The 13th of November marked 100 years sine Bundaberg was declared a city, and what better way to celebrate than by closing our bridge? (Note – Bundaberg is much older than 100 years, this is just the centenary of being considered a city).
The Burnett Traffic Bridge may be the official name, but she is known to locals as the “old” bridge. Well, I guess she has only been know as the “old” bridge since 1995 when the “new” bridge, the Tallon Bridge, was opened in 1995.
So, the “old bridge” was closed to vehicles on the morning of Sunday the 17th so that 400 people could “breakfast on the bridge”. As far as I know, this is the first time this has ever been done, although the day the bridge was opened in August 1900 it was declared a local public holiday and anyone could walk over the new structure.
I was one of the lucky ones to get tickets to this once in a lifetime event, as they sold out within 24 hours. So I, along with my friend Narelle and my Dad, slathered on the sunscreen and slapped on a hat on a very warm November morning to enjoy breakfast on one of Bundaberg’s most famous landmarks.
The Burnett Traffic Bridge is one of the prettiest bridges in Queensland. It probably isn’t very well known, given that Bundaberg is off the Bruce Highway therefore you only travel over the bridge if you are coming right into Bundaberg.
Most other bridges are fairly plain concrete structures, with no real character. But this one looks like a dozen mini Sydney Harbour Bridges joined in a row. Or maybe it’s the other way around, given that our bridge was built first (in 1900)? (Don’t think that theory would be too popular with the Sydney-siders!)
The bridge spans the Burnett River. I know I am biased, but the Burnett is a really nice river. Most other rivers in the major towns on the coast, such as the Mary River in Maryborough and the Fitzroy in Rockhampton, have brown water. Although they are larger, and they are pretty in their own right, they are still brown. But the Burnett River is blue. Usually.
During the floods earlier this year it certainly wasn’t blue, neither was it pretty. It was a raging murky brown torrent of water, sticks, logs and who knows what else. It took out trees, livestock, boats, and shifted the banks of the river so that we now have a beach where once there were mangroves. It took more than a month to return to usual, but the water is back to its usual calm, gentle blue.
Having lived and worked on both sides of the river, I have walked, driven and cycled over the bridge many times, but never have I been able to stand on the road in the middle of the bridge. Neither has my Dad, who has lived here nearly all of his life (I’ll be nice and won’t say how long that is, but I’m nearly 32 so you can guess!)It was a terrific atmosphere on the bridge. Everyone was happy to be a part of something that was just, basically, cool.
It cost us $25 each for an excellent breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried tomato, fresh fruit and croissants courtesy of the Lions Club. The tables were covered with white tablecloths (ooh, fancy) which gave a rather sophisticated feel to the steel structure. After we finished, we walked over to the old-time fair in Anzac Park to have a look at the vintage cars and stalls, and our very own “Bundaberg Eye” (even if it was only there for a day). Not a bad way to celebrate. Happy Birthday Bundy!