Walhalla Goldfields Railways cease pass services - bushfires

 
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
Due to the presence of fires elsewhere in Gippsland (and extreme fire danger locally), on advice from the State Dep't of Sustainability & Environment, WGR has suspended operation of this weekend's scheduled services. Trains will not resume until the situation is clearer.

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  realmakoym8 Chief Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
I hope it all goes well. Good luck all!
  Adogs Chief Train Controller

The fire front in the Walhalla area was updated as follows on the CFA website an hour ago:

Urgent Update Coopers Creek Fire 5.50pm

Advise of update in wind change
14/12/2006

CFA advises that the fire front is expected to impact on properties in Walhalla, Coopers Creek, Maiden Town, Mormon Town, Happy Go Lucky, and Beardmore areas in one hour.

The fire continues to travel in a north easterly direction. Residents are urged to take all precautions against radiant heat.

Residents are advised that it is too late to leave the area.

Residents are advised to stay tuned into local radio.


If you're familiar with the area, Coopers Creek is just down the hill from where Platina station is on the former line, Maiden Town, Mormon Town and Happy Go Lucky are "suburbs" of Walhalla on top of the hills next to the valley.

I don't know where Beardmore is off the top of my head.

Doens't look good, probably hit town about ten minutes ago.  Apparently the fire went through Cowwarr and Toongabbie this afternoon and is headed for Heyfield.
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Beardmores is up adjacent to the Thomson dam wall on the Aberfeldy road.

Not good there at the moment, lots of friends in that area.

Screams arson that Coopers Creek fire.  Just like last years effort in the Hill End to Erica bush.  Someone asking to have their balls ripped out.  Same goes for the fire on the the Yinar side - very suss.

A Mate was telling me this afternoon that conditions were extreme with winds aroud the 60 to 70 k mark.  He was a former rail grinder operator with plenty of fire experience and the situation had him clearly nerved.

Hope someone is keeping an eye on the trestle bridges at WGR.
  18A Chief Commissioner

Location: On the tramway
The WGR has requisted Puffing Billy's Low Loader to have on stand by or to remove some rolling stock soon.  Given the status of teh fire at Coopers Creek i think it would be wise to try and get as much out as possible.  This has come from a confirmed source that the trailer has been requsited by WGR and is not a rumor.  Not sure if it has been moved from selby to the WGR yet, more info to come tomorrow.

Cheers, Stefan
  Ballast_Plough Chief Commissioner

Location: Lilydale, Vic
Stefan,

News tonight said people in those areas have to stay as its too late to move out - so maybe the window to move stock has gone?
  18A Chief Commissioner

Location: On the tramway
I think it may have.  The request was made around 10am i believe but no move had been made as of around 2pm.  I am just going by what i know.  Maybe the window has gone, but i dont know.  There is nothing on WGR's so we shall just have to wait till the morning.

I don't know where Beardmore is off the top of my head.
"Adogs"

It is north of Walhalla, and east of the Thomson Dam wall

Cheers, Stefan
  Adogs Chief Train Controller

Update this morning was that the urgent threat message has been lifted.  Still don't know how much was burnt and where.

On the radio last night they said the Coopers Creek fire was deliberately lit.
  18A Chief Commissioner

Location: On the tramway
Is all the rolling stock still kept at Thomson?  As i have noticed on WGR's website that it says all trains orignate and terminate at Walhalla.  Is some stock kept in the shed there or does it run light from Thomson?

Cheers, Stefan
  Capegauge Chief Train Controller

Maybe it would all fit on the Thomson Bridge  Wink  If the bridge doesn't burn or buckle, it would be safe.
  Capegauge Chief Train Controller

Maybe it would all fit on the Thomson Bridge  Wink  If the bridge doesn't burn or buckle, it would be safe.
  18A Chief Commissioner

Location: On the tramway
I was thinking the same thing, but then there is still a chance of embers getting to it on the bridge, and while its on the bridge there is no way of defending it.  Also while the bridge may have steel girders and concrete piers in the middle, it also has a timber decking, which if trains were parked on it and they burnt out would leave stranded on the bridge or would allow them to become unstable and fall off.

