10 November, 2011

Branching out - the viaduct

The Moorabool Viaduct
Due to the apparent success of my two previous blog posts, I thought I would continue with my Moorabool theme for a while longer yet. Apart from providing some fresh material for  my posts, the water from the Moorabool does after all, end up in the Barwon.
Yesterday, in addition to my wander along the river, I visited a location where I couldn't actually see the Moorabool. I could however, see the tree-lined course it followed and I could most certainly see the impressive historical structure which carries rolling stock across the river.
This of course is the Moorabool Viaduct - a ten span, bluestone and steel structure built as part of the Geelong to Ballarat train line which opened in April, 1862. Designed by the civil engineer George Christian Darbyshire, it measures 442 metres in length and spans the Moorabool Valley near the small township of Moorabool. The line - also designed by Darbyshire - was originally opened to provide transport for both freight and passengers to and from the goldfields of Ballarat and was also the only rail route between Melbourne and Ballarat until a direct line was opened in 1889.
Bluestone Bridge Road, Lovely Banks
In 1918, the viaduct underwent substantial strengthening works, being rebuilt with steel under the supervision of civil engineer Frederick Esling and I believe has recently undergone further minor strengthening works to allow for the re-laying of a second - standard gauge - line running initially as far as Moorabool Station, with the intention of extending to Geringhap.
In addition to the viaduct, there are some ten smaller bluestone bridges which span various roads and watercourses along the line, including the double-arched bridge over the unsurprisingly named Bluestone Bridge Road and Cowies Creek, in Lovely Banks. Like these bridges which utilised locally quarried stone, the original station buildings which line the route are also constructed from bluestone. However, with no passenger trains using the route they are now in private ownership.

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