The Weekly Review
comes out with Saturday's Geelong Advertiser
and often has some good reading before you get to the property pages. An article caught my attention - about Fyansford which is an area just out of Geelong and is mainly a meandering river and two bridges and of course the remains of the cement factory. Noel Murphy's article is well written and he provides lots of information. I've sketched there a few times, particularly of one of the bridges. I like his picture also - a bit photo-shopped no doubt.
Autumn’s burnished reds and yellows lie as prettily littered leaves atop the grey, stained concrete piers and triple arches of John Monash’s bridge at Fyansford.
For 114 years, the bridge has spanned the Moorabool River where it emerges from the old cement quarry, a serviceable chunk of infrastructure for the valuable and historic trade routes and social links to Geelong’s west.
Superseded more recently, it is a mute witness to dramatic changes unfolding in the area – an area named for colonial Australia’s ferocious “Flogger” Foster Fyans, the Norfolk Island commandant who became Geelong’s first police magistrate.
The pub across the road is changing, expanding, bringing dozens of pokies into an old colonial pub being prepped for the anticipated influx of 1000 houses and thousands more new arrivals when the Fyansford Green estate gets going.
It’s been a long time coming. It’s even longer since the old quarry was shut and sold, leaving a monumental clean-up job that has more or less stymied developers to date.
There’s a fair chance they’ll find more than a few fossils and scientific specimens along the way, like the quarry turned up for the past century and more; ancient whales’ teeth, shark teeth and the like.
Gone are the quarry’s giant chimneys, blasted to the ground – although one needed a nudge from an excavator in a remarkable stunt witnessed by hundreds of spectators.
Gone are the trucks and carts, pits and pumps, the kilns and pyrators, high-rise conveyors and offices that made up one of Geelong’s major employers for more than a century from 1890.
Gone also is a kilometre-plus stretch of the Moorabool that the quarry operator re-routed in the 1990s, to the fury of environmentalists.
Gone are the Puffing Billy-like steam-engine trains that Herne Hill 14-year-old Russell Rushton was allowed to drive after school, prompting jealous classmate/neighbour Philip Batty, also 14, to kill him – stabbing him more than 20 times – in 1966.
A massive manhunt failed to find Rushton. Six weeks later, three Morongo Girls’ College schoolgirls stumbled over his body on a cross-country exercise. Batty was sentenced to 10 years; he died last year.
Gone are the riggers who patched and painted the 120-metre-high chimneys and nearby cement silo precinct that alone survives, above Hyland Street, with its surrounding tunnels and concrete chambers designed as an escape route in case of explosions.
The bridge was one of the first reinforced concrete bridges built in Australia. It used a system developed by French horticulturalist Joseph Monier, who started by using wire mesh in his gardening pots. The technique was marketed by a German, Gustav Adolf Wayss, and used in the dugouts and bunkered pillboxes of his confrères in World War I from 1914-18.
Sir John Monash, with his engineer’s knowledge of the fortifications and their strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps the best tactical nous of any general in the conflict, changed the nature of the Allies’ warfare and fortunes, and blasted the Germans’ concrete battlements to smithereens. Monash and the tough Australians under his command are widely considered a force that hastened an end to the monumental horror of WWI.
It’s not exactly what you’d expect to find in an old pont that’s played second fiddle to another bridge since 1970. I guess the spray-can vandals who daub their handiwork around its base don’t know any of this.
It’s a pity … it kind of takes the shine off more than just autumn.