If you really wanted to make them safe one of the places could be to build a short spur line directly down the thomson river and park them on the beach down there with a couple of water pumps.

Cheers, Stefan
  skitz Chief Commissioner

The sheds at Thomson would be the best place to keep the rolling stock.

By the way nearly all rolling stock is kept at Thomson.  It would be a matter of pulling the Erica spur/storage siding items in the open ( they are in amongst the scrub usually where they live)   Maybe onto the loop at Thomson or the yard at Walhalla where there is no adjacent vegetation. You need to be there to keep an eye on things and put out any spots etc from flying embers.

The only outstanding thing would be to augment the weter supply from the river.

Thomson bridge would be pretty straight forward.   The timbers biggest risk if from fire below and clean up there would be priority and there is plenty of water if a fire pump is set up.  Fire from above (sleepers and exposed deck) could be controlled with simple patrol with a nap-sack.   Thomson bridge would be safe to patrol if a front cam through as well, easy to keep out of harms way there.

The bridges up the gorge would be a fair bit harder with access and personnel safety. If something really got going there would be nowhere to go and a serious personnel risk.

The only reason Craigs Hut burnt down is that there was no one there to defend it.  I am told only a small grass fire lead up to the hut where it started (so my informant tells me) that ordinarily could have been stomped out with your foot.

Wish every body the best of luck in Vic at the moment (says he who is stuck in WA)
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
Have just returned from Walhalla where a CFA briefing was held for locals. The situation is presently under very close observation by the DSE/CFA, with a major firebreak being cut about 5km to the east of  Walhalla, to join the northern fire front. There are some very resourceful CFA & mining people at Walhalla who are well prepared, bearing in mind that weather conditions are favourable for the next few days.

The Henschel steam loco was removed this morning for safe storage elsewhere, and there are presently no plans to repatriate the WGR's rollingstock, which is nearly all stored in locked sheds at Thomson. WGR personnel have been carrying out fire prevention works on site during the week.

WGR's immediate and pressing concern is that it's income has ceased just before the busy Christmas holiday period. Standing costs like public liability, utilities and employee expenses keep ticking over.

Subject to the fire situation improving, the best case scenario is that trains could resume some time next week, the worst case might be that we lose all of January. Of course, all this assumes there is no fire damage to the infrastructure.  

My family has a 140 year old miners cottage at Walhalla which is also a major concern for me personally. Having seen the devastation of last Thursday, it's scary stuff. We just have to wait.
  skitz Chief Commissioner

Thanks for the update Rob.

40deg today in Perth, no cool weather on the way
  gippslander Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Gippsland, Vic
I spoke to the people at the Star Hotel at Walhalla at 2230hrs - the fire was only 1km to the east of the town at the suburb of Maidentown, where there are a few houses. The word was the fire is travelling quite fast, so it's looking like Custer's last stand for the old place. We will spend an anxious night wondering how the town (population 12) is travelling.
  Adogs Chief Train Controller

CFA website had an urgent threat announcement for Walhalla and Maidentown at 10.15am today saying embers would probably be arriving shortly and the towns could be impacted.

So maybe it hasn't moved much in the last 12 hours?  I can't imagine how you'd actually defend the town in that valley...  Back burn straight up the hillsides I guess, but you'd probably just wipe yourself out.

The town and people living in Walhalla are first priority, but does anyone know if the fire's been through the Stringer's Creek Gorge where the string of railway bridges are, or has it all been on the other side of the ridge?
  639 Chief Commissioner

Just saw the news they said water bombers were going to bomb the line to try and save it.

what will be the case if they don't save the line? will they re-build it?.

I really feel for the people in Walhalla at the moment such a great little town.
  Barrington Womble Photo Nazi

Location: Exit...Stage Left!
I would say 'yes' they would.
  6a