Grafton’s bridges have announced this morning they’re ‘very much in love’ with each other, and – despite an 87-year age difference – intend to marry as soon as legally possible.
“I didn’t expect to feel this way,” says Frank – the younger of the two bridges, 70 metres upriver from his beloved elder counterpart. “I mean, when I was officially opened on 12 December 2019, I barely glanced in the old girl’s direction. Here’s me, all sleek, modern engineering and concrete, and there’s fruity old heritage-listed Mabel over there, bending this way and that… There’s A LOT going on there, all that ironwork, the footbridge, rail line, she even carries a water main. I mean, she used to hitch her skirt to let ships pass underneath, but she hasn’t raised her drawbridge since 1969.
“But now, I can’t take my eyes off her! She’s so… stately! She’s one of a kind. Like, literally, she’s the only double-decker road/rail structure of her type in New South Wales.
“She’s something else.”
For her part, Mabel was equally dismissive and disparaging of Frank, as she witnessed the construction of the young upstart over recent years.
“I’d been just fine on my own for the better part of a century,” she recounts, “And, sure, the traffic might have been getting a bit much to take for these old bones, but seeing this Johnny-come-lately, with his minimalist aesthetic, perfect symmetry, gleaming new materials and smooth traffic flow thanks to the road upgrades either side, well, he was just a little too slick for my tastes.”
Nonetheless, before long, Mabel found herself warming to the newcomer.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful not to have to do ALL the heavy lifting across the river these days. And you have to admit, as far as bridges go, Frank’s a handsome young devil. You should see him on a windless evening, reflected in the glassy water as the sky turns on one of those fabulous Grafton sunsets.
It may seem unladylike to say this, but, PHWOOOOOAR!
As the mutual attraction grew, the bridges started sending messages of admiration to each other by whispering to complicit cars heading across one bridge, which those cars would repeat when returning along the other. Fish and birds were also co-opted into courier duty, ferrying upwards of a thousand lovestruck communications a day between the two structures. One pigeon allegedly collapsed with exhaustion while relaying over 200 consecutive “you hang up / no YOU hang up” messages between the two.
And as it turns out, love is contagious, and the cars crossing to and fro on both bridges began transmitting messages of fondness and devotion, not just of these lovestruck bridges’ feelings for each other, but also of the genuine affection felt by the occupants of those cars – the residents, commuters and visitors – for this special city on the river.
And so the spell of Grafton loveliness is woven stronger and tighter every time we cross the Clarence on either of these two devoted bridges, while thinking nice thoughts. Just something to remember when next you visit gorgeous Grafton.