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Locals turn out to celebrate reconstruction of historic track bridges

15/03/2010

The official opening on Saturday of two newly reconstructed bridges on the historic Warners Track in the Central Highlands was attended by an enthusiastic crowd of more than 100 people who made the hour or more walk into the site from either Pine Valley or Jackeys Marsh.


The reconstruction of the bridges was a partnership between the Mountain Huts Preservation Society and Parks and Wildlife Service. The opening celebrated the completion of the reconstruction of two bridges crossing Burnies Creek over a period of two-and-a-half years.


Warners Track traces its origins back to the late 1800s when it provided the main access for moving stock from Deloraine, through Jackeys Marsh to the Midlands and on to Hobart and West Coast. It was also the main stock route for moving sheep and cattle to the Central Highlands for summer grazing. The bridges washed away in 1997.


While track maintenance isn’t the usual focus for the Mountain Huts Preservation Society, the group recognised that the track was integral to the cultural heritage of the high country and were keen to ensure its preservation. In rebuilding the two bridges the PWS arranged for the engineer’s design and supply of materials, including three 12-metre steel spans, to the remote site. The MHPS supplied all the labour, including the hand-split bridge decking. A total of 15 working bees, totalling 528 volunteer hours, were required to complete the project.


Mountain Huts Preservation Society president Roger Nutting told the crowd gathered at the major bridge for the opening that the day was ‘a very, very special occasion’.


“In the early years we had a rocky relationship with the Parks and Wildlife Service, and I’m pleased to say that that’s no longer the case, in fact here we are today, building bridges,” Mr Nutting said.


“We wanted to rebuild the bridges in a manner sympathetic to the character of the mountains and that’s what has been achieved,” he said. “It’s got the look that we aimed for, but with the integrity to last for a long, long time.”


Parks and Wildlife Service Parks and Reserves manager Chris Emms, said the reconstruction of the two bridges was achieved through a collaborative working arrangement between the PWS and the MHPS.


He also noted that the higher than expected number of people attending the event demonstrates the strong community support and interest in these sorts of conservation projects.


“This is also an opportunity to reflect on the tremendous commitment, generosity and craftsmanship of the members of the MHPS involved in the project,” Mr Emms said.


“Supporting volunteering has become a major part of our core business and the contribution that volunteers can make in assisting PWS with the ongoing management of reserves is enormous. For several years PWS has focused on establishing partnership agreements with community groups that have demonstrated an ongoing and long term commitment to the conservation of natural and cultural values within reserves.


“A new partnership agreement was entered into last year which outlines more than 10 projects to be undertaken over the next five years. These involve the preservation, restoration and interpretation of heritage hut sites within the Central Plateau. The completion of these bridges is significant in that it is the first major project completed as part of this new partnership.”

Locals turn out to celebrate reconstruction of historic track bridges

PWS general manager Peter Mooney with Meander Valley resident, Gray Johnston at the official opening of the Warners Track bridges.

Locals turn out to celebrate reconstruction of historic track bridges

Gray Johnston had the honour of cutting the ribbon to open the bridge, with Mountain Huts Preservation Society president Roger Nutting (centre) and Chris Emms.

Locals turn out to celebrate reconstruction of historic track bridges

Northern Region staff made it a family day at the official opening of the Warners Track bridges. Pictured are young ranger-in-training Corren Buck with father Rob Buck and mum, Linda Overend.

Locals turn out to celebrate reconstruction of historic track bridges

The bridge is built to modern engineering standards, but has the look of a traditional timber bridge.