© John Flatt 2015
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Jeffrey Johnson

Crossing

the

Moorabool River

at

Fyansford

was never easy......

Question...

Since the time of Captain Foster Fyans (1837)

how many different ways of crossing the Moorabool River at Fyansford have there been?

Answer... Six

1    Ford (1837-1854)

2   First wooden bridge (1854-1898)

3   Temporary wooden bridge (1899)

4   Monier concrete bridge (1899 - current)

5   Second concrete bridge (1900-Current)

6   Temporary wooden pedestrian bridge (1966)

1837

Captain Foster Fyans, Police Magistrate, first camped by the Moorabool river in an area later to be known as Fyans Ford. This was when the locality, 5 km west of Geelong, was first shown on maps.

1837-60      

The ford crossing the Moorabool River was critical in providing access to the south-west coast region of Victoria and as a watering hole for bullock teams carrying produce to and from the early settlers. 

The Moorabool River later formed the border between the Shires of Corio and Bannockburn. 

1842            

The Geelong Advertiser expressed the concern in 1842 that "unless something be speedily done towards the repair of this, the principal crossing place on the Great Western Road, a serious difficulty will be found to exist in bringing down the present clip of wool to market".

John Atkins, builder and owner of the nearby Swan Inn, subsequently upgraded the ford.

1846

A water colour by Charles Norton  shows ford across the Moorabool river at Fyans Ford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1847            

The Great Western Road, at the time little more than a  bullock track and only route from Geelong, continued, after crossing the ford, past the Swan Inn in a southerly direction and then on to the Inverleigh Road. As the ford provided a convenient crossing-place, the small settlement became an important stopping point for pastoralists and others travelling from Geelong to Ballarat or Hamilton.

1850’s         

The ford continued to sustain heavy use during the gold rush.

1854            

The first bridge, of wooden construction, was built across the Moorabool several hundred metres downstream from the ford by the Corio and Bannockburn Shire councils. The bridge was tolled until 1877.

1854-55      

Two more hotels, the Fyans Ford Hotel and the Balmoral were erected on the opposite side of the Moorabool River to the Swan Inn and closer to the junction of Barwon and Moorabool Rivers. Being located on one of the two routes between Geelong and Ballarat ensured the success of Fyans Ford’s three hotels.

1898            

Load restrictions on the timber bridge, which had deteriorated significantly, were introduced. Subsequently, in order for construction of a new concrete bridge to proceed, it was necessary to demolish the old bridge. 

 

A National Library of Australia TROVE Insight…

The Geelong Advertiser, December 12, 1898

“Separate tenders having been invited for the erection of a temporary wooden bridge, 

for which the engineers' estimate was £200…”

 

1899         

The temporary bridge, of timber construction, was completed downstream from the site on which the Monier bridge was being built. Though the original old bridge had been demolished, and while work proceeded on the construction of the new bridge, the Corio Shire engineer of the time warned in the Geelong Advertiser that those crossing the temporary bridge with loads greater than two tons did so at their own risk. Flooding on the Leigh and Upper Barwon gave rise to fears both the temporary bridge and the partially-constructed Monier bridge could be at risk. As it turned out, a mere couple of weeks later, the temporary bridge was deemed ‘out of order’ due to flood damage.

The Fyansford 'Monier' Bridge was built by Melbourne consulting engineers, Monash & Anderson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A National Library of Australia TROVE Insight…

The Age (Melbourne) 24 May, 1899

“The old bridge has been dismantled, but, fortunately, the temporary bridge is completed….”

 

The Age (Melbourne), 24 June, 1899

“Intelligence was received to-day that big floods were coming down the Leigh and Barwon rivers.

If the volume of water should dam back the Moorabool where it joins the Barwon near Fyansford, 

the temporary bridge will be imperiled, and the new bridge in course of construction will be damaged….”

