Location; Yarra River, Warburton
This Marker was installed in December 2020
A History of the “Redwood” Bridge at Warburton
As part of the Army Reserve Revitalisation program in the later 1990s, interesting and worthwhile construction tasks were keenly sought after to provide appropriate and challenging tasks for young officers, junior NCOs and Sappers of the 4th Combat Engineer Regiment (4CER) based at Ringwood.
These types of tasks within a civilian community build invaluable skills and goodwill. They also practice construction skills not normally undertaken and necessitate associated negotiation techniques with “real” customers. This includes the ability to work in unique and different environments that can instil a deeper comradeship within the unit and also engenders a broader understanding of the military within the civilian community.
In 1998 the Warburton Advancement League approached 4CER to construct a footbridge over the Yarra River to connect two walking trails in this beautiful township 100km east of Melbourne. This was a great practical and real task for a vibrant and revitalised unit who were generally used to constructing more expedient tasks. The unit found themselves involved in producing a substantial permanent suspension bridge designed to withstand a 100-year flood!
The suspension bridge boasts some impressive statistics, including: foundations totalling 85 tonnes of concrete, two 10-metre-high Ironbark timber towers, a 34-metre span steel wire rope (SWR) with cables rated to 15 tonnes. All of which go into producing a spectacular structure, which blends remarkably well into its natural surrounds and provides the local community with a major thoroughfare and new landmark.
With the escalation of operational commitments in 1999 with Timor, the JIRU and OPGOLD tasks gaining higher priority for 4CER, the Warburton Bridge schedule was starting to slip. When Combat Engineers become fully tasked it is time to call on the Construction Engineers, our fellow Victorian Engineer Regiment, 22 Construction Regiment (22 CR). Commanded by LTCOL Bruce McClure RFD, 22 CR were well able to assist and the bridge was opened in grand style on 21 May 2000 and named the “Redwood Bridge” after an imposing stand of Californian Redwood trees nearby.
LT Horsburgh and his band of Combat Engineers and Plant Operators from 4CER erected the bulk of the bridge. Early in 2000 the OPSO 4CER (MAJ Dave Pitts) led a full-time work party to finish a number of remaining elements of the task. The bridge however, was still not complete. 2IC 4CER (MAJ Martin Thomason, a qualified Civil Engineer) liaised with CO 22 CR and a work party under CAPT White completed all elements of the construction task.
MAJ Thomason had spent innumerable hours of professional time as the structural engineer for the “Redwood Bridge” project. Part of the citation for a Commander Second Division Commendation for MAJ Thomason by Major General C.R.R. Hoeben AM, RFD reads:
“Major Martin Thomason:
Your detailed planning and execution of all aspects of the design, preparation and construction of the 34 Metre suspension Bridge at Warburton has highlighted your professional and engineering skills. Your attention to detail and your technical knowledge proved to be a powerful asset to the completion of the task!”
Well done MAJ Thomason and to so many others who made “The Redwood Bridge” such a reality for the community of Warburton.
At the opening on the 21 May 2000, CO 4CER LTCOL Don Hughes, said that, “the Army is always looking for worthwhile training projects so that our young soldiers and officers can gain valuable hands-on experience. We were also happy to be able to ‘build bridges’ with the local community of Warburton”