Digging up the past

Contributed by Ron Gillinder

Before road bridges were built over waterways, the main alternatives for taking wheeled transport across the water were by punt or a corduroy crossing. Low elevation wet areas also required a firm base for wheeled transport, particularly bullock or horse teams. Corduroys involved the laying of logs in parallel through the wet area.
Early timber-getters would lay such crossings using whatever local timber was available for the purpose.
When the first Cobb & Co Coach ran between Brisbane and Gympie in 1868 many creek crossings were achieved using the corduroy method. Depending on water height the coach driver may have to cross further westward or wait until the water level fell.
Today, there is little evidence of these corduroy crossings. Members of the Glasshouse History Group were excited when a call came from the Department of Transport & Main Roads in November 2022 saying they had unearthed a corduroy crossing when excavating a section between Steve Irwin Way and the railway line. These excavations were associated with the Beerburrum to Nambour rail duplication project.
Members took the opportunity and immediately wondered at the purpose of the historic crossing in this location as the early public road north was on the western side of the railway line.
Likely options appear to be a timber-getter’s track or temporary tracks for material deliveries in the construction of the railway.
Whatever the reason, the excavated log crossing was remarkably preserved. It was later reburied.