Crossover Wooden Bridge Restoration Project
A commitment has been made by Crossover locals to explore the feasibility of restoring the historic trestle bridge in their forest. Who is aware of this relic of the district's history? Who has driven along Bloomfield Road and sensed this hidden treasure among the tall trees?
This old timber bridge at Crossover was reportedly constructed in 1892 as part of the Warragul to Noojee rail link. In 1958 that rail line closed after decades of transporting timber, farm produce, local passengers and occasional tourists. This bridge is supported by six tall trestles and spans about forty metres of ferny cutting below.
Nearly all of the many trestle bridges along the line were destroyed by bush fires. Some rumoured that anxious road transporters possibly sabotaged these bridges. Nevertheless, the Crossover road bridge survived and is in original condition being the last of its kind left in Victoria. By contrast, the famous trestle bridge at Noojee has been renovated and maintained.
Since the rail closure, the Crossover bridge has been in gentle decline due to neglect and lack of maintenance. Many of the decking timbers are rotting, yet many of the uprights appear strong and stable. The bridge has considerable artistic, engineering and tourist merit. One fascinating aspect is the picket style safety railing. There is also the depth of the fern lined, steep cutting below, along which the trains laboured.
The bridge is understood to be an asset of Baw Baw Shire. It is listed with Heritage Victoria, and the National Estate , to historians it symbolises the development of early transport routes in West Gippsland. The design is said to typify construction methods and details found in many trestle road bridges of the day. All restoration work will be undertaken using the Australia ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), the peak body of professionals working in heritage conservation, guidelines. These are explained in the Burra Charter adopted as a revised document in November 1999 at the ICOMOS annual meeting.
The Rokeby and Crossover Friends Group has been aware since its inception of the potential and simple beauty of the structure. At a recent meeting of the Group a decision was made to pursue a restoration project. The Group will be seeking Shire advice, as well as potential sponsors and funding to upgrade the area and assist with replacing decking and railing. Any individual, building or timber firm which could also assist will be welcome to contribute to the project.
An 'open day' is planned to promote awareness of the bridge project. This will be an opportunity for those with historical, environmental and photographic interests to learn more about this charming relic.