Excerpts from …
THE SECRET DIARY OF THE GRAFTON BRIDGE
… on the occasion of her 90th Birthday!
1932. After a decade of planning and construction, I’m finally finished. I’m a marvel of engineering! Look … I’ve got two levels! My bottom level has a railway track, footpath and cycle-way (at last, Sydney and Brisbane are connected by train) … my upper deck has two lanes for these newfangled automobiles. I can even hitch myself up in the middle for ships to pass through me. It’s like magic! They throw a big party for me, smiles all round, and seeing as we’re in the middle of The Great Depression, it’s nice to bring some joy to these lovely folk.
1942. I’m still shiny and new. Well, new-ish. Some people call me the Bendy Bridge! I’ve got a bend at each end to allow the railway to continue straight while the road diverges. I’m thinking about those young Grafton men who should be crossing me, every day, on their way to and from work. They’re over in Europe, in Africa, and in the Pacific instead. Fighting for things we hold dear. Come home safe, fellas.
1952. The war’s behind us and there’s a sense of promise, prosperity and identity across the land. An increasing number of automobiles cross me daily, and some of them are really quite fancy! This year sees a new ruling monarch on the throne. She’s only 25! Queen Elizabeth! I wonder how long she’ll rule for?
1962. Hmmm. I do believe there’s change in the air. Or on the airwaves at least. In summer, the cars driving across me have their windows down and I can hear the music playing on their radios. There’s a song I can’t get enough of, it’s by a new band called “The Beatles”, and it’s their debut single, “Love Me Do.” They’ve got potential, this band. You heard it here first.
1972. Well, I’ve had a bit work done on me. There’s not as much maritime traffic passing through these days (thanks to trucks and rail), so in 1969, pipes for Grafton’s water main were laid across my lower deck, and I can no longer open myself up to let ships pass. In other news, an increasing number of Kombi Vans seem to drive cross me … and everyone seems to have long hair!
1982. I can’t believe I’ve turned 50! The lovely folk of Grafton throw a birthday party for me! People seem to be fond of wearing awfully bright clothing these days. (Seriously, though! Fifty! How did that happen?)
1992. Ho hum. I’ve turned 60 and to be honest I feel a little unappreciated these days. Here I am, an enduring marvel of engineering, pretty much at retirement age, doing my job every day. Be nice to be acknowledged. Just saying.
2002. Well well well… someone must have read my little outburst in the previous entry! Because now I’m Heritage Listed! I was anointed in 1999, and according to the criteria, I “possess uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of the cultural or natural history of New South Wales.” It feels SO good to be recognised!
2012. I simply cannot believe I’m 80! It’s gone by so quickly. And though I’m kept busy by the daily hustle and bustle of traffic (it does crawl to a standstill at certain times these days, I must say), I have to admit to a feeling of … loneliness. I’d love a companion. A fellow bridge. Someone by my side, who ‘gets’ me. An old girl can dream can’t she?
2022. OMG! I turn 90 today! The 19th of July! And, know what? I’ve never felt better! For the last three years, I’ve had a handsome young companion alongside me. The “New” Grafton Bridge (opened in December 2019) … a ‘special friend’, you might say. We get along so well, and we share the traffic. I’ve witnessed a lot of love in my life, I feel it in the folk who’ve crossed me every day for the last nine decades, and it’s nice, finally, to have a forever partner. Bring on the next ten years, I say!
Written by Gra