Leura Sewerage Scheme: Chapter 2 – The Leura filter beds

The Leura filter beds

There are 16 photographs of the Leura installation. There is no other physical evidence, I can only supply my best guess at what the photos are trying to tell us. To get the pipes and equipment down the Leura Falls gorge, 6 flying foxes were needed, one of the windlasses being built in the stream bed at the top of the Bridal Veil Falls!

Bearing in mind that the Cliff Drive as we know it today did not exist, Merriwa St. finished at what is today the Solitary Restaurant, but was then a small rocky plateau. This could have been the site for the first flying fox [A] down to a convenient high point above Leura Falls Creek.  (Red line) A second flying fox [B] then went to the Bridal Veil station. (Yellow line).

Fig 2.1 – Flying fox routes – SixMaps

Fig 2.1 The Bridal Veil is at the bottom of B, and Leura Falls is between the bottoms of C and E.

There are no photos of these top flying foxes, and their existence is only surmised from necessity. The second one, [B] finishing at the top of the Bridal Veil, (Yellow line ) can only be surmised from the angle and direction of the approaching rope in Fig 2.2. (Yellow line) and the pipe suspended from it on its chain sliding sling. (Yellow arrow) and its haulage rope Red line.When this photo was taken, the next flying foxes had not yet been rigged, and there is no rope on the windlass, but a pile of pipes has been delivered to this platform.

Fig 2.2 Bridal Veil “Station”

There is a lookout at this point today, right at the top of the Bridal Veil Falls, as there was in 1911. There are two boys watching proceedings and 2 men perched a little further up the hill. The workman’s open toolbox is inside the fence as are two slat seats for weary bushwalkers.

The next photograph, 2.3, shows the windlass from the other side of the creek, but at a later date. There are now two flying fox ropes emanating from the jig pole (Purple arrow), the steep one, [E] (Orange arrow, and orange line in Fig 1.1) going to the Western side of Leura Falls, and the less  steep one [D] (Green arrow, and green line in 1.1) going to the Eastern side. The single haulage rope (Pink arrow) was used for either flying fox. The fence around the lookout has been upgraded but the seats are still there. On the Eastern rope there are two lengths of chain with rings on the end, through which is passed the track rope. The other ends of the chains are hooked around the jig pole. You can see a similar sling being used in Fig 1.1 lowering a length of pipe. There is also a chain hooked around the top of the jig pole where the Western rope is tied off.

There is a fourth rope disappearing over the edge, which is tied off to a cross member, purpose unknown. This photograph will be available on the BMHS website for close examination.

Fig 2.3 Windlass at Bridal Veil

The jig pole on the right (Red Arrow) is the bottom of flying fox [B] yellow line.

The fact that the haulage rope is paid out, and no rig is visible, and the windlass is chocked off, tells us that the rig is at the bottom of the flying fox [E]. The amount of rope still left on the windlass, tells us that it may have been used for the flying fox [F] as well. Although this would not have been an efficient solution, as manual winding with these windlasses would have been very slow, it would have been faster to have individual windlasses for each span.

Fig 2.4 Windlass above Bridal Veil

Looking up at the windlass (Red arrow) in 2.3 from beside the Bridal Veil. This photo was taken about the same time as Fig 2.2 as no ropes can be seen.

In Fig 2.5, which is the top of Leura Falls, for Flying Fox [D], the windlass can be seen, (Red Arrow) and the Track (Blue) and the Haulage (Yellow) ropes can be seen. The concreted over sewer pipe can be seen left centre (Pink arrow)

Fig 2.5 Windlass above Leura Falls
Fig 2.6 Leura Falls top right

In Fig 2.6 Mr Fitzgerald has pivoted a little to the left to show the workman’s ropes (Blue arrow) and some more of the route of the pipeline. You can just see the top of Leura Falls on the right of picture. (Red arrow).

Fig 2.7 Flying Fox ‘D’

In Fig 2.7 the lower Eastern [D] flying fox can be seen. Very faintly, immediately above the waterfall (Blue circle), can be seen the lower Western flying fox [F]. (Orange arrow). A load is descending [D] – Red Arrow, indicted by the sharp change in angle of the rope about 1/3 of the way down. There is a tiedown to the left to bring the load within reach for unloading (Green Arrow). Where the tiedown leaves the picture frame, is a pile of valves and pipes that have been unloaded from the flying fox. (Blue Arrow)

The tension of the track rope is important, the load has to be kept clear of the trees, the rope angle has to be steep enough to keep the load sliding all the way down the rope until it hits the stop, but it has to be close enough to the ground to be able to unload it.

Fig 2.8 -Flying Fox ‘D’

In Fig 2.8 of Eastern flying fox [D], there is no load on the track rope, and the haulage rope has been wound up. The lighting is much softer, and the Western rope cannot be seen, however the top of the Bridal Veil can be seen. (Red arrow). Mr. Fitzgerald has moved to the right and a little further forward than Fig 2.7.

In 2012 I happened, during Covid Lockdown, to visit the Bridal Veil Lookout, and there is an old engraving of the name Fitzgerald in the rock. The initials are not discernible. It is possible that this could be attributed to “our” photographer and engineer J. R. Fitzgerald. The accompanying engravings have not been transcribed.

Continued in Chapter Three.