Algebuckina bridge - Neales River - old Ghan line

 
  trestle_nutter Train Controller

Location: Yarra Valley
In 1977 I camped beside the Neales River where the old Ghan line crossed via the Algebuckina bridge. The next morning a cattle train crossed the bridge but because I was nearly out of film in my camera, I did not get a photo of it. I have found a number of photos of the bridge, on the internet, that have been taken in recent years since the line was moved west, but have not found any of a train on the bridge. Does any one have one that they could post here or know where one could be found?
cheers......

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  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
There is some video on Youtube of a train on the bridge.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P94w94BdCUc
  Rodo Chief Commissioner

Location: Southern Riverina
I camped under the Algebuckina bridge in 1976. I had a train disturb my sleep but took no photos.
  Expost Chief Commissioner

Its still a very impressive bridge.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
In 1977 I camped beside the Neales River where the old Ghan line crossed via the Algebuckina bridge. The next morning a cattle train crossed the bridge but because I was nearly out of film in my camera, I did not get a photo of it. I have found a number of photos of the bridge, on the internet, that have been taken in recent years since the line was moved west, but have not found any of a train on the bridge. Does any one have one that they could post here or know where one could be found?
cheers......
trestle_nutter

Have sent you a PM.
  trestle_nutter Train Controller
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
It's a really amazing Victorian-era bridge.

I've always wondered if the new route is any less prone to flooding than the old one?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
It's a really amazing Victorian-era bridge.

I've always wondered if the new route is any less prone to flooding than the old one?
don_dunstan

Yes, the route via Tarcoola is much much less prone to flooding but not completely so.
I am not aware of services being cancelled ('suspended' is the euphemism for 'cancelled' these days) for the weeks that used to be the case at the Peake, Finke, Alberga, Stevenson, Alberga and so many other rivers crossed by the narrow gauge.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Thanks for posting these TN.
Much too complicated for me to do so!!!! Wink
YM
  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
Its still a very impressive bridge.
"Expost"

Certainly is.
I have always wondered if the story about it originally being intended for the 'Murray Bridge' river crossing, but being too short has any truth in it.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Yes, the route via Tarcoola is much much less prone to flooding but not completely so.
I am not aware of services being cancelled ('suspended' is the euphemism for 'cancelled' these days) for the weeks that used to be the case at the Peake, Finke, Alberga, Stevenson, Alberga and so many other rivers crossed by the narrow gauge.
YM-Mundrabilla

Did the old route run along the river-beds of most of those? I think the story of the Algebuckina is that it was one of the few serious attempts at crossing a flood-plain on that line -
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Certainly is.
I have always wondered if the story about it originally being intended for the 'Murray Bridge' river crossing, but being too short has any truth in it.
Pressman

I don't know but it seems unlikely to me. Bridges of this nature are only basically a series of more or less individual spans and which could be extended indefinitely simply by adding additional spans unlike, say, an arch bridge whose span either fits or it doesn't.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Did the old route run along the river-beds of most of those? I think the story of the Algebuckina is that it was one of the few serious attempts at crossing a flood-plain on that line -
don_dunstan

The rivers broadly ran east - west whilst the railway ran north - south. As such, there were innumerable rivers that the line crossed which were dry for almost all the time; but when it rained that was another story.

I don't know the line intimately, but the Neales River and William Creek, for example, were better defined in the landscape and were crossed on 'proper' bridges than, say, the Finke, and Stevenson. I have walked across the Finke and the Stevenson at Ilbunga when they were dry and the nature of the river bed (and the surrounding country) confirms the virtual impossibility of bridging them in any practical, long lasting and/or economic manner.

There have been at least two bridges over the Finke, the latter one being little more than a series of low level concrete piers and short spans. I am not sure about the original but I have a feeling that it may have been only a little better. I have seen a photo of the wreckage of this bridge but do not remember the details. Neither bridge lasted long and the second only a year or two.

Basically, at Finke and Ilbunga (which are the only two locations that I have actually walked), the railway simply crossed the somewhat ill defined dry river bed. This was OK most of the time but............!! At Finke in the mid 1970s all that was visible were two rails in the sand of the river bed. The sleepers being completely covered. Ilbunga was more or less the same. The NSUs knew the way across from habit I think. Smile

Lake Eyre was usually quite a distance from the railway (maybe a kilometre or two) but in the mid 1970s it would have covered the railway had not CR raised the track by at least a metre or two and even then the water of the lake was lapping the raised formation and one could feel the spray from the train.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
YM - thanks for that.

I'd imagine the landscape made it virtually impossible for proper crossings to be built through those flood-plains. It would have meant impossibly long low trestle type structures like (for example) the Snowy River trestle on the outskirts of Orbost (VIC). They may have still been swept away or inundated in heavy rain years anyway.

