Blown Sky High

Western Queensland Road Trip #9Β 

To open up the far western districts of Queensland, the state government constructed a new railway line between Roma and Cunnamulla in the 1890s. The bridge over Angellala Creek, south of Charleville, was an amazing feat of outback engineering. It consisted of seven vast steel spans totalling 630 metres in length, and the timber trestles approaching either end were the longest in the state.

With the advent of heavier locomotives the bridge was reinforced in 1946 and again in 1994. In 1992 it was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register because of its historic and cultural significance. The bridge continued in service well into the 21st century.

That was until the night of 5th September, 2014.

Just before 10pm a truck carrying a load of ammonium nitrate crashed and exploded on the road bridge on the Mitchell Highway over Angellala Creek, destroying both it and the historic Angellala Creek Bridge nearby.

A new road bridge was completed the following year, but the railway bridge has never been repaired.

The six cast iron piers which once supported the bridge now keep watch over the site, commemorating the event and the first responders who risked their lives to help others.

During Queensland’s celebrations of the Centenary of ANZAC 2014-2018, the new road bridge was named Heroes Bridge, drawing comparisons between those who served that night and the spirit of the ANZACS who served our country a century ago.

It seems the perfect way to remember those who toiled to bring much needed transport routes to the outback as well.

48 thoughts on “Blown Sky High

  1. That’s a pretty amazing history for somewhere in the middle of nowhere….. And I agree completely with you Carol – a very fitting name for the new bridge. It is amazing what our early pioneers constructed without any of the modern technology we rely on now and first responders are our often unsung and unacknowledged heroes today.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great hisory. Sorry it was lost, but so amazed that no lives were lost. The 6 cast iron piers seem like an apprpriate tribute. So difficult to repair and maintain roads and bridges in remote areas. Australia does a wonderful job. Thanks for showing another interesting part of history.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never cease to be amazed at the engineering skills of folk 100+ years back when they didn’t have the power tools available today, nor the precise measuring equipment. Great story Carol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is a lesson learned the hard way – more than 50 tons of Ammonium Nitrate on a vehicle. Add a crash, burning fuel – and there’s a recipe for disaster. Sad especially for those who came to help.

    I found a video reconstruction put out by the Queensland Government:

    Like

  5. Enjoyed your documentation and photos of this part of Australia’s history. What a shame the bridge was never repaired after the crash.

    My father worked on the roads when he first arrived in Australia in the early 1950s – he didn’t speak English. It must of been so hard back then building roads by hand but in the 1890s, it would have been much harder.

    Liked by 1 person

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