioner

Right, thanks for that.
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Saw dramatic ABC footage tonight around the railway.  My thoughts are with you all.

Regards,
David Head
  rjch Beginner

Hi guys!

Just wanted to let you know that a number of your "cousin" volunteers at Puffing Billy are both very concerned and thinking of you!  Belgrave station was buzzing a bit this afternoon at the sad news of the loss of bridge seven.

Here's hoping that everything gets up and running for you ASAP and that things turn out for the best!
  TBP Minister for Railways

Location: Singleton
Sorry to hear about the bridge, just saw it on Sky News, I wish WGR the best of luck and hope that all goes well and my thoughts are with you as well.
It's sad when any of our rail heritage and tourist railways alike get damaged/ distroyed. I hope that no one has been hurt in anyway as well.
Best of luck.
  John of Melbourne The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Melbourne suburbs
Channel 9's news showed shots of the Thompson River bridge, giving the distinct impression that it was that bridge that had burnt.  Close-up shots of flames lapping the piers, however, were of a wooden trestle bridge, presumably the one that got burnt.
  18A Chief Commissioner

Location: On the tramway
photo of the thomson river bridge curtosy of The Age



that shows that it has timber trestle ends of which the fire is very close to.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Hopefully it's a lot quieter there today after the rains last night.

It may be sometime before WGR is able to resume services (and income!) but when it happens we'll be happy to come back and travel.

All the best guys, our thoughts are with you and all those affected by these fires.
  639 Chief Commissioner

Channel 9's news showed shots of the Thompson River bridge, giving the distinct impression that it was that bridge that had burnt.  Close-up shots of flames lapping the piers, however, were of a wooden trestle bridge, presumably the one that got burnt.
"John of Melbourne"


I noticed this to.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Channel 9's news showed shots of the Thompson River bridge, giving the distinct impression that it was that bridge that had burnt.  Close-up shots of flames lapping the piers, however, were of a wooden trestle bridge, presumably the one that got burnt.
"John of Melbourne"


I noticed this to.
"639"


Very likely using stock footage and a clip of the latest from the fires knitted together.  To a journo a bridge is a bridge ..................
  Paradise Locomotive Driver

Can anyone in the know point out the correct position of the bridge in question by map ?
There seems to be no decent maps of the railway online.
Here is a map of the Walhalla area below (No railway though).

http://download.com.au/map_street_au_full.htm?State=Victoria&Town=Walhalla&Street=&Lat=-37.9497&Lon=146.4365&Zoom=15
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Can anyone in the know point out the correct position of the bridge in question by map ?
There seems to be no decent maps of the railway online.
Here is a map of the Walhalla area below (No railway though).

http://download.com.au/map_street_au_full.htm?State=Victoria&Town=Walhalla&Street=&Lat=-37.9497&Lon=146.4365&Zoom=15
"Paradise"


The location in railway terms is 105Miles 03Chains 60Links from Melbourne.  24Miles 91Chains 46Links Local (from Moe)

Three openings each 15ft.

On the map you havethe link to its directly below the middle 'Walhalla Road label on the easment that is shown below the creek.  (where the dog leg is in the raod.  The bridge sometimes refered to as Cascades and was the limit of operations for a little while before happy creek was comissioned.
  6a Station Staff

just had a look at the channel seven footage about the bridge over the Thomson catching fire and she does imply that the bridge is destroyed.
  BJ Titsengolf That's Numberwang!

Location: Right here, right now, right here, right now...
The location in railway terms is 105Miles 03Chains 60Links from Melbourne.  24Miles 91Chains 46Links Local (from Moe)
"skitz"


Ah. Thanks for that. In terms of the bridges on that section of line, it is one of the smallest. While that's only a small consolation, thing could have been much worse.
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Bare with me, I have got some pics of the bridge (x4) have managed to upload them to a gallery (under my user name) and will now see if I can get them onto here.  I have never have had the urge to learn how until now - after 560 odd post you reckon I would have!

Bridge 7 pics

[gallery=http://gallery.railpage.com.au/modules.php?full=1&set_albumName=skitz&id=Bush_FIRE_Dec_06_Bridge_7_005&name=gallery&include=view_photo.php]
[gallery=http://gallery.railpage.com.au/modules.php?full=1&set_albumName=skitz&id=Bush_FIRE_Dec_06_Bridge_7_008&name=gallery&include=view_photo.php]
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Ahhh, it works!

No more excuses not to post wherisit photos now...... Wink

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