01 March 2011

Donovan's Road bridge, Healesville, VIC, Australia

Donovan's Road is a small side road west of Healesville township, off the main Healesville-Yarra Glen Road.  In fact, I think its official name is "Donovans Road", but I love correct apostrophes a bit too much for that.  It is a pretty short affair, winding its unsealed way between paddocks to a railway line, ending not long after crossing the tracks.  It would be wholly unremarkable if it weren't for one thing: its condemned bridge.

The bridge (and RM 22) as seen from the level crossing.
I'm honestly surprised a bridge was ever built here, since the branch railway to Healesville was constructed in the 19th century, in an era well before massive traffic backlogs behind boomgates and impatient twits speeding in front of trains led to cries of "zomg every road/rail crossing should be grade separated!!!!1!1" and the like.  Donovan's Road is pretty damn trivial, and the planners certainly couldn't be fucked bridging much more significant roads nearby.  And now that we're in this age of "grade separate EVERYTHING!!! and make the damn railways pay for it even though it's only of benefit to road users!!!11!11", the bridge has funnily enough been replaced by an at-grade level crossing.  Not that it's a big deal, since the Healesville branch last saw revenue trains in the 1980s and this section of track only sees a few weekend services run by the good folk at the Yarra Valley Tourist Railway (allow me this opportunity to give their fine restoration work a massive shout-out).

Although the bridge has been superseded, it is by no means gone.  It continues to loom above the railway line, blocked off from road traffic, condemned but nonetheless standing.  I admit I find decaying relics like this simply fascinating.  In its heyday, it would've been a pretty unremarkable bridge - small, of very basic construction, indistinguishable from hundreds of others around the state.  But now that it has fallen into disuse, the forces of nature have worn away at it and given it a rustic, decayed sort of charm with flaking paint, creaky boards, and even a couple of random weeds to drive home the point about its dereliction.

More photos of this and other disused Yarra Valley bridges here.
If more people had any reason to come out this way, I'd wonder if some bloody idiot drink-driving on their way home had ever mistakenly tried to cross the bridge.  It doesn't look like it could really withstand the weight of any decent-sized vehicle!  I certainly wouldn't try my luck, though you could probably get away with one of those Smart cars.  And honestly, even if you re-opened the bridge, it looks like it could go days without traffic anyway ...

Rating: Condemnable by default, since it actually is condemned.  If it weren't, it would not garner such a harsh rating.

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