Western Australia Looks After Its Historic Railway Bridges

Western Australia Looks After Its Historic Railway Bridges

Western Australia Minister for Environment and Heritage Albert Jacob

Restored Railway Bridges Open To Public

Victor P Taffa

  • Western Australia’s industrial heritage conserved
  • Rare steel engineering protected
  • $480,000 restoration project is a part of the Parks for People initiative

A three-month restoration project has given six historic railway bridges in John Forrest National Park a new lease on life.

The bridges, which once represented the latest technology in rail bridge construction, were fabricated 90 years ago in the former Midland railway workshops and were part of the Eastern Railway which linked Perth to the Goldfields and the Wheatbelt.

 

Since the railway line’s closure in 1961, they have been a significant feature of the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail – a popular walking and cycle trail through the park.

Environment and Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said the bridges were a popular visitor attraction within Western Australia’s oldest national park.

“I am delighted the bridges have been restored, allowing safe public access while conserving a significant part of WA’s industrial heritage.” Mr. Jacob said.

The restoration project, undertaken in consultation with the State Heritage Office, required an innovative approach because the bridges’ wooden decks had rotted and new timber dimensions were no longer commercially available.

“The Department of Parks and Wildlife replaced them with special precast concrete decks containing an imprint of the original timber decking as an interpretive link to the bridges’ past.” the Minister said.

Importantly, the bridges’ original steel-riveted structures are now protected from corrosion. They are a rare example of this kind of engineering, with only one other in WA.

“Water was a major threat to the steel girders which are irreplaceable.” Mr. Jacob said.

“Water diversion was incorporated into the restoration to ensure the girders receive the best protection possible.”

Fact File

  • This $480,000 project is part of a $1 Million State Government commitment to improve visitor facilities in John Forrest National Park under the Parks for People initiative
  • The park also has a 340-metre railway tunnel for visitors to explore
  • All of the park’s bridges were included on the Register of Heritage Places in 2003 as a permanent entry