22 September, 2011

Can't go over it, can't go under it, can't go round it...

About a week ago I headed off to explore a section of the Barwon I had previously only seen at a distance - the aqueduct. As I described in a previous post, the ovoid sewer aqueduct over the Barwon is a concrete truss construction built between 1913 and 1916 to carry waste from Geelong to Black Rock where it emptied into the sea.
Ovoid sewer aqueduct over the Barwon River
The aqueduct was in use until 1993 when it was replaced by a new sewer main running under the river which operates via a pump-boosted gravity system, providing a cost-effective and technologically innovative solution to Geelong's sewage needs. A more detailed description of the new system can be found on the following page: A Boost For Geelong.
The aqueduct still stands as an historic monument, mostly hidden from public view, but still accessible if you know how. As the title of this blog suggests however, viewing is all that is currently possible. Whilst there is a walkway across the top of the pipe, the concrete of the structure is in such poor condition that it is unsafe to approach it. This has occurred due to the loss of calcium from the concrete of the structure which has rendered it brittle and crumbling. This means not only can it not be crossed, but it is not possible to pass under the structure either.
The aqueduct is heritage listed and is a spectacular example of early 20th century engineering in Australia, however its very poor state of repair means that no-one is currently prepared to foot the no doubt substantial bill for its restoration. It can only be hoped that with the proximity of the new Armstrong Creek development on the south side of the river, the aqueduct will be seen as a useful feature to be incorporated into the new development - perhaps in the form of a pedestrian crossing point in an extended Barwon River trail, leading down from Breakwater. For now however, this would seem to be nothing more than a...pipe dream!
In addition to visiting the aqueduct, we went for a wander down the track which is the end of Boundary Road. I hadn't been here before either. It is heavily rutted with rubbish dumped here and there to either side. At this time of year and with no recent rain, it was quite walkable, with only the very last approach to the river somewhat squishy, however this was mitigated by some conveniently laid planks.
"Greenbanks", Marshall
From here, there is a distant view of the aqueduct, but most notable is the historic homestead "Greenbanks" where I believe I stayed once or twice in my teens. Sited on the Marshall side of the river, this privately-owned property was originally the owner's home associated with the Braealy Brothers Australian Tannery complex, the ruins of which can be seen nearby.
Otherwise, there isn't a great deal to see on this part of the river. This is, after all, a flood plain, meaning that it is flat, wide and marshy. What I did notice however, is that the variety of bird life is somewhat different to other areas and I was able to spot a number of birds I hadn't seen  - see my bird page for updates. The new additions were Yellow-rumped Thornbills which I'd seen elsewhere but not along the river, White-faced Chats, a single Horsefield's Bronze Cuckoo, Black-shouldered Kites and more notable for their calls than their visibility - Little Grassbirds and Golden-headed Cisticolas. Hopefully I can continue to add to the tally.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoying your blog! You have covered a lot of the places and things that take my interest when I visit family in Geelong. I am particularly interested in the way you've woven historical sites into your posts. Having left Victoria 20 years ago I have become quite nostalgic and keen to explore all the nooks and crannies that are often passed by. Sometimes I write about it on my blog here. https://balandaeyes.blogspot.com.au/

    Nothing too detailed in my posts but your blog is inspiring me.