The Age (Melbourne), 12 August, 1899

“The flood in the Barwon receded considerably, but the temporary bridge at Fyansford is still a foot under water…” 

 

1900            

The three-arch reinforced concrete construction was completed by John Monash and J. T. N. Anderson. At that time it was the largest Monier bridge in the world.

 

1966            

A timber pedestrian bridge was built alongside the concrete monier bridge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1970

Because of increased traffic flow on the Hamilton Highway a new bridge was built (on the site of the original wooden bridge) . Though the new bridge was similar to the earlier Monier bridge, being made from reinforced concrete, it involved precast girders rather than arches. The 1900 Monier bridge was retained for pedestrian use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

The 1970 Fyansford Bridge is still in use carrying pedestrian and vehicular traffic with the historic monier bridge still standing proudly alongside the new bridge.

Fyansford township 1890

Detail from 1854 Pencil drawing by ST Gill

Source:

Peter Begg, Geelong Advertiser June 10, 2019

 
 

Primary resources:

 

     Tenders were called in December, 1898, for the construction of a temporary bridge in preparation for the building of a concrete replacement for the original timber bridge which crossed the Moorabool in Fyansford. This timber bridge which had been in operation since 1854 was fast falling into disrepair.

 

    

 

 

    

By early May, 1899, work was finished on this somewhat flimsy-looking and temporary structure which had been located downstream from the site on which the new Monier bridge was being constructed. The original bridge had been demolished by the end of May. Even so the Corio Shire engineer warned in the Geelong Advertiser  that anyone crossing the bridge with loads in excess of two tons did so at their own risk.

     With the temporary bridge open to traffic and work on the new Monier bridge under way “with the abutments almost complete by the end of June, this despite flooding on the Leigh and Upper Barwon which it was feared would damage both the temporary bridge and the partially-constructed Monier bridge” (Jo Mitchell). By August, 1899, the temporary and now disused bridge was under floodwater. Come December the new bridge was all but complete….

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Fyansford Bridge, Geelong Ca 1900 Imag

"This view shows the casting of the central span and shows only the central span (top of pier and springing of one side span visible on left hand side). Unidentified workers are posed on the barrow run. Some have grounded their barrows. Historical Note: John Monash ran a successful engineering business from 1894 to 1914, while pursuing a parallel career in the Citizen Military Forces. Initially in partnership with J.T.N. Anderson until 1904, the Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Ltd was founded by Monash in Melbourne in 1905 and pioneered reinforced concrete construction in Victoria. The company produced many buildings, bridges, water-tanks and silos using this type of construction in Victoria and South Australia.
Inscription: Inscriptions on verso: "Half width of bridge being concreted, working from springing towards crown, 16/8/1899" & "Fyansford Bridge - Geelong showing Southern half of 60' arches completed and central arch 2/3d completed. Taken Aug 16/1899 at 1.30 p.m." 

Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Pty Ltd

"This photograph shows the Fyansford Bridge during construction. An unidentified man stands on top of the middle arch. Historical Note: John Monash ran a successful engineering business from 1894 to 1914, while pursuing a parallel career in the Citizen Military Forces. Initially in partnership with J.T.N. Anderson until 1904, the Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Ltd was founded by Monash in Melbourne in 1905 and pioneered reinforced concrete construction in Victoria. The company produced many buildings, bridges, water-tanks and silos using this type of construction in Victoria and South Australia.
Inscription: Written in pencil on verso: 'Fyansford Bridge, half width almost ready for concreting. Wreckage on ground is of former wooden bridge. Cement Works stack in background - 1899?' "

Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Pty Ltd

"The photograph is dated October 11th 1899 and shows all three spans (from the bank in front of the cement works?). The falsework has been removed from central span but is still under the side spans. The downstream spandrel wall is complete over the full length of the bridge. Some timber is stacked on the central span. A sole unidentified man can be seen under the bridge and a boat is moored at the bank. Historical Note: John Monash ran a successful engineering business from 1894 to 1914, while pursuing a parallel career in the Citizen Military Forces. Initially in partnership with J.T.N. Anderson until 1904, the Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Ltd was founded by Monash in Melbourne in 1905 and pioneered reinforced concrete construction in Victoria. The company produced many buildings, bridges, water-tanks and silos using this type of construction in Victoria and South Australia.

