HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

20 December 2013

Falls Creek Bridge

This beautiful old photo shows the original bridge across Currambene Creek on the old Princess Highway at Falls Creek.
Constructed by Mr, Joseph Suffolk in 1865.


Many years ago the south coast area use to receive a lot more rain and the river running under the old bridge was subject to regular flooding.
The original timber bridge was seen as a great boon to the neighbourhood and south coast travel.  The original crossing at times of flood could be very dangerous, buggies,  horses, and men had been washed away in the attempt. It wasn't uncommon for travelers having to wait for days for the river to subside before being able to cross the river and continue their journey south.

In the 1980’s you could travel the new concrete bridge and have an uninterrupted view of the waterfall on the western side of the bridge, sometimes there was so much water in the river the waterfall disappeared completely.
Much of that view is blocked by large trees now.  I have spoken to many people who cross the river on a regular basis now and that didn’t know the waterfall was there.
Often we would take the old road and watch the roaring water from the side, it was amazing to hear and see the power of the river. It would suggest the local climate has dried out considerably allowing the trees to choke the once clear gully.
After seeing this image I realised I hadn't been back there in many years, so today I went back down to the old bridge to see what remains.




The construction is known as a wooden trestle bridge, probably made from locally sourced hardwood, and just like the local ship building industry that thrived in Huskisson the hardwood of choice was probably Spotted Gum, Iron Bark, or Turpentine, all well known for their durability and long life when used in construction..
The bridge was only one lane wide and the highway was two, this caused the traffic to slow, with the increase in traffic using the highway an alternative was needed.

The new pre stressed concrete bridge was built in 1975
The old bridge was left to slowly deteriorate, for many years we could still walk and cycle across the bridge but as it was no longer being repaired the bridge became to dangerous, the planks started to move and rails started to fall, it was eventually stripped down to a narrow walking track about 6 planks wide, this made it an interesting scary crossing, eventually the ends connecting it to the land were demolished to stop people using what was left.
Today quite a lot of the bridge still remains and still stands against the occasional flood waters filled with river debris that jams against the existing structure, some of the main upright props have gone and the timber joints are starting to perish, it’s still an interesting structure to see, especially in light of the original photo, It’s about as close as we will get to time travel, defiantly worth the effort to see.

It’s quite a nice area, best seen when there’s water flowing in the river, you can still get near the waterfall, but care is needed.


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