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.
Is the 3 span bridge the big, tall one with the stone/concrete pillars?
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.
I noticed this to.
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).
The location in railway terms is 105Miles 03Chains 60Links from Melbourne. 24Miles 91Chains 46Links Local (from Moe)