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The Semi-Retired Foamer has been a railfan since he was around 5 years old, a very young age when one really should avoid being involved with the gunzel community to any great extent.
After a few decades of train chasing one decided to break with protocol and get married, thus leading to a severe cut in railfan activity.
Subsequent dealings with social misfits, loonatics, mental defectives and self appointed experts lead to an even greater decrease in my hobby participation.
However things have changed thanks our small group of trusted mate, interest has returned, and now I have become a bit more involved yet again. Having learnt to laugh, with others, at all the more 'Moronic Foamers'.
.Oh the irony that lays behind that term.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

River Depot (Bli Bli, Queensland)


It was during a visit to the ex-fiancees parents in Redcliffe during 1993 that I first ventured north to explore a little of Queensland. Till this time I had never really looked at our northern state as a serious prospect for photography and had often laughed at suggestions.
A quick venture to Petrie station was had on our first night there, good timing providing a cross of two 1460s and a single 3900 on their respective freight trains, lead to an urge to see more that has continued to this day.

Two days later we were to head to Nambour. I had seen maps in the past showing a cane tramway running down the main street, but I wasn't even certain whether or not this was still there. Indeed as QR was my main goal I really didn't care one way or the other.

Coming over the hill on the final approach to Nambour I first saw the chimney of the Moreton Mill, for so long a icon of Nambour and something I was to see yearly from that moment on. It was a sight taken so much for granted, but the greatest blow upon my first return after the demolition of the mill.
It is indeed unfortunate that I cannot remember which loco was coming down Howard Street when I arrived this first time. I would like to think it was my old mate BLI BLI, but this was the first day of a new obsession, an obsession that was to forever link me to this mill even now, four years after closure.

The Moreton Mill system had many wonderful locations, but none more so, for me anyway, that the River Depot. This was a major junction for lines to the north of the Maroochy River, out through Dunethin Rock and also the Horse line which headed in an easterly direction.

The location also had a crossing loop, a balloon (mostly covered in dirt during my time there) and one of two amazing timber lift bridges that graced the system (the other removed some years ago).

Alongside the line, on the banks of the lovely Maroochy River, was a building with two rooms, one was for drying of locomotive sand, the other, until human vermin set fire to it, was often used as a dinner room for crews.

Not surprisingly it is where I chose to base myself a lot of the time and it was also the location of a 'LocoShed' organised farewell BBQ in 2003, the final year of sugarcane crushing in Nambour.
It was a peaceful place and an ideal location to get into deep thought before the next train arrived.

The fact I have returned to Nambour yearly since the closure may seem a little sad, however it has given my opportunity to photograph much of the removal and the process of nature taking back that which was once hers. Making friends with the employees there also helped in saving some unwanted souveniers that would otherwise been destroyed.

So what of River Depot today?

I last visited in 2006 and found all the tracks removed, excepting the section over the bridge and the still mostly covered balloon loop. Apart for these two reminders, a person new to the area could be forgiven for never realising how busy this now overgrown area once was. Like many cane railways, the lack of major earthworks means that hints of their existence fast disappears.

The building, which can be seen in one of the pictures above, had been destroyed and its corpse was laying in a pile nearby.

There was much bitching about responsibility for preservation of the wonderful timber bridge spanning the Maroochy River. Many, especially users of the waterway, wished for it to be demolished and removed.

Thankfully the bridge still stands, however it has had much removed from it after the lifting span fell near swimming kids a couple of years back (there was some reports at the time that a person was acting suspiciously around the top of the bridge just prior to the event). Now the span has been securely tied to the top of the structure, with the concrete counter weights now gone. The deck where the bridge winding gear was located has now been removed, as has the ladders that lead up top to a lovely view.

Some would now argue that at least it is preserved, despite much of it having been removed due to the actions of societies inconsiderate, however knowing what it once was, and what it has become, leaves a rather empty feeling inside. No, actually its more a feeling of disgust in peoples disinterest in such a historic structure.
No doubt one day it will be wiped from the face of the earth.

As time progresses the Moreton Mill topic will return regularly to this blog. Keep checking back.

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