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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Reid's Mill Tramway Trail, Powelltown

Reid's Mill Tramway Trail follows an old timber tramway to the site of Reids Sawmill which was in use from 1920 to 1930. It starts on the Noojee Road, at the settlement of Powelltown, 85 km east of Melbourne.

The trail passes through magnificent tree ferns and tall mountain ash before entering dryer stringy bark forest. A few relics of the mill can still be seen at the end of the trail.

The return trip may be made via the steeper Big Bertha track. This is a shorter track, but much steeper. It finishes at the picnic area opposite the DSE offices just to the west of the town.

In the early 1900s, the area around Powelltown was opened up by a network of tramways which carried logs from the mountains of the Upper Yarra and LaTrobe Valleys to the Warburton railway.

he largest mill in the area, from which Powelltown takes its name, was operated by the Victorian Powell Wood Process Company. The company was formed in 1912 to exploit the new, and ultimately unsuccessful “Powell” method of wood preservation, which involved treating the timber with a mixture of molasses, water and arsenic.

The tramways kept close to creeks so they could maintain an even grade and there were many bridges. Sawn wooden rails were used on the earlier lighter lines, and in one place a tunnel cut though a hill. The forest trees were cut with axes and cross cut saws then winched on to the tramway with big steam winches set up beside the tracks. The tramlines declined in the 1930s depression. The 1939 bushfires devastated this area and meant sawmills were required to relocate to the edge of the forest. This, combined with increased truck traffic, caused the tramways’ demise. The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires again devastated this area.

I walked the Big Bertha (western) section of this track on February 4, 2008, starting and finishing at the interesting historical display at Powelltown.

I had previously walked the eastern section some months ago.

See the Photos!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob, i found your webpage a few weeks ago and thought as a training exercise i would do some of them. Did the "Reids Tramway" walk today but went the wrong way - went up Big Bertha's track, pretty hard slog but good for me. A few trees are now over the track but still easy to see. not a lot to see at the Mill site but still worth the walk. The walk back along the tramway was better than Big Bertha's. Loved the misty rain, singing birds, walking through the clouds and the smoke filled chimneys.