The Bloomfield River Crossing (‘The Crossing’) has a rather eventful history. My first recollection of the place was back in 1982, when I walked a trail that would one day be superseded by what is now known as ‘The Bloomfield Track’. It was a 2 day hike up the side of steep, rainforest covered slopes, over the ridge and down, to then cross crystal clear fresh water streams. The path would sometimes wind past mangrove clogged shorelines, and then rise again through the rainforest and eventually to ridges hundreds of metres above sea level, where She-Oaks commanded the land. I was ignorant in my teens, not knowing that I was walking a trail that in its original form had been traversed for thousands of years before me by the Yalanji Bama of the East Coast in our area. The trail itself had been dozed with a small D-6 Caterpillar many years before I did the journey, in an effort to allow cattle to be walked from the highlands behind Wujal Wujal to Cairns and the markets. So, in many places the track was overgrown and almost impassable. In places, the track would be reduced to a one person trail, leading through thickets of Wait-A-While and impossibly crowded stands of saplings that had invaded the narrow dozer path. I have no photos from my time up here back then, due to having a waterproof, instant 110 film cartridge camera stolen when I first headed to Cairns. On a side note, that camera is worthy of its own post.
Nowadays the Bloomfield Track is a popular road with tourists and locals. The track cuts nearly two hours off the trip to Cairns, and in the Dry Season, it is not uncommon to see standard 2 wheel drive vehicles running up and down with the masses of 4 wheel drives towing camper trailers. Many of the steeper, more hazardous hills have had ridged concrete tracks poured on the slopes to aid traction and prevent uncontrolled erosion in the rain.
Back to The Crossing. In 1982, it was a gravel ford that was impassable at high tide. Back then, decided to cross the river on the outgoing tide, when it was about 1.2 metres (about 4 feet). Of course back then there was no such thing as crocodile warning signs, and I only had mild concerns about them. If I’d known that 3 months earlier, a 3 metre croc had been shot just upstream of the crossing, I may have waited til dead low.
This image by ‘Peterdownunder‘ shows the crossing that replaced the gravel ford (the remains of it are in the foreground). The crossing in this image washed away in the Wet of 2011, the year Yasi made landfall.The replacement for the above bridge was completed by May of 2011, just in time for the tourist season.
In September this year, preparations began for the construction of an all weather bridge, to ensure people living on the South side had all-year access to the township’s shop and government departments, as well as access to places further afield, such as Cooktown. This image shows the test rig doing preparation work before the large drill moves in.
By early November, after a few minor hiccups on the road into Wujal, the drilling rig and crane began to drill the holes for the piles. These piles are going to be poured onsite, with a mobile concrete batching plant constructed close to the site.
The deepest foundation is 20 metres, with eight holes to be drilled and poured; four in the river, and two each on either bank.
I’m kind of torn about all this road works. Nearly all of the road from Bloomfield to Cooktown will be sealed before the wet. It will open the road up and makes things more convenient for us, but with the added burden of more frequent tourism….or more to the point, more traffic. Ah well, you get that. I’ll keep you updated on the bridge works.