I also didn't realise that Lake Eyre was so close to the bridge - interesting.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
YM - thanks for that.

I'd imagine the landscape made it virtually impossible for proper crossings to be built through those flood-plains. It would have meant impossibly long low trestle type structures like (for example) the Snowy River trestle on the outskirts of Orbost (VIC). They may have still been swept away or inundated in heavy rain years anyway.

I also didn't realise that Lake Eyre was so close to the bridge - interesting.
don_dunstan

Sorry, I hope that I haven't confused the matter as I just threw Lake Eyre in as another example of the power of water in relation to the old Central Australia Railway. Lake Eyre is only a hundred km or so north of Marree.
  allan Chief Commissioner

The bridge to cross the Murray was cast in England for assembly (not surprisingly) at Murray Bridge. It arrived with one broken pylon. A replacement pylon was cast at the foundry of James Hooker, in Hindly St, Adelaide. Hooker's foundry relocated to Kilburn, and was named the Lion Foundry, where the Algebuckena bridge was cast and fabricated. I guess that it is likely that the pattern used to make the replacement pylon (likely the original broken pylon) was used again for the Algebuckina bridge - hence the similarity.

James Hooker was my great-great-great grandfather, a boilermaker by trade.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
The bridge to cross the Murray was cast in England for assembly (not surprisingly) at Murray Bridge. It arrived with one broken pylon. A replacement pylon was cast at the foundry of James Hooker, in Hindly St, Adelaide. Hooker's foundry relocated to Kilburn, and was named the Lion Foundry, where the Algebuckena bridge was cast and fabricated. I guess that it is likely that the pattern used to make the replacement pylon (likely the original broken pylon) was used again for the Algebuckina bridge - hence the similarity.

James Hooker was my great-great-great grandfather, a boilermaker by trade.
allan

That's a great story - it also explains the similarities between the old bridge and Algebuckina.

Did Lion Foundry become McKetchnie or Bradken I wonder?
  allan Chief Commissioner

Did Lion Foundry become McKetchnie or Bradken I wonder?
don_dunstan

I really don't know. James Hooker's son moved to WA, while each of his daughters married managers at the foundry. His second wife long survived him.

A correction, too. The Lion Foundry was at Kilkenny, not Kilburn.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
If you zoom in on Google Earth/Maps, you can see what appears to be the formation for the surface level line that predated the bridge.

  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
The old alignment appears to follow the Oodnadatta track doesn't it - the part immediately across the ford that is.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
It's also interesting to follow the line on Google maps to see the other causeways/bridges.  There's an interesting looking 5 or 6 pylon bridge with the spans removed at Peake Creek for instance.
  steve_w_1990 Junior Train Controller

Location: Trying to fix something on the PTA Network
There was a film made by Film Australia (now Screen Australia) called "The Ghan to Alice". (It was part of a series of short films on a video tape called "Just Australian Trains") it showed the train crossing the bridge, there is even about 3 or 4 seconds of footage of the drivers view going across the bridge. I've tried looking for the film on youtube, but with no success.

There was also a part of a Documentry called "Tracks and Trains of Australia" made by the ABC which followed the last narrow gauge Ghan to Alice Springs, it also shows the train crossing the bridge.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
YM - assuming that you were the photographer - was that train stationary?, as in both photos it seems to be at the same spot.

Edit - hard to believe that 34 years have passed since the line was closed. Imagine how popular it would be if it were still operating today with the exposure of the Internet, YouTube etc.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
The film that MikeSyd linked is also interesting, I've seen it before on TV but it's really cool particularly if you don't know any of the history of the line.

I'm not sure if I agree with you, Mike, about the popularity of the service - there's heaps of 'authentic' tourism operators around the country already. And any tourist operation would also be really vulnerable to being flooded away every few years just like the old line was!
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
YM - assuming that you were the photographer - was that train stationary?, as in both photos it seems to be at the same spot.

Edit - hard to believe that 34 years have passed since the line was closed. Imagine how popular it would be if it were still operating today with the exposure of the Internet, YouTube etc.
mikesyd

Yes the train was stationary - (one of the 'perqs' of office!)Smile
Taken on 35mm slide which, sadly, has not survived the intervening 40 odd years as well as it might have.
Agree about the NG but everything has a life and death I suppose. I still think back fondly to the time I spent with CR, AN and National Rail although tinged with sadness as to what might have been but for our pig ignorant and short sighted (or worse) politicians.Crying or Very sad
Nevertheless, I am proud to have served the Australian community for so long with all three great organisations whilst under government ownership when honesty, service and integrity counted.

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