It was great to see the Ross Bridge featured on ABC TV News, and with a feature article included in the ABC News Online ~
Ross Bridge needs protection plan to save unique stone carvings from flood damage, locals say
Damian McIntyre, 29 April 2018, ABC News Online
Dr Jennifer Bolton’s call for the Northern Midlands Council to act on a flood plan for the Ross Bridge was heeded by the Councillors last December (her statement to the Council is included below).
As the Tasmanian Government own the Ross Bridge the Council are calling on the Government to act on their responsibilities.
We are yet to hear what the Tasmanian Government will do about it.
The Tasmanian Government funded 2003 Ross Bridge Conservation Plan is extensive (see cover below), but does not include any consideration of flood protection.
This document was meant to be updated by 2013, so is overdue for a revamp.
The revamp could include a flood plan.
But action is urgently needed now, as the next flood could wipe out some of the Ross Bridge carvings, when logs come roaring down the Macquarie River.
When there is a flood, the road east of the Ross Bridge is closed, where a viaduct once ran for cars, buses and trucks.
When the road is closed in a flood, some form of temporary protection could be put over the carvings at the same time, which could be a heavy metal cage lowered over the front of the carvings in the path of the flood, or heavy rubber mats.
A long-term solution can be to divert floodwaters around the Ross Bridge.
Normally, the Macquarie River at Ross is a lazy trickle of water.
A weir down river raised the water level around the bridge, to improve the visuals.
On the aerial photograph below, I have included yellow dots to show where a levee could be located, to direct the flow of a flood around the Ross Bridge, and thus protect the carvings.
At Ross the Macquarie River flows from the south to the north.
I suggest that the levee should continue across the road to the north, to avoid any logs washing back against the northern face of the bridge.
There is evidence of flood damage on the northern face, where a piece of the sandstone has been knocked out.
Will the Premier and the Tasmanian Government act to save the carvings of the Ross Bridge?
Other needs of the Ross Bridge include ~
An interpretation installation of the Ross Bridge art, which could be located on Council owned land overlooking the bridge.
There is a need for a way for visitors, scholars and artists to be able to study the art of the Ross Bridge.
I have proposed that the old Ross Clinic, now vacant, which is owned by the Council, be dedicated to the study of the Ross Bridge Art, which can happen using 3D digital images owned by the Tasmanian Government (see flier below).
There is a need for a plan to develop heritage parklands and paths around the Ross Bridge, and along both sides of the Macquarie River, which would connect with the Convict Garden in Ross, where food was grown for the convicts in the Female Factory in Ross, and a path leads up to the Old Military Burial Ground, where Daniel Herbert’s grave can be seen.
Daniel Herbert is the carver of the Ross Bridge art, and the Old Military Burial Ground is like an Isle of the Dead on the hill.
I plan to call on a delegation of interested people to visit the Premier, and we will call on the Premier to visit Ross, to begin addressing all the needs of the Ross Bridge and surrounding heritage and environment.
At the Ross Bridge Festival in October (poster included below), we can hear reports on progress with the Council’s current application for National Heritage listing of the Ross Bridge.
There is no plan for Ross, which means that planning in Ross stumbles in the night of a planning vacuum.
Some really bad planning decisions have been made, which do great harm to the heritage values of Ross, degrading the economic potential and heritage qualities of the town.
The Council had Development Plans made for five towns in the Northern Midlands in 2012, but left Ross off the map.
I have repeatedly alerted the Tasmanian Government to the planning catastrophe in Ross, but the State Government takes a hands-off approach.
I wonder if we need a committee including community, Council and the Tasmanian Government, to fix the planning chaos in Ross, and make sure the Ross Bridge is protected and properly presented.
A plan for Ross needs to include heritage, business, environment, culture and community.
Ross is like a mini Port Arthur, but planning has gone a little potty in recent years.
I explored these matters in an article last February ~
Heritage and Flood Plans Needed at Ross
Kim Peart, 6 February 2018, Tasmanian Times
and many earlier articles.
Dr Jennifer Bolton’s address to the Northern Midlands Council meeting
11 December 2017, page 1629
Ross Bridge Flood Protection Plan
Dr Jennifer Bolton, Ross
Dr Bolton provided the following statement from which she read:
My purpose in speaking here tonight is to urge you to consider preparing a flood protection plan for the Ross Bridge.
When the Macquarie River is in flood, debris carried by the river impacts the bridge and causes damage.
During the most recent major flood event, a large sandstone block from one of the cutwaters on the southern side of the bridge was dislodged and fell into the river where it broke apart. I understand the Department of State Growth is organising the replacement of this stone.
The scale of this damage indicates the force with which tree trunks and other debris carried by floodwaters can strike the bridge.
Of particular concern is the risk to the unique carvings along all the arches for which the Ross Bridge is famous.
I urge the Council to collaborate with the Tasmanian State Government to develop a strategy to protect the Ross Bridge in times of flood.
One option would be to employ some form of debris control structure upstream from the bridge to capture large objects before they can do any damage. A design that does not detract from the heritage of the bridge or adversely impact the natural environment would need to be developed.
In 2003, the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources as it was then called, commissioned the preparation of a conservation plan for the Ross Bridge.
Perhaps surprisingly, this document only mentions in passing the risk of flood debris to the bridge and does not include a specific plan to deal with major flood events.
The authors of the conservation plan recommend that it be reviewed at least every ten years. As this document is now 14 years old it may be timely to encourage the State Government to commission an updated conservation plan for the Ross Bridge and ensure that a flood protection plan is included.
This is a situation where prevention is better than cure. It is much better to take measures now to prevent further flood damage than to have to keep making repairs and most crucially, to continue to place at risk the priceless artwork of the Ross Bridge.
I urge you to work with the State Government on this matter to secure the future of the Ross Bridge.
ABOUT Kim Peart ~ Born in 1952, Kim was raised in Howrah when it was farmland, played in the old fort in Bellerive, and rode the old ferries to Hobart to go to movies. Kim plied the life of a visual artist, with a studio in the Salamanca Arts Centre, and then in Murdunna, and later in Bellerive in the old bakery. In 2007 Kim was listed among Tasmania’s top 200 movers and shakers for “An urban bushland conservationist who has worked tirelessly over the years to maintain walking tracks and protect wildlife from the encroachment of bush-front housing developments.” Kim is campaigning for an Australian Convict Trail, with the Tasmanian leg running from the ferry in Devonport to Port Arthur, along with foot and cycle paths by Tasmania’s highways and roads. After being at the launch of an Australian Space Agency last September, Kim is seeking ways to create employment, careers and new enterprise in Tasmania with the global space industry. Kim now lives in Ross, with his wife Jennifer, and a small tribe of alpacas.
Authorised by: Jennifer Bolton, 39A Bridge St, Ross