Inscription: Inscribed on the front: 'Fyansford, Oct 11th 1899'."

Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Pty Ltd

"This photograph shows the Fyansford Bridge during construction; the removal of falsework and formwork is nearly complete. Historical Note: John Monash ran a successful engineering business from 1894 to 1914, while pursuing a parallel career in the Citizen Military Forces. Initially in partnership with J.T.N. Anderson until 1904, the Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Ltd was founded by Monash in Melbourne in 1905 and pioneered reinforced concrete construction in Victoria. The company produced many buildings, bridges, water-tanks and silos using this type of construction in Victoria and South Australia."

Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Pty Ltd

"This photograph shows a very long shot from down river of the bridge just completed in 1900. In the background to the right can be seen buildings, including a chimney. A temporary timber bridge is in foreground. An unidentified girl is standing on the bridge. Historical Note: John Monash ran a successful engineering business from 1894 to 1914, while pursuing a parallel career in the Citizen Military Forces. Initially in partnership with J.T.N. Anderson until 1904, the Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Ltd was founded by Monash in Melbourne in 1905 and pioneered reinforced concrete construction in Victoria. The company produced many buildings, bridges, water-tanks and silos using this type of construction in Victoria and South Australia. Inscription: Written in pencil on verso: 'Fyanford bridge completed, and temporary bridge used during building of the concrete structure, 1900'."

Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co. Pty Ltd

Note:

Images and content sourced from University of Melbourne Archives.

These images are provided for research purposes and must not be reproduced without prior permission of University of Melbourne Archives. For information about ordering a copy of images contact the University of Melbourne Archives: archives@archives.unimelb.edu.au

Sir John Monash
Captain  Fyans
Like a little more detail?

Image: 

John and Victoria Monash with workmen at the Fyansford Bridge

from Leading the Way: Sir John Monash - The Engineer

 

Document: 

Fyansford Monier Arch Bridge ~ Heritage Recognition Ceremony

from Engineers Australia Ceremony Report

 

Fyansford Bridge in 1910 Tom Roberts 

from Fyansford Monier Arch Bridge

 

Fyansford Monier Bridge Inscription (13/9/13)

from Engineering Heritage Marker-Fyansford Monier Arch Bridge

A Pioneer of the Monier Concrete Arch Construction Method

PDF from Engineers Australia Engineering Heritage Victoria

Monier bridge under construction.
Image held by  University of Melbourne

"... The Monier system of construction was patented in 1867 by Joseph Monier, a French manufacturer of garden ware. He manufactured planter pots made of coarse mortar reinforced with a grid of small-diameter iron bars. The technique and patents were gradually extended to cover, amongst other things, arch bridges. .... Early in November, Anderson told Taylor he could build a Monier bridge for "about £3850" plus an allowance for contingencies. He argued that it would last indefinitely and in the long run be more economic than an initially cheaper timber bridge. .... On 16th February amidst much public and official interest, the bridge was tested by heavily-loaded horse-drawn wagons and the Council steam roller....."

Source: Fyansfor Monier Arch Bridge

Press clippings from back then...

 

The Argus  - Melbourne (Sat 1 Sep 1934)

     Eighty years ago (1854) The new bridge over Fyan's Ford is to be opened…

The Argus - Melbourne (Tue 5 Sep 1854)  

     From our own correspondent The Opening of Fyansford Bridge  

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer (Wed 3 Jan 1855 )

     The opening of the Fyans Ford Bridge has materially relieved the inconvenience ….

Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929)  Sat 3 Dec 1898 

     Tenders called

The Age (Melbourne, (Sat 24 Jun 1899)

     Leigh and Barwon Rivers flooded

Geelong Advertiser Tue 13 Jun 1899)

     FYANSFORD BRIDGE. TO THE EDITOR

Geelong Advertiser (Mon 9 Jan 1899)

     FYANSFORD BRIDGE. TO THE EDITOR

Geelong Advertiser (Sat 11 Feb 1899)

     FYANSFORD BRIDGE. TO THE EDITOR

The Age (Sat 12 Aug 1899)

     The Barwon Valley

 

Crossing the Moorabool at Fyansford

The original Fyans' ford

 

Click first image to see at full size

An Aboriginal tribe, the Wathaurong, were the earliest inhabitants of the area surrounding the confluence of the Moorabool and Barwon rivers. It was they who first used the shallow crossing a short distance up the Moorabool from the Barwon. Jo Mitchell in her 2016, blog Fyans' Ford, describes how at various times of the year, the Wathaurong “used the rocky bed of the ana-branch between the Barwon and the Moorabool Rivers as an eel trap”; their name for the area adjoining the junction of the rivers being ‘Bukar Bulac’ (place between two rivers). For subsequent European settlers this shallow section of the Moorabool was a natural crossing point en-route between Geelong and the Western district.

 

In her blog “Four bridges and a ford: the ford”, Jo Mitchell succinctly details the importance of the ford to the development of Fyansford.

 

“In the earliest days of European settlement, the new arrivals often made use of the tracks and fords used by the indigenous population so it is not surprising that Captain Foster Fyans - recognising it as a key location - chose this place to make camp upon his arrival in the district in 1837 to take up the role of police magistrate….

Then, as European settlement spread out across the Moorabool to the west, traffic on the Great Western Road (later the Lower Western Road and now the Hamilton Highway), increased. As the squatters expanded their flocks, dray-loads of wool needed to be carted to the port at Geelong. To aid the passage of these drays and the path of other travellers, the ford was reinforced with earth and rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1846 watercolour and gouache on cream paper by Charles Norton, looking upriver across Fyans' Ford.

Image held by the State Library of Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1847 watercolour and pencil on cream paper by Charles Norton, looking upriver across Fyans' Ford.

Image held by the State Library of Victoria

 

“To this end, in 1842 Mr John Atkins with his business partner Robert Nalder Clarke built an inn on the west bank of the Moorabool and was offering to make a substantial contribution towards upgrading the ford if other locals were prepared to contribute as well. Atkins' inn - originally known as the Fyanstown or Fyans Ford Inn and later as the Swan Inn/Hotel - was well situated to take advantage of the passing trade crossing the ford before following the track south to the current line of road as the sketch below shows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1847 View of Fyan's Ford on the 'Marabool', showing both the ford and the Swan Inn.

Image held by the State Library of Victoria

 

“It also gives a good idea of where the ford was actually located, namely around 350m upstream of the current bridge. This is confirmed by the 1861 geological survey map - Quarter Sheet 24SE Geelong - produced by surveyor Richard Daintree…..
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1857 Tingle, J. engraver

Image held by the State Library of Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1859 Fyans Ford photographic print mounted on cardboard by Thomas Hannay

Image held by the State Library of Victoria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1860 Fyans Ford and Swan Hotel print : wood engraving by Samuel Calvert.

Image held by the State Library of Victoria

 

“… I recently went for a wander along this section of the river to get an idea of where the ford was and what it looks like today. There is no obvious sign of where it was located and whilst it is quite shallow along this stretch, it is worth remembering that in the 1840s, the upper reaches of the Moorabool had not been dammed as they have today, so water levels may have been different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Approximate location of the ford (Photos by Jo Mitchell)

 

In 1842 when Atkins and Clarke selected the site for their inn, they chose a prime position by the track to the ford. Whilst all trace of the ford may long-since have gone, John Atkins' Swan Inn still stood; derelict but intact; until the evening of 22nd April, 2016, when a fire gutted the main building. More recently, renovations / rebuildings have been undertaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 The Swan Inn (Jo Mitchell)

 

 

Press Clippings 

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