The Wonnangatta Station Mystery that I Hadn't Heard About

Submitted: Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 08:49
ThreadID: 133793 Views:4069 Replies:6 FollowUps:6
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After recently experiencing as close to Bulldust on the Pinnacle, Moroka and Howitt Plain roads as you would experience anywhere in the Outback (top dressing and Grader work) we went down the Zeka Spur and camped near Dry River.
A short walk east the following morning brought us to a suspension bridge which was a mystery to us.
Firstly, the southern support was attached to a large long dead tree with wrought iron bridge fittings that go right back and fencing wire. Secondly, with the rusting steel wire there was stainless wire used which suggests some modern repairs.
Perhaps used in flood by Barclay to get to Talbotville? now used by Deer Stalkers?
Very hard to find info relating to this well hidden piece of history.
I'm very interested in VHC history so any clues on this one?


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Reply By: Ron A - Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 14:13

Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 14:13
If you can get hold of Rob Christie he would be able to help you with a lot of the history in the area. He has written several books on the Region.

Here is a link to one of them Dargo, Crooked River History

You could possibly find Rob through Brian Madigan who frequents the Dargo Hotel every night from about 6 to 8. Brian would also have quite an extensive knowledge of the area. He may have been involved with the modern repairs.
AnswerID: 606012

Follow Up By: dad1340 - Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 17:22

Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 17:22
Thanks Ron,
At Dargo there was a couple of old guys at the bar (younger than me :) when we went into the Pub for dinner but I unfortunately missed out talking to them, Brian may have been one.
I've got a fair collection of info on the history of the place but still no reference to the saidSuspension Bridge.

The Mystery is one of many, de-capitation why? to who would set up a run in such an isolated place? Supply meat to Talbotville? the gold would never run out right?

Thanks for your help Ron.

FollowupID: 875768

Follow Up By: Ron A - Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 19:15

Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 19:15
Fair chance he was there dad. The Publican sets his watch to Brian's arrival.

Lot of history and mystery in the area.
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Reply By: carl h2 - Sunday, Nov 20, 2016 at 16:22

Sunday, Nov 20, 2016 at 16:22
Hi Dad you might try Ian Stapleton he has written some books about the High Country From Mt Fraser's To Freezeout and WeatherBeaten Wisdom. He lives in Harrietville vic.
AnswerID: 606030

Reply By: Member - TonyV - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:20

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:20

Can you pin point on the attached picture where about the bridge is?

Cairns FNQ.

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AnswerID: 606093

Follow Up By: dad1340 - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 18:26

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 18:26
Hi Tony, I've checked the location myself on G/Maps and you have the precise area.
Referring to the map: Coming from Zeka Spur across Dry River, the first track on the left (clearly seen) takes you to a big open flat (as seen) with 3 campsites in the trees near the river. You can see the track going in, turning right and follows parallel to the river then comes out.
First camp as you drive in is in the left corner (not visible on map)
Second camp is in the centre (just visible)
Third camp is in the right corner (clearly visible)

Walk through the second or centre camp towards the Wonnangatta River and turn left.

The Suspension Bridge is about 25m along.

It's an Historical Pot of gold that so far its history eludes us.
I'm awaiting for a couple of calls and there is a 'few irons in the fire'


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Follow Up By: Member - TonyV - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:00

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:00
I will drop a line to Tim Bates who hails from Mornington, but spends much of his time in the High Country.

Tim has many contacts in the area. Tim Bates web site

You may enjoy his Post Cards Series


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Follow Up By: dad1340 - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:36

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:36
Great video Tony,

Pre-Wonnangatta I got stuck into researching the "Murders" with all the info I could find and found a mixture of hear-say and unrealistic theories. As Stoney said, "The mountains hide their secrets well"

I'm convinced only that someone other than the murderer/murderers knew at the time. As time went by, so did the knowledge. After all, it's not a story you would pass down to your grandkids.

"The Secret Wonnangatta Suspension Bridge Mystery" ;) will be somewhat easier.


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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:37

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:37
It's part of the Bicentennial walking trail that goes from Warburton to Cooktown.

AnswerID: 606107

Reply By: dad1340 - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 20:04

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 20:04

Member BooBook the Tvan Man has informed us that its part of the Bi-centenial Walking trail from Warburton to Cooktown.
Thanks are extended Boo.

That answer is amazing given the bridge contains very old hardware including wrought iron spreader brackets? It's also attached to a long dead tree?

I'm not doubting this is the answer but seeing the age of this construction first hand leaves me thinking it does not look like a pedestrian bridge made in 1988?

The Stainless wire rope repairs is fairly recent.

Maybe the original bridge goes further back?

Does the Mystery hold?



AnswerID: 606109

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 06:22

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 06:22
Yes I think it does hold Dad

As you say, I guess the repairs were part of the trail. To the SE the trail goes up Dry River track, That was a 4wd track about 30 years ago but is now closed and just a walking track. To the North the track goes up and over a location known as Wombat Gap then down to Riley Creek. It may have been a way to Beverage Station and the Buckland Valley / Bright or Dandongadale.

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Reply By: dad1340 - Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 09:32

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 09:32
I think it would be reasonable to assume 'The Mystery of the Wonnangatta Station Suspension Footbridge' remains (subject to further advice or carbon dating bridge components ;)

As BooBook advised it was used as part of the 1988 Bicentennial Walk. Shown crossing the Wonnangatta erroneously to the east of its actual location. A minor map inaccuracy.

Further to the 'much older than 1988 theory, the dead Gum tree that the original steel rope was attached to on the southern side would have been a stout tree in Barclays day. About 1.8 - 2.0m at the base. Whilst the tree had grown well over the rope at the rear and sides, it was clear of the trunk at the front. Gums can survive this partial ringbarking as we have seen many times.
It's remaining trunk after a tearing break approximately 15m up mid-section also had signs of substantial fire burns. We didn't notice any fire signs on any of the larger Gums in the area. This is far from a solid pointer to its age in relation to the bridge but another clue that we may consider.
Why would you tie on to a dead tree?
Another question is if Barclay or others built the original it is only a pedestrian bridge. He travelled to Talbotville occasionally selling Beef on horseback. Floods go down.
One suggestion was that gold was found in the nearby valley but why would you not use a horse? Security during flood times?

I'll put the pipe and Deerstalkers hat away for now and await for forthcoming info.



AnswerID: 